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2003-01-21
For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Neil Collins, Vineyard Manager
Phone: 805-237-1231
Fax: 805-237-1314
Website: http://www.tablascreek.com

AFTER YEARS OF NATURAL VITICULTURE, TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD CERTIFIED ORGANIC

(Paso Robles) – Effective December 31, 2002, Tablas Creek Vineyard was certified in accordance with the USDA National Organic Standards by Organic Certifiers of Ventura, California. The founders of Tablas Creek Vineyard believe that farming organically allows the grapes to more clearly reflect the character of where they are grown, and promotes the long-term health of the vineyard. This belief led them to farm organically from the inception of the project in 1989. With new federal standards coming into force October 21, 2002, they decided to pursue certification.

Organic farming at Tablas Creek Vineyard stems from the partnership between the Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf de Pape, France, and importer Robert Haas. Jacques Perrin began experiments with organic farming at the Beaucastel estate in the 1950s, and the estate has been completely organic for three decades. Tablas Creek Vineyard continues the tradition begun at Chateau de Beaucastel.

Organic farming at Tablas Creek includes initiatives on weed control, pest control, mildew control, and fertilization. Weed control is accomplished by a balance of hand-hoeing, weed burning, and the use of a computer-sensing tractor attachment to allow cultivation among the vines. Cover crops control pests by harboring beneficial insects, and outbreaks are controlled by the periodic release of predatory insects. Naturally mined sulfur controls mildew, although sulfur is being phased out in favor of compost tea from the vineyard's compost pile. Finally, nitrogen-fixing cover crops, the tilling under of those crops in the spring, and compost tea drips fertilize the soil naturally.

Neil Collins, Vineyard Manager and Winemaker at Tablas Creek, describes the logic of organic viticulture as an exercise in balance. Pesticides, for example, kill all insects, beneficial and harmful, and leave artificially pristine vines. As the pesticides dissipate, these vines provide food only for insects that prey on vines. Outbreaks of these insects can balloon out of control before carnivorous insect populations can recover and restore equilibrium. Further applications of pesticides perpetuate the cycle.

This February 25-26, Tablas Creek Vineyard will co-host a seminar on organic viticulture led by organic viticulture guru "Amigo" Bob Cantisano. With the participation of co-hosts Turley Vineyards and Fetzer Vineyards, the seminar will cover topics such as cover cropping, compost tea, beneficial insect habitat creation, vine nutrition management, erosion control, irrigation for insect and disease resistance, and strategies for transitioning from conventional to organic vineyards.

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