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“The Kings of Biodynamics”

An Interview with Brent Stone & Ray Nuclo

By Lisa Gmur, CSW


In 1990, Ed King discovered a parcel of land with rich soil for growing hay to feed local horse and cattle farms. By 1994, more than 100-acres were planted to create the most clonally diverse soil and climate-matched vineyard ever grown in Oregon.

Back in 2002 King Estate was certified organic and in 2016, they received their certification as a Biodynamic farm, a natural and holistic method of farming that traces its origins back to ancient times. Today they have the largest Biodynamic vineyard in North America and remain the “Kings of Pinot.”

The Estate is actually treated as an organic eco-system. It features a thriving raptor program, orchards, lush vegetable and fruit gardens, a gourmet restaurant, and state-of-the-art winemaking facility.

We talked with COO & Winemaker, Brent Stone & Director of Viticulture, Ray Nuclo about everything from King Estate’s On-Premise only Pinot Noir called “Inscription,” to the their very serious commitment to sustainability.

Pictured Left: Brent Stone & Ray Nuclo in the vineyards..


The Mark Wine Group

What one thing do you want everyone to know about King Estate?

Brent Stone

I think the most important thing about King Estate is the emphasis we place on responsible business practices.

The King family always considers environmental and community goals when making decisions which I think is important.

This trickles down and becomes part of company culture where all of us as employees incorporate those same values into everything we do.

The Mark Wine Group

You are not just “Kings of Pinot,” but Kings of Biodynamic Wines. Leading the movement.

Brent Stone

Yes, it is really cool. King Estate is the largest certified Biodynamic vineyard in North America.

Really neat to see how it impacts our operation - from grape growing to winemaking and more.  Touches every corner of the property.

The Mark Wine Group

When did the interest in Bio-dynamic farming begin for King Estate?

Ray Nuclo

The commitment to self-sustainability goes back to the beginning but I would say it really ramped up around 2000 as the vineyard transitioned to organics.

We were also doing many things promoted by Biodynamics without really knowing it.

Things like producing our own plants, growing cover crop seed, composting, introducing raptors to the site, incorporating sheep into the farming system, etc.

The Mark Wine Group

How has it evolved over the years? 

Ray Nuclo

In the years since we have been certified, we have tried to do more ourselves. For instance we started off purchasing all the BioD preparations but now we produce most of them ourselves.

We have also tried to incorporate more of the BioDynamic calendar in some of our activities.

While it is nearly impossible to use it for harvest decisions, we have used it for things like new plantings.

The Mark Wine Group

The holistic biodynamic approach to farming and winemaking is something everyone seems to be talking about lately. What do you want our buyers to know about King Estate's approach to this?

Ray Nuclo

We really strive to limit what we bring from off site. Some examples would be limiting fertilizer need through the use of compost, sheep and cover crops.

We also reduce the need to purchase cover crop seed by growing it ourselves and we reduce fuel needs with the sheep grazing in the spring which delays the need to start mowing and cultivating.  

The Mark Wine Group

A lot of wineries are practicing Biodynamic farming which is so amazing but King Estate is North America's largest certified biodynamic vineyard. This is a pretty awesome fact.

Ray Nuclo

It’s great to be able to show that these techniques can be done on a large scale and be profitable.

The Mark Wine Group

It is way more than a trend, as Ed King told me. He called it a way of life. I think that’s what really stands out to me. You have had organic status since 2002, before the certified biodynamic status. Can you elaborate on the difference?  

Ray Nuclo

The main difference is the use of the Biodynamic preparations. 

The first requirement of biodynamics is that you follow the national organic program rules (NOPs).

In addition, you have to apply the biodynamic preparations and incorporate some type of animal component to the farm of which there are a number of options; chickens, sheep, cattle, geese etc.

“We have made a commitment to sustainable agriculture practices that few wineries even attempt. From its inception, King Estate held stewardship of the land as a guiding principle — embracing our obligation to future generations.”


The Mark Wine Group

What are the challenges of Biodynamic farming?

Ray Nuclo

The challenges of Biodynamic farming are similar to organic farming; disease control and maintaining fertility. These can be adequately addressed through an integrated approach, but you have to be diligent.

The Mark Wine Group

What other sustainable practices does King Estate engage in?

Brent Stone

We have made recent efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of our supply chain.

Sourcing more dry goods closer to home and reducing the bottle weight on some of our largest production wines.

There is also a lot of good information on sustainable practices on our website if that is helpful:

The Mark Wine Group

That’s great Brent. Thanks for the link. Now let’s talk wine! Our buyers really want to hear about Inscription.

Brent Stone

I am really excited about King Estate’s Inscription Pinot Noir.

It’s an On-Premise Exclusive wine that’s all about authenticity.

It’s a 100% Pinot Noir, 100% Willamette Valley and 100% Oregonian in style. 

The Mark Wine Group

I am guessing you are fairly partial to the Pinot Noir Grape?

Brent Stone

Of course! It’s Oregon’s flagship varietal; known for making complex, food-friendly wines and I really love playing with it.

Pinot Noir is influenced by terroir and winemaking more than any other grape variety in my opinion. Block by block, vineyard by vineyard – the uniqueness of each site makes its mark on the finished wine.

You wil find it’s delicious with everything from Chinook Salmon to a great cheeseburger.

The Mark Wine Group

Agreed. Pinot Noir has such great versatility. Thank heavens for the movie “Sideways.” It totally launched the Pinot Noir trend that has remained really strong. Are you a fan of any other wine trends? 

Brent Stone

I think wine on tap has been great for our industry.

It’s an excellent option for BTG placements as the wine stays fresh longer and provides consistency for the account and customer.

It’s also a very sustainable alternative to traditional wine packaging. King Estate was an early adopter of wine kegs for these reasons. 

The Mark Wine Group

We love this! We love everything you do. Thanks Brent. Thanks Ray.

Brent Stone

Our pleasure.


King Estate Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley

  • 90 Wine Enthusiast, Editors’ Choice

King Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

  • 91 Wine Spectator, v2019

Inscription Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

  • 91 Wine Enthusiast, Editors’ Choice, v2020