Good Fruit Grower

May 1

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Grapes A BETTER WAY Bill and Greg Powers could write their own book on organic grape and wine production. by Melissa Hansen the subject or body of university research to tap into. Through trial and error and farmer ingenuity, Powers and his son Greg have mastered the techniques for L ong before organic foods were trendy, Bill Powers was growing his wine grapes organically and producing organic wines without the addition of sulfites. But he was so ahead of the times that he had to learn by doing—there were no books on successful organic production and winemaking and could now write their own book on organic viticulture and enology. The father-son team developed the 80-acre, Badger Mountain Vineyard into the first organically certified vineyard in Washington State and with winery partner Tim DeCook established Badger Mountain Vineyard/ Powers Winery as the state's largest organic winery. 100 YEARS Because we offer the QUALITY you expect and deserve! All of the vines at Badger Mountain Vineyard are trained to the Scott-Henry trellis system. Bill Powers says that the Scott-Henry is more labor intensive than other trellis systems but results in higher yields, making his 80-acre vineyard the equivalent of 100 acres. It helps to be growing grapes in the semidesert climate of eastern Washington, a region that's well suited to organic farming because of low insect and disease pressures from the relatively dry growing and harvest season. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of viticultural challenges to organic grape production. Powers, 85, is a legend in Washington's wine grape industry and was so honored by the Walter Clore Center and inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2010 for his 30 years of involvement in the wine grape industry. He also has been recognized for his progressive and innovative farm- ing techniques, awarded the Lifetime Achievement and Grower of the Year by the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. Early years Powers moved from drought-stricken western Okla- homa to Washington's Columbia Basin in 1956, lured by abundant irrigation water from the Columbia Basin irri- gation project and land available for farming. He'd grown peanuts, cotton, and wheat, but "didn't know anything about irrigated agriculture." He began leasing ground in Othello, first raising cattle and then planting apples to take advantage of his frost-free location. It was a chain of events that spurred him into planting wine grapes. After the volcanic eruption of Mt. St. Helens in1980, he decided to get out of cattle. Immigration reform legislation was under debate by Congress, putting a dark cloud over the future availability of seasonal work- ers needed in the tree fruit industry. At the same time, Dr. Walter Clore, retired Washington State University horticulturist, was actively promoting wine grapes as a crop for eastern Washington—a crop that could be mechanically harvested. Badger Mountain Vineyard beginnings Powers found an ideal site for wine grapes on the Your Krymsk 5 & 6 Headquarters! ® 100 Years at Newcastle, Ca 800-675-6075 30 MAY 1, 2012 GOOD FRUIT GROWER south-facing slope of Badger Mountain near Kennewick. He and his son, then in his late teens, planted their first wine grapes in 1982. They initially focused on white vari- eties like Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and Gewürztraminer and obtained a contract with Columbia Crest Winery. "I wasn't going into wine grapes blindly," Powers said, adding that he'd learned a lot of horticulture in his 20-some years of being an orchardist. Finding Photo by melissa hansen Order NOW! BEST Selection BEST Price! 2013

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