CampCraig seems to be widely respected in the West Coast wine industry. He made great wines at Cornerstone Winery in the Napa Valley and Ann Amey Vineyards in the Willamette Valley, but the final chapter of camp life may be the most influential and fulfilling for him. He is reviving a pioneering vineyard that was neglected, overplanted and overworked, producing wines that have made an impact on the wine industry.
With experience in winemaking in California, Oregon, several years in Italy, and building distribution companies in the Midwest, Camp knows virtually every aspect of winemaking and wine marketing. The mission of the camp now is to deepen vineyard management, transforming the abandoned vineyards and wines of Troon into a biodynamic plant and then produce wines from grapes planted on healthy soils adapted to the vines planted there.
Of the ranch’s 100 acres, 45 acres are planted with vines and the existing vines are replanted during the rolling process as the soil recovers. Originally a short-term project when Troon was looking for a buyer, Camp stayed in place when he understood the commitment of the new owners.
Denise and Brian White of Arlington, Texas, visited their daughter in Oregon and began visiting vineyards. With the purchase of the Troon vineyards in 2016, they began a new existence, a new journey, a new mission. They wanted to revive abandoned land and breathe new life into a brand that had languished in recent years. They have retained the name Troon in honor of Dick Troon and his pioneer in the Applegate Valley. Troon bought the land in 1972 and planted the first grapes in the valley since prohibition.
Farming is a slow business, Camp says. It is more difficult to rejuvenate existing vineyards than to create new ones. Weakened plants are infected with diseases and cannot regain full health. We did an extensive study of cellular technology in the vineyard and dug 75 1.5-meter pits with a group of graduate students determining the genetic sequence of the soil. The potential of this vineyard on the Kabli bench is enormous.
The revival of Trona as a biodynamic brand has not gone unnoticed. Troon’s rebirth gives professionals and fine wine consumers around the world another reason to discover Oregon. Craig’s tour introduces the vineyard and the Applegate Valley. It focuses on the exceptional quality of Rhone wines and regenerative farming and business practices, said Tom Danowski, president of the Oregon Wine Council. The Demeter winery’s biodynamic certification demonstrates an investment focused on Troon’s distinctive character and a strong commitment to sustainable viticulture. Innovators like Craig and his colleagues at Troon are developing the Oregon wine market and establishing the state’s reputation for pinot noir with top quality Syrah, Grenache and Tannat.
The sincere adoption of biodynamic practices has been crucial to the recovery. And in Throne, the new team has not hesitated to push straight to the heart of Earth’s rebirth with a concentrated regeneration effort. The camp is clearly the backbone of the winery’s efforts, and its relationship with renowned biodynamic winemaker Bill Steele of Cowhorn Winery has planted the seeds of Troon’s rebirth.
Bill and Barbara Steele left Wall Street to find a way to preserve the earth for future generations. They were advised by biodynamic expert Alan York, who told them to show everyone what they were doing, and Stiles firmly believes they are there to help others in their commitment to biodynamic farming. If we can’t help Trune, what are we doing as partners in the community, Steele says. I’ve known Craig for three years and I can’t say enough about him. The new owners have embraced biodynamics and healing with the land, and the property is healing itself, day by day. The earth is surprisingly resilient.
Troon quickly became fully organic and sustainable and even received the coveted Demeter certificate in biodynamics after only a few years. To achieve this goal, it is important to care for the soil and replant the old vines or even convert them to healthier vines, as the vines are waiting to be replanted under the current crop rotation. They have abandoned the existing Troon wines on the market and now produce wines only from healthy grapes, sometimes from fruit they source from Covhorn, until they can fully meet the estate’s grape shortage.
Troon’swines are making waves, receiving accolades and recognition, and are distributed in 18 states. With 1,000 members and measuring the growth of production, Troon will likely grow from 5,000 cases to 9,000 cases and become a small niche brand related to liquor stores and wine bars interested in biodynamic and natural wines, Camp says.
He fully appreciates Troon’s challenge and opportunities and is almost excited about the return of life, birds and worms. There is an apple orchard, so we plan to produce a cider line, convert the pasture, grow grain for local breweries, raise chickens and develop two areas for traditional vegetables, Camp says. We have habitat for native bee species and we multiply our own seeds. Trona is reminiscent of the south of France with its grape varieties and plants that are healthier thanks to its biodiversity.
The camp loves its role and creates not only Rhone wines, but others that are unusual for the region. Vermentino Manor, is a Kubli Bench Rolle (interpretation of Vermentino’s Rhone) aged 1 ½ years. Troon Grenache is very popular, and Kubli Bench Blends are a staple at local restaurants like Peerless in nearby Ashland. The camp likes it as much as possible in the style of Cote Rotie with a little Viognier to complement the Granache and Syrah. Tron even makes orange wine, which is stored in clay amphorae and has fanatical followers. The camp is also experimenting with bubbles and offering a homemade peanut and pickle ball.
Three years ago, I started working with Craig and Troon Vineyard to help them transition their vineyard from a traditional farming model to a fully certified organic and biodynamic farming system, says Andrew Beedy, a biodynamic consultant at Troon. I was inspired by Craig’s clear and genuine passion for the quality wine that a biodynamic farming system can produce…. Don’t underestimate Craig’s leadership skills.
The Troon Vineyard team, led by Craig, is a perfect example of how to build a fully integrated biodynamic and organic wine ecosystem.
More information can be found here: The most inspiring wine people of 2021.