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OWP Person of the Year 2018: Rudy Marchesi

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Person year 2018 Rudy Marchesi

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Marchesi sifts through compost at Montinore Estate. ##Photo by Andrea Johnson

At Montinore Estate, Rudy Marchesi hosts a pre-conference workshop for the 2018 International Biodynamic Conference in Portland. ##Photo by Andrea Johnson

During a pre-conference gathering at Montinore Estate before the 2018 International Biodynamic Conference in Portland, Italian Biodynamic consultant Adriano Zago compares roots in soil farmed Biodynamically versus conventionally. ##Photo by Andrea Johnson

An aerial perspective of the compost piles at Montinore Estate. ##Photo by Andrea Johnson

January 8, 2019 OWP Person of the Year 2018: Rudy Marchesi Oregon’s Beloved Biodynamic Mentor

By Jade Helm

Some people regard Rudy Marchesi, president and chief viticulturist at Montinore Estate, as an artisan. A fair descriptor though this is not the core of his success. Exceptional practicality and results-oriented thinking with a healthy dose of curiosity and generosity remain his foundation, leading to a career of constant learning and, now, influence on an international level, thanks to Biodynamic methodology.

OWP Person of the Year 2018: Rudy Marchesi

Rudy Marchesi, with his dog, Enzo, stuffs cow horns with manure, a Biodynamic prepapration known as 500. ##Photo by Andrea Johnson

Created by philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner, who first explained it in a series of agriculture lectures in 1924, Biodynamics was new to Marchesi in 1979, when a college friend came to help him with his new vineyard. “He had spent several months working on the Findhorn Farm in Scotland where they had pioneered Biodynamic farming in that area. His stories of the practices, the composts and the remarkable vegetables all were inspiring,” Marchesi explained.

Wine, on the other hand, has always been a part of his life. In fact, his grandparents, Carlo and Rosa Marchesi, cultivated a love of the land, growing and producing their own food, including grapes and wine in Northern Italy. After immigrating to the U.S., they continued this tradition all the while instilling this same passion for digging in the dirt — and making wine — in their grandson.

Marchesi’s wine career began in the early ’80s in the Northeast, making wine for his own small label while raising his daughters. But when his oldest daughter, an ambitious student, wanted to attend Reed College in Portland, he had to add another “hat” to raise enough funds. He noted, “This wasn’t going to happen on a poor winemaker’s income.” So, he accepted a position with a wine distributor.

In turn, his palate broadened with exposure to fine European selections — he also got to visit his daughter in Oregon during work trips. Marchesi soon noticed his favorite French wines were made with Biodynamic practices. A longtime proponent of organic agriculture, his interests were piqued — so much so he eventually studied at the yearlong training course in Biodynamics at the Pfeiffer Center in New York.

OWP Person of the Year 2018: Rudy Marchesi

Native plant corridors for pollinators and wildlife are important for biodiversity at Montinore. ##Photo by Andrea Johnson

An organization that practices, teaches and promotes Biodynamics, the Pfeiffer Center describes the farming as “an approach to plant and land care that combines novel techniques of building up healthy soil with a renewed awareness of all the forces at work in the farm organism: among and between the soil, plants, animals and humans, as well as the cosmos itself.” Steiner created the method in response to farmers who were concerned about the declining health and vitality of their crops, plants and animals.

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