Full Circle Farming
At Long Meadow Ranch we set out to prove that we could produce world class wine using sustainable, organic farming methods. Among the pioneers in establishing an organically farmed vineyard in the Mayacamas Mountains, we are very proud that vineyards throughout Napa County are increasingly farmed organically.
We are not former hippies in tie-dyed T-shirts. We do not make eclectic slightly "off-quality" products that you have to "believe-in" to value. We are committed to proving that world class quality and responsible farming go hand-in-hand.
We do not approach organic farming theologically. We do not have a belief system we are trying to evangelize. Instead, we have learned that organic farming methods produce higher quality at lower cost, with real consumer benefit. Every farming practice we have adopted at Long Meadow Ranch is grounded in scientific first principle and we hold a well-developed point of view about why it works. We are committed to the highest quality and organic farming is the mechanism that allows us to achieve extraordinary results.
In contrast to the "mono-culture" that has evolved in the Napa Valley, at Long Meadow Ranch we have developed an integrated farming system that relies on each part of the Ranch contributing to the health of the whole. Vineyards and wine making, olive orchards and olive oil making, and cattle breeding all work together in complementary fashion (not to mention the egg-laying poultry flock and the organic vegetable gardens).
We make our own fertilizers on the Ranch through an extensive composting operation that relies on organic material from each segment of the Ranch. Soil erosion is controlled and new soils are built through the extensive use of permanent cover crops made up of carefully selected grasses, clovers, and legumes. We have adopted dozens of similar practices throughout our operations.
The poultry flock located at LMR Rutherford Estate helps illustrate one of the central concepts of farming at Long Meadow Ranch - the notion of "integrated" farming or beneficial inter-related "loops" - which we call full-circle farming.
As described by owner, Ted Hall:
"As we raise the many varieties of rare heirloom tomatoes, the finest, most uniform fruit is sold to fine restaurants. The top chefs will buy the tomatoes. If they aren't first quality, we'll sell them at our roadside stand or at the farmers' market. Our third-quality tomatoes are sold to a great little drive-in restaurant, where they're made into gazpacho."
"If the tomatoes aren't good enough for that, they'll be fed to our organic chickens. Because they eat fabulous tomatoes and veggies, the chickens lay spectacular eggs with yolks almost neon-like in their color. We then get to sell the eggs back to Auberge du Soleil! There are even more efficiencies here. Since we raise the poultry near the vegetable production, we have no cost of poultry feed because we're feeding them our leftover vegetables.
"When we're done with the crop season, we have all the organic matter - old pumpkin vines, dead tomato plants - that then goes into a nearby compost pile. This time we use the chicken manure as the source of essential nitrogen. And, by spring the compost is ready to go back on the field as fertilizer. The cycle begins again."
We do not use herbicides or pesticides and all crops are certified by California Certified Organic Farmers.