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King Estate, a winery with KC roots, named largest biodynamic vineyard in U.S.

King Estate, an Oregon winery with deep connections to Kansas City, is now the largest biodynamic vineyard in the U.S.
King Estate, an Oregon winery with deep connections to Kansas City, is now the largest biodynamic vineyard in the U.S.

King Estate, an Oregon winery with deep connections to Kansas City, is now the largest biodynamic vineyard in the U.S.

“Achieving this certification holds us to the highest possible standard in sustainable agriculture. It is testimony to the commitment of King Estate’s people to go beyond organic and do our part to protect the Earth for future generations,” King Estate’s CEO Ed King said.

In very broad terms, biodynamics is viewed as taking the idea of organic farming, which, among other things, eschews the use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, to an even higher level. Biodynamic farming develops self-sustaining ecosystems.

The winery made the announcement last week, stating that biodynamic certification applies to all 1,033 acres of the estate as well as to the winemaking process, the winery and the grapes.

Not long ago, I wrote an article about King and King Estate, exploring their ties to Kansas City. Before moving to Oregon, a young King helped run his father’s Kansas City-based company, King Radio.

From the beginning of King Estate, the King family has been active and aggressive proponents of environmental protection and responsibility. For King, the biodynamic certification continues his quest to make King Estate the best it can possibly be.

“People are looking for better. They want better choices. They want to make better decisions about their food and the way they live. I think biodynamics is going to deliver that to people,” King said. “The King family, and I think King Estate as a winery, believes in doing the right thing and setting a good example — that it has an impact far beyond our boundaries. It’s a message that is important in the world today.”

King believes that biodynamics takes things in a different direction and to a different level, turning way from a monoculture and forcing the estate to look at matters holistically, studying the integration of many different components.

King Estate is an incredibly diverse property with wetlands, timberlands, prairie, old growth oak forests, berry patches and fruit tree groves, and of course, vineyards — all of which will now be managed biodynamically.

King Estate winery operations manager Ray Nuclo says, for him, biodynamic farming represents a return to the way farming used to be.

“When you think about agriculture and how it’s evolved in the 20th century, it really started to become removed from part of a complex system with many operating parts to more of a monoculture. Biodynamics tends to look at the whole system and not what you can do to manipulate a specific part, but rather, what you can do to promote and support the whole system,” Nuclo said.

King says the certification shows that it’s possible to implement biodynamics on a large scale. “It’s not a question of whether this works or not. We know this works. The question now is keeping it alive and giving people a different path, a way clear of chemical and industrial farming, King stated. “Sometimes great changes come from small examples.”

With King Estate now added to the mix, Oregon is home to more than 30 percent of the country’s biodynamic vineyards.

Dave Eckert is a partner with Flavor Trade, a Kansas City-based gourmet food incubator and co-packer. Before that, Eckert was the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS and AWE for 12 seasons.