A farm style lunch in a beautiful, biodynamic vineyard in Applegate Valley, Oregon, recently bought and now run by a young woman still in her 20s.
Disclosure: The following is 3 of 3 posts written in exchange for a discounted ticket to the 2021 Wine Media Conference in Eugene, Oregon. All opinions are my own.
Taking the Vineyard by the Horns
Some retire into a winery or pursue winemaking as a long awaited second career.
For Katherine “Mini” Banks, she didn’t decide to wait. Still in her 20s, she is the new owner and general manager of Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden in Jacksonville, OR.
After the devastation to hospitality and challenges that came with the Covid-19 pandemic, the original founders of the vineyard, Bill and Barbara Steele, decided to retire back to their home state of Texas.
However, selling their vineyard to the right person who would maintain the biodynamic ethos they had built did not come right away.
While they had many willing corporate buyers who planned to turn the land back to conventional farmland, Mini, who grew up in the industry, decided to return to her winemaking roots after a stint in the fashion industry.
With a young female winemaker also at the helm and a slew of more sustainable plans for the future, this will be a winery to watch in Rogue Valley.
5 Things to Know about Cowhorn Vineyard
- In 2002, an analysis of the land was completed to see what would be best suited for it. The soil turned out to be similar to the Rhone Valley with a lower latitude, longer summers and little rain. As a result, the original owners planted 117 acres of Syrah.
- They gather and grind quartz rocks from the property and apply it to the foliage to promote the plant’s metabolism.
- Cow manure comes from the cows at nearby organic Rogue Creamery. In exchange, the winery provides Syrah leaves that is used to wrap their award winning blue cheese.
- Though the days are hot, the grapes maintain acidity via the diurnal shift that drops the temperature in the evening and the intense winds that blow through the property.
- During April – June, they harvest asparagus, yielding roughly 1000 pounds per week.
An Organic Lunch Menu
Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese – wrapped in Cowhorn Syrah Leaves with Crisps
Barking Moon Salad with Grilled Peaches – light citrus, white wine dressing, toasted pine nuts, Mama Terra Chevre cheese
“Deconstructed Slider Plate” – 5 spice pulled pork, a homemade plum Syrah sauce, oil based herbed coleslaw, grilled Ciabatta Rise Up! Bread
Watermelon palate cleanser
Food from Jefferson Farm Kitchen in Jacksonville, Oregon.
The Last Drop
When food is organic, I can generally taste it. When the wine is organic, I can’t really tell. But after visiting the grounds at Cowhorn Vineyard, I can definitely see there is something special going on with their stewardship of the land and commitment to biodynamic practices, which are by far from easy.
I particularly loved the Spiral 36 white wine blend and the Syrah tasting from the barrel I had a chance to taste. Highly recommend a visit and trying these wines with Rogue Creamery blue cheese and the local, organic goodness you can find near you.