Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Organic Conundrum at Bouchaine Vineyards

Nothing in life is perfect, including the often worshipped 'Organic' label. Inspection costs can be significant for small farmers, and there can be questions of economic viability after production costs are taken into account. Furthermore, since it enforces the same requirements across the varying climates, soils, pests, crops, animals, planting and havesting methods that occur in food production, it's not always the most optimal solution for the environment, labor, or food quality.

Such was the conundrum faced by Remi Cohen, the vineyard manager at Bouchaine in CA's Napa Valley. She has tweeked the operations on the vineyard's 100 acres to be more sustainable in a holistic manner that mixes organic methods with other low-impact techniques:
"You drive a tractor -- it hits the vines, and possibly damages the vines, and it combusts a lot of diesel," she said. "And you need to follow up with shoveling under every vine," which is painful work and contributes to soil erosion.
Owl and bluebirds keep pests out. And the soil is revitalized with compost from restaurants. Full story by T.J. Foderaro in the Newark Star Ledger. [Bouchaine Vineyards, Napa Green Farm program]


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