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Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden Pursues the Living Building Challenge

1.7.14 by the Green Hammer Team

This fall, Green Hammer staff traveled to Jacksonville, Ore., to lead Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden through a design charette for the winery’s new tasting room and residence. We are happy to announce that Cowhorn has decided to pursue of the Living Building Challenge™ (LBC) for both projects.

“Agriculture is extractive by definition,” says Barbara Steele, who owns the vineyard with her husband Bill. “But we do it in a way that leaves the space as good as, if not better, than the way we found it. We want our buildings to follow that same philosophy.”

The picturesque Demeter-certified farm and winery sits along Southern Oregon’s Applegate River. One of the first Biodynamic-certified estate wineries and commercial farms in the United States, Cowhorn has long understood the value of sustainable business practices. Over the last decade, Barbara and Bill Steele have converted the 117-acre estate into an intricate web of garden, habitat, forest, riparian areas, farm and vineyard.

Just as their organic and Biodynamic farming practices seek to restore the land, the Steeles' building practices are both restorative and regenerative. Cowhorn’s 25-acre vineyard currently produces about 2,000 cases of wine a year – a mix of Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. The commercial farm supplies local groceries and restaurants with more than 7,000 pounds of produce each year.

“Biodynamic farming is really about working to enhance and support the dynamic nature of the first 12 inches of the Earth’s skin (the soil)," says Barbara. "When you do that, everything else thrives. That’s how I felt when I walked into homes pursuing the Living Building Challenge. They were dynamic, alive spaces. That’s what we are shooting for.”

The project is still in the design and engineering phase. In addition to pursuing the LBC, both buildings will likely be constructed of FSC-certified wood products and aim to be net-zero energy. Construction on the new Cowhorn tasting room and residence is expected to begin in Spring 2014 and be completed by end of 2014. 

Bill and Barbara Steele Cowhorn Winery

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