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Kamen Estate Wines, California – Robert Mark Kamen

February 11, 2012

Why do you do what you do?

I do what I do and have done for the last 30 years, grow grapes organically and biodynamically, because I am a firm believer in “you are what you eat, or in this case, drink,” and I do not want to be responsible for polluting anyone else’s water or land through irresponsible use of chemicals and toxic compounds. The biggest reason I do what I do is because I had the good fortune to meet Philip Coturri, the Johnny Appleseed of organic viticulture in Northern California, 30 years ago when I first decided to build a vineyard.

What obstacles have you overcome?

There are no obstacles to overcome when you decide to grow wine organically in the mountains. The obstacle is to decide to grow wine at all. We farm on an extreme site; anything we would undertake to grow up there requires patience, will power, and more patience.

What disasters have you survived?

In 1996, PG&E caused a fire that burned half my vineyard down. At the time, besides suing them for compensation, the decision I had to make was to replant. It really wasn’t a decision, because it never entered my mind not to replant. It was very hard watching 16 year old vines wither and die due to the fire.

Are you happy with the work you do up on your mountainside?

You betcha! What we do up there does not border on obsession, it is obsession. And with obsession, happiness is not the goal; it is a byproduct of satisfaction you get from being immersed in the process.

Just waking up every day and seeing the vineyard thriving makes all the effort we put into farming worth the effort.




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