About Brooks Estate

In 2009, we purchased the Eola Hills Vineyard.

This site was originally planted between 1973 and 1977 with pinot noir and riesling. We still have 10 acres (5 of each varietal) on its own rootstock. The remaining acres are mostly pinot noir with a tad of pinot gris.

In 2012 our Estate Vineyard was certified by Demeter for Biodynamic farming principles. While we have practiced biodynamics in the vineyard since 2002, we finally got around to completing the paperwork for certification.

For more detail on the specific social or environmental metrics required to have Demeter certification, read the Demeter Farm Standard (PDF).

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Biodynamic Farming

Why practice biodynamic farming? We feel it provides great health in the vineyards, ultimately producing better wines. This practice is known as one of the oldest farming methods that focuses on the land’s natural resources, cultivating high quality fruit and eliminating the use of chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or fungicides.

The concept for biodynamic farming began in the 1920’s from Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and scientist. Steiner educated farmers about the flow of chemical energy that radiates from the moon, planets and stars, which creates a breakdown of organic matter. The positioning of the moon, aligned with specific constellations can influence positive growth with roots, leaves, flowers and fruit.

The main principle and tradition is based on an ecological, energetic and spiritual philosophy in nature. It requires a great amount of respect, more time in the vineyard and greater attention to detail than any other farming method. Creating a self-sustaining vineyard with a self-sustaining habitat protects the forces of nature from the vines, allowing them to produce higher quality fruit. We feel it provides greater purity and clarity in the wines and provides the most honest expression to terrior, sharing a unique sense of place.

Brooks meets the following Demeter Farming and Processing Criteria:

Farming Criteria:
We have a minimum of 10% of our total effective land base set aside as a biodiversity reserve including
land for insectories, hedgerows, flowering cover crops, perennial plantings along the fence lines, roadways
and wildlife corridors.

Our tillable acreage is not planted to a monoculture. We maintain botanical species diversity via our cover
crop rotation strategies throughout the vineyard.

We protect our vineyard and land from soil erosion by utilizing a rock garden to diffuse rain water.
We utilize strategies that emphasize prevention of disease and insect control including:

  • Botanical species diversity
  • Predator habitats
  • Balanced crop nutrition
  • Conscious use of biodynamic preparations
  • Cover crop rotation
  • Timing of planting and significant farming steps in the vineyard
  • Understanding the life cycle of pest species

We do not use synthetic chemicals to control pests or to prevent fungal, viral or other diseases.

We utilize mechanical weed control and no chemicals.

A distinguishing feature of Biodynamic agriculture is the use of nine preparations made from herbs, mineral substances and animal manures that are utilized in field sprays and compost innoculants applied in minute doses much like homeopathic remedies for humans.

As part of this, we maintain our own compost pile. We grow the needed plants on site to make as many of the preparations as possible.

We apply the preparations annually to meet the requirements for the 500 (cow manure) and 501 (silica) preparations. Other preparations are applied as needed throughout the growing season.

We hand stir our preparations.

We maintain careful records of all preparations including the origin of all material for preparations as well as disposal.

In accordance with Biodynamic and Organic guidelines, sulfur is only needed on an as needed basis.

Our vineyard is dry farmed and has no irrigation so water conservation is at optimal levels.

We adjust fertility conditions of our soil to mitigate growth of weed species.

Processing Criteria:
Our storage facilities and processing facilities are clean and protected from insect and pest infestation.

In the winery, we do not make additions of acid or sugar and we do not fine our wines. Our approach is to
be as low intervention as possible.

Our labels are approved by Demeter before they are printed and adhered to the wine bottle.

Mysterious? Yes … so we recommend the following resources if you’re interested in learning more about the fascinating practices of biodynamic farming:
• Demeter Association: http://www.demeter-usa.org
• Biodynamic Wines by Monty Waldin / Published by Mitchell Beazley

The Dirt

In preparation for the new growing season, it’s important to have replaced the necessary nutrients our vines require (used partially or in whole last vintage.) Nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and other elements, along with water and sunlight, feed the vines and eventually become the backbone for quality grapes. Part of being a biodynamic winery and vineyard is providing these nutrients organically through a compost mixture.

For our compost we will use a combination of cow manure, hay, and ground wood chip. Then inserted into the compost will be a combination of:

  • BD#502 Yarrow: Allows plants to attract trace elements in very small quantities for optimal nutrition.
  • BD#503 Chamomile: Stabilizes nitrogen within the compost and increases soil life, stimulating plant growth.
  • BD#504 Nettle: Stimulates soil health, enlivens the earth.
  • BD#505 Oakbark: Provides healing forces to combat disease.
  • BD#506 Dandelion: Stimulates relations between Silicon and Potassium.
  • BD#507 Valerian: Stimulates compost helping the soil to properly utilize phosphorus.

All of the preparations are inserted into the compost, completing our mix and insuring that the compost will contain these properties. Brooks will be making this compost in the late spring and throughout the summer months, finally applying it in the fall just after harvest.

“This would be a great project for the home gardener to add a little enlivenment to their compost,” notes Chris Williams. Why not start your own today?