OUR VINEYARD & WINEMAKING PRACTICES
VINEYARD & WINEMAKING
Sustainable Agriculture Practice
Natalie’s Estate uses sustainable practices from the Vineyard to the Bottle
As the wine growing region in the Willamette Valley thrives and expands, we at Natalie’s Estate Winery believe sustainable viniculture practices are essential to preserving the health and beauty of the place we call home.
Here are some commonly asked questions about sustainable practices and our approach to keeping our land and community healthy:
What Is Sustainable Winegrowing?
Sustainable winegrowing is a comprehensive set of practices that are environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically viable. Sustainable winegrowing is being used by wine grape growers and vintners throughout the Pacific NW to grow and make the highest quality grapes and wine. These sustainable vineyard and winery practices conserve water and energy, maintain healthy soil, protect air and water quality and preserve local ecosystems and wildlife habitat.
Here at Natalie’s Estate, we choose to dry farm our grapes which means, that after the first year of plantings, we do not water our vineyards. Saving one of our most valuable resources, water, is also good for the wine because thirsty vines make for more concentrated flavors in the grapes thus the wine. In caring for our vines, we use the least toxic and least energy intensive methods for weed control. In addition, surrounding our vineyards we have chosen to keep a natural oak and fir forest for the deer, owls, coyotes and hawks and other smaller animals and birds to flourish.
What do we hope to accomplish by using the practice of Sustainable Agriculture?
- Produce the best quality wine grapes and wine possible
- Maintain the long-term viability of agricultural lands
- Support the economic, physical and social well-being of farm and winery employees
- Respect and communicate with neighbors and community members by respond to their concerns in a timely and considerate manner
- Enhance local communities by creating jobs, supporting local business and actively working on important community issues
- Support research and education as well as monitor and evaluate existing practices to expedite continual improvements
Do sustainable agriculture and organic farming mean the same thing?
No, agriculture can be “sustainable” without being “organic” and some organic operations may not be sustainable. Organic farming excludes the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals and then requires an independent certification that is often a difficult and expensive process. Often, however, approaches to management of healthy soils can be similar between organic and sustainable farming systems as they are at Natalie’s Estate.
Can chemicals be used in a sustainable system?
Yes, sustainable agriculture approaches are those that are the least toxic, least energy intensive and yet maintain productivity and profitability. There are a variety agricultural challenges where a minimal use of chemicals is more “sustainable” and beneficial than a strictly non-chemical “certified organic” approach.
For example, one technique for weed control involves mechanical cultivation. A harrow may need to make several passes in a season with the associated environmental and social risks (i.e., soil compaction, soil erosion, fossil fuel consumption, potential worker injury). Once a season, the other choice is the use of a herbicide carefully and sparingly applied. A vineyard manager needs to decide which is the most appropriate method based on the situation and resource concerns at a particular site. The manager may decide that the chemical option has less environmental, economic, and social risks than the non-chemical option.
At Natalie’s Estate we love making great wine and the wonderful people we meet through our business. This love translates into a care for the land, the environment and the community that surrounds and sustains us. Thank you for taking an interest in our winemaking efforts and we hope you enjoy the fruit of our labor!
Protecting our Streams
Here at Natalie’s Estate, we farm to protect the healthy streams, focusing on control of soil erosion, runoff and on maintaining buffer zones to protect water quality.
Protecting the Oak Habitat
The power of the Oak Accord is that landowners are doing their part with their land resulting in significant improvements in the oak habitat across the Willamette Valley where more than 97% of historic native oak woodlands and savannas have been lost.
Natalie’s Estate signed the Oak Accord agreement and is committed to protecting and restoring oak habitat on their property. For every acre planted in vineyards, we dedicate the same amount of acreage to natural oak forest. The management of vineyards and of forestland takes place in harmony with healthy, sustainable oak habitat. The Accord creates a stewardship standard for existing land managers and owners and the importance of oak woodland conservation.