No matter what, DO NOT tell anyone how beautiful it is in the Applegate Valley. I’m worried that if the word gets out, I won’t be able to afford to retire there. There is so much to admire about the burgeoning wine scene in Southern Oregon. We’ve been working on a broader photo project in Southern Oregon and a recent part of that adventure was a field trip to Cowhorn Vineyards near Jacksonville, Oregon. Deep in the Applegate Valley, Bill and Barbara Steele are cultivating about 25 acres of certified biodynamic grapes within a polyculture framework. They also have built the world’s first tasting room that meets the “Living Building Challenge”, which is the highest level certification for a LEEDS-type standard. It’s more technical that I can understand, but I understand it is the highest standard for net-zero energy use, free of toxins and materials that create pollution and has a reduced carbon footprint many times smaller than a conventional commercial building. Plus, it’s incredibly beautiful.

You can visit Cowhorn and see all this for yourself. But please, let’s keep this our little secret.