Christopher Baron, Walla Walla Wine Pioneer
Perhaps you've heard the almost mythical story of how young French winemaker Christophe Baron, the youngest heir to the famous Champagne house. Raised in Champagne, Christophe explained that his initial intention when he left France in 1996 was to establish a winery in Oregon's Willamette Valley, but things didn't work out. Following a road trip, he finally arrived in Walla Walla and began looking for land to plant a vineyard. He'd been told about a stone field outside town, went to see the field, and immediately fell in love with a few acres of seemingly useless, stone-covered farmland. While the naysayers said no, Christophe Baron skillfully transformed this stone field into Cayuse's famous vineyards. Christophe started slowly, planting Syrah vines and using biodynamic practices, including horses for ploughing and chickens to help with weed control and fertilization. In harmony with the cosmos
Biodynamic agriculture, the remedy to take care of the earth
From the outset, the vines have been grown organically, without synthetic fertilizers, chemicals, insecticides or fungicides. "Mistreating the land kills the terroir, and you end up with diseased or dead soil," believes Christophe. "It's a foundation you have to protect." In 2002, Cayuse became the first estate in the Walla Walla Valley to fully implement biodynamic agriculture. Based on the research of Dr. Rudolph Steiner in the 1920s, the philosophy focuses on the relationships between earth, plants and animals as a closed, self-sustaining ecosystem. With the use of an astronomical calendar for sowing and planting. Most vines are planted on their own roots, as phylloxera is rare here, but he has planted a few on rootstock for protection. The vines are pruned tosuch low yields that it takes three Syrah vines to produce one bottle of wine.