by Chris Russell, Contributor
Sustainability. It may be a buzzword these days, but at 2Hawk, sustainable winemaking is a sincere commitment. It’s a commitment to being responsible stewards of our distinctive home in the Rogue Valley. It’s a commitment to our neighbors and to our community. Most importantly, it’s a commitment to the future so generations yet to come can enjoy all Southern Oregon has to offer, from stellar views to pristine rapids to world-class wine.
Maintaining balance is the core of sustainability. In viticulture, as in wine itself, many different elements must come together in harmony. Growing peak-quality wine grapes requires careful shifts between the yin and yang of warmth and cold, daylight and darkness, and moisture and dryness. The dominance or absence of any one factor can spell mediocrity or even disaster for that year’s harvest.
Co-Owner and Vineyard Manager Ross Allen is constantly making infinitesimal tweaks to perfect this balance in the vineyard and bring out the best in our estate fruit.
“Anywhere Ross has a cell signal,” notes Co-Owner & Retail Operations Manager Jen Allen, “he can make real-time adjustments to enhance growing conditions. Using a weather station in the vineyard, Ross monitors soil moisture and tension; temperature; wind speed and direction; humidity; and other key indicators.”
This principle of balance guides us, reminding us that what we take from the earth and the air must be replenished. In doing so, we protect not just our own vineyard but also do our small part to nurture the Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon, and ultimately the world.
Sustainable winegrowing requires a diversity of actions. At 2Hawk, we’ve implemented numerous strategies to ensure sustainability, including:
- Building our winery into a hillside to take advantage of natural insulative properties that nearly eliminate the need for ambient temperature control.
- Equipping our winery with a 50-kilowatt solar array, LED lighting, passive ventilation, and a gravity-flow crush pad.
- Fermenting in smaller batches, reducing energy needs for active temperature control.
- Composting our grapes after processing and fermentation and then using the compost to increase organic matter and water-holding capacity in our vineyard’s soils.
- Installing clean fuel wind machines to prevent frost damage instead of sprinkler systems, which require significant amounts of water (one of our scarcest resources), or the more traditional smudge pots, which not only burn oil inefficiently but can also blanket the Valley floor with smoke in the spring.
- Employing natural approaches to control vermin and pests. Our barn owls, hawks, ladybugs, mealybug ladybirds, and jackrabbits all do their part to reduce and even in some cases eliminate the need for chemical controls.
- Mulching pruned canes back into the vineyard’s soil, returning biomass and nutrients directly to the vineyard.
“The important takeaway from sustainability,” notes Ross, “is it is more than just a decision made from time to time—it’s an ethos to live by and incorporated into every decision made in the vineyard.”
The Benefits of Sustainability
The benefits of our sustainable practices range from the tangible to the abstract. In the short term, the Rogue Valley enjoys cleaner air and water as well as a healthier, more vibrant, and more robust ecosystem. These impacts, in turn, ripple outward, benefiting those downwind and downriver while having a butterfly effect around the globe.
Our wine reaps the rewards of sustainable winemaking as well. Rooted in our keen sense of place, 2Hawk’s mindful viticultural and winemaking practices ensure our wines reflect the unique terroir of our special place in the Rogue Valley.
As 2Hawk Winemaker Kiley Evans notes, “Producing Malbec that smells and tastes like Malbec is relatively easy. Producing Malbec that smells and tastes like Malbec grown and produced at 2Hawk is incredibly difficult.”
We hope this look at sustainable winemaking has deepened your understanding of what actions 2Hawk is taking to steward its vineyard so we can continue producing award-winning wines far into the future.
Want to sample the sublime results for yourself? Our tasting room is now open five days a week, Wednesday–Sunday, 1–7 pm. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to keep up on the latest happenings at 2Hawk, too.
Do you have any questions about our wines, our vineyard, the winemaking process, or anything else wine-related? We’d love to hear from you! Please comment below or reach out to us directly via our Contact page.