Saving your wine one bite at a time: Oregon winery uses goats to fend off wildfires
A vineyard in Oregon uses a broad array of farm animals to help improve their wine and protect the farm from wildfires.
Antiquum Farm in Junction City, Oregon, is home to sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, dogs and goats.
Owner and farmer Stephen Hagen explained to FOX Weather on Monday that the farm is practicing grazing-based viticulture, using animals to manage vegetation.
"We are using sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, a whole spectrum of animals, to manage vegetation and lower risk of wildfire as well as improving and really changing the personality and expression of our vines," Hagen said.
Antiquum Farm owner and farmer Stephen Hagen with the Kune Kune grazing pigs in Junction City, Oregon. The pigs are native of New Zealand. (Image: Antiquum Farm/Stephen Hagen)
The sustainable method helps protect the 140-acre farm and benefits the wine. Antiquum offers Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and sparkling wine. Customers can also purchase eggs, honey and farming livestock.
Hagen said all the animals are used for different reasons. The goats are the "firefighters" of the farm.
"In the vineyard, we’re using the gut fauna of all the animals to create a diverse microbiome in our soils that over time has improved the vines," Hagen explained.
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Meanwhile, in the forest around the vineyard, Kuni Kuni pigs, a type of grazing pig from New Zealand, thrive off the vegetation. According to the Antiquum Farm website, the pigs are "funny, friendly and efficient."
Every few weeks, the animals are moved about the farm to redistribute material and create microbial diversity in the soil.
Antiquum Farm in Junction City, Oregon is home to Katahdin/Dorper sheep that help the grazing-based viticulture. (Image: Antiquum Farm/Stephen Hagen)
"The idea is to have everything here be self-sustaining, not just the vines and the wines, but also our animals, to really only use the resources we have on the farm," Hagen said.
He said the intention is to live with and survive fire, not eliminate it. Wildfire is an integral part of a forest ecosystem.
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"Even if we were today to holistically shift the way we manage forests in the west, and when I say that, I don’t mean cutting down all the trees," Hagen said. "But to really get back to a vision that creates forest structures that allow wildfire to move through them without devastating them, that is a 150-year picture."
Goats are the "firefighters" at Antiquum Farm in Junction City, Oregon. (Image credit: Antiquum Farm/Stephen Hagen)
The change will take time. Hagen said it's not a matter of if, but when a wildfire happens.
"We want to be able to have fire move through our forests, not get into these ladder fuel that moves up into the canopy that allow a fire to blow up and get out of control," Hagen said.