Sustainable Agriculture in the Vineyard

Enjoy this post by Mercedes of New Pi’s Wine, Beer, & Cheese department:

Today, we’re proud to report, many winemakers and grape growers are farming and making wine sustainably. Using principles of ecological relationships between organisms and their environment (including our own organism), these farmers are taking additional steps to apply sustainable practices to their farming such as the use of composting and the cultivation of plants that attract insects that are beneficial to the health of the vines. The common belief among conventional wineries is that without pesticides, herbicides and stabilizers, wine production is not possible. Here are three sustainably farmed vineyards and wineries that clearly prove it is possible, as they produce exceptional wines.


Catena’s Vineyards in Sunshine

Domaine Tempier – Bandol – Provence, France

Lulu Tempier and Lucien Peyraud (now deceased), their sons Francois and Jean-Marie (now retired), and their descendants have never veered from the love and respect for their vineyards which today produce one of Bandol’s finest wines. They believe that what you put in the soil goes into the wine. Domaine Tempier abstains from using herbicides and pesticides. Along with these chemicals, sulfur dioxide (SO2 – gas employed for its antiseptic qualities by practically all wineries) is never allowed contact with the wine either at the harvest or at bottling.

Ilahe Winery – Willamette Valley – Oregon, USA

Much like Domaine Tempier, Ilahe Winery’s goals are to make wine as naturally as possible from the soil to the bottle. The work in the vineyard and the cellar is done mostly by hand using age-old techniques and materials. From their website, “We enjoy working together to make sustainable, handcrafted wines from our Estate vineyard. We are farmers at heart, and we enjoy being close to nature through our grapes, watching every season change the landscape around us, and every vintage change the wines in the bottle.”


Another beautiful shot from Catena


Tikal Vineyard – Vista Flores, Uco Valley, Argentina

The charismatic 4th generation winemaker Ernesto Catena planted a “vine labyrinth” in his Tikal vineyard hoping that people would get lost and “get to know their inner soul” through hours spent finding the exit under the intense Mendozan sun. From this effort springs Tikal Natural, a wine made with organic own-root Malbec and Syrah grapes.


Tikal’s Labyrinth Vineyard

The wine production industry standard is to force the vineyard and the vinification process, with aid from numerous chemicals and stabilizers, to produce the same wine year after year (generally resembling the wine that was hot last year!).

In contrast, by using sustainable farming methods, these wineries produce very different, complex, distinctive wines that express the qualities of the soil and uniqueness of where they came from.

Article sources:

Adventures in the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch
Vinos Argentinos by Laura Catena


Cedar Rapids Project Update from our new CR Team Lead, Brad!

Enjoy this project update from Brad Lynch, New Pi Cedar Rapids Store Team Lead:


In the Eye of the Beholder

Our Operations Lead, Craig, moonlights as an artist. When not poring over blueprints, reviewing the Cedar Rapids Store’s equipment schedule, or confirming that our Muffaletta sandwiches continue to remain astoundingly good, he draws!

This is his visualization of the north-west corner of the store: our proposed salad/soup Bar is in the lower right.

Will it look exactly like this when we open? Not exactly, but it’s fun to sketch out the possibilities to give us some ideas.

Drawing versus current reality:


All Trades Project Huddle

I’m really glad we have some real professionals working for us!

Our general contractor, Ryan Companies, facilitated an ‘all trades huddle’ this week on the CR store-to-be mezzanine and it went very well.

Representatives from all areas from our sheet rockers, plumbers, HVAC-ers, electricians, flooring contractor, architects, to New Pi representatives – it was a packed meeting.

Everyone is very professional and communicative with each other and it’s nice to laugh once in a while. You can tell this is a strong team.

New Pi Cedar Rapids Update – July 2

New Pi General Manager Matt Hartz updates us on our Cedar Rapids store project progress:

A big crew’s hard at work on our future Cedar Rapids home!

The first food delivery to our future Cedar Rapids New Pi store - we brought lunch for the construction crew!

Allison carries in the first food delivery to our future Cedar Rapids New Pi store – we brought lunch for the construction crew!

The space is truly being transformed, thanks to our general contractor, Ryan Companies, our mechanical contractor, Modern Piping, and our electrical contractor, Nelson Electric.

Kent from Ryan Companies and Jon from Nelson Electric getting ready to dig in.

Kent from Ryan Companies and Jon from Nelson Electric getting ready to dig in.

The floor is now criss-crossed with trenches to accommodate the mechanical infrastructure necessary to make a modern supermarket function. All our refrigeration equipment and retail coolers are ordered and expected by the end of summer. We’ve been working with Alliant Energy to be a model of energy efficient design choices.

The combination of modern retail coolers (many with doors) and LED and high-efficiency fluorescent lighting will yield a store that takes at least 1/3 less energy to operate than our Coralville store! (The two stores are about the same size.)

Right now it's all about infrastructure!

Right now it’s all about plumbing infrastructure!

We are still on schedule to open in late autumn, though we won’t be able to announce an exact opening date for a few months yet. After our Cedar Rapids store is open, we will be turning our focus to making upgrades at our Coralville store! We will be installing the same high-efficiency lighting package and some of the same new refrigeration fixtures that’ll be in the Cedar Rapids store, as well as a nice downstairs seating area for the deli.

– Matt Hartz, New Pi General Manager

500 Cases A Year

Enjoy a guest post by New Pi’s Wine Guy, Tom Caufield:

Robert Ervin makes about 500 cases of wine a year IN TOTAL, but since he grew up in Iowa, we are going to get a wee bit to sell here at New Pi, even though he could easily sell it all at the winery! All I can say is that you are in for a real treat. These are lovely wines: generously fruited and elegant, with a real sense of both place and balance. I called Robert up and quizzed him a bit and we thought you’d enjoy reading the interchange.

Tom Caufield & Monte Ferro - New Pi Eats

New Pi’s Wine Guy Tom Caufield with Monte Ferro’s Pinot Noir

 Tom Caufield: When did you first become interested in wine?

Robert Ervin: I got into wine when we lived in Argentina from 1987-1993. Having been involved in agriculture as a career and retiring in Oregon, it was sort of an impulse decision to try to make some wine. We have a tiny vineyard at our home – 540 Pinot Noir vines – that we tend to and harvest for our “estate” garage wine. I am also a cheese maker.

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 3.18.52 PM

Bob (Iowa boy) & Mignon Ervin of Monte Ferro Winery

No kidding, that’s really cool. What kind do you make and is it available commercially?

Sorry, I just make it for my family to eat – Brie is my favorite to make.

How did you get started actually making wine as a winery?

We go out and find great fruit that has produced great wine, from single vineyards to showcase the site and the skill of those who farm them. We contract fruit, delivering it to the winery at its peak, and contract with the best winemaker we know who has not only the skill but the artistry to get the most out of the fruit.

I was really taken with the marriage of elegance/finesse and power in your wines. So many wines seem to be “one note,” whereas I found yours to be layered and complex. Any secrets you’d care to share?

Our winemaker gets the credit. We are also fortunate to be able to select from a much broader array of vineyards in the Elkton and Umpqua Valley AVAs to get the best available fruit. While we also source fruit from the Willamette Valley, I’ve come to like these small – and in many cases, old – vineyards that hug the Umpqua River basin.

Favorite varietal to (a.) make and (b.) drink?

In prior years, I was a dedicated Bordeaux fan. The subtle nature of Pinot Noir – its delicacy and distinct flavor profiles by vintage – have swung me solidly over to Pinot Noir, and I’m especially fond of those made in Oregon. Pinot Noir is also a very flexible food wine.

I have always liked the Chablis of France, but not oaky California Chardonnays, which just do not make for good food wines in my opinion. That is why we decided to make our Chardonnay without oak, and largely without malolactic fermentation.

Any winemakers that inspire you?

A couple old guys in Italy that make great wine at their homes.

Any favorite winemakers from your neck of the woods?

Terry Brandborg, of course. There are so many talented winemakers, particularly gifted in dealing with our cool climate and year-to-year changes – which are so much less predictable than other grape growing regions. At the risk of forgetting some, I will name a few: Melissa Burr at Stoller, John Grochau of Grochau Cellars, Patrick Taylor at Cana’s Feast, Isabelle Duartre at Deponte, Lynn Penner-Ash, and David Paige at Adelsheim come to mind.

What’s your favorite:

Movie – Any one of the Coen brothers movies

Book – Jo Nesbo novels

Band – Eagles


Robert Ervin’s wines are simply brilliant, a real treat, and featured in Tom’s Top Ten Wines for July & August at both New Pi stores –

Monte Ferro, Oregon, 2012:

Unoaked Chardonnay, Chehalem Mountains: Raised 100% in stainless steel, evoking memories of the very best Chablis you’ve ever had. Bright, mineral-driven, with the perfect balance of acidity and lush fruit. Simply delicious.

Pinot Noir, Umpqua Valley: So many Pinots have pitch-perfect acidity but lack fruit; this one’s balance is uncanny. Mid-palate fruit followed by finishing acidity keeps it crisp and invites you back. Really classic Oregon Pinot Noir with a lovely berry fruit emphasis.


Exceptional Summer Strawberry Lemonade

Now I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here: I’m not tooting my own horn, calling this exceptional. This time, all the credit goes to my husband, who made it – and the compliment was delivered not by me (although I was also quite appreciative), but by a good family friend. This time I’m just the happy messenger, slurping down glass after glass of this exceptional summer sipper.

New Pi Eats Strawberry Lemonade

If you can get your hands on local strawberries at the tail end of our local strawberry season – psst, I hear there are a few left at New Pi Coralville – they really put this over the top. Iowa’s strawberry season is frustratingly short, however, so we do appreciate California sharing their abundant supply. I can vouch for the current round of California organic strawberries being quite excellent as well. Whizz up a pitcher of this and you’re guaranteed a good summer!

Thomas’s Strawberry Lemonade

makes about 1½ quarts

3 c. water, divided
1 to 1½ c. sugar (use 1 c. if using very sweet local strawberries)
2 c. strawberries, trimmed and halved
1½ c. fresh lemon juice (from 5+ large lemons) – juice lemons when room temp
fresh mint or basil to garnish, if desired

Warm 1 c. water with sugar over medium heat until dissolved; remove from heat. Add strawberries, then purée with an immersion (hand) blender, or transfer to a blender, until smooth.

If strawberry seeds bother you (they don’t bother us enough to bother with this step), strain puree through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove seeds.

Stir together strawberry purée and remaining cold water in a large pitcher. Then stir in lemon juice. Taste, adding more sugar or water if desired. Serve over ice. Garnish with a mint sprig or muddle in some basil leaves if desired.

New Pi Cedar Rapids Project Update – June 3

We’ve added a New Pi News category to New Pi Eats! Enjoy our General Manager Matt Hartz’s update on our Cedar Rapids project:

Everyone’s number one question for us is: “When is the Cedar Rapids store opening?”

This is a natural question, though we’ve been hesitant to answer until we’ve gotten our ducks in a row. At long last, their direction is clear! We can finally announce: we will be opening our new Cedar Rapids store this fall. Please stay tuned here for a more precise date in the coming months.

We have additional exciting news to announce about our sustainability plans for the CR store. Our aim, of course, is to complete the project as environmentally consciously as possible.

The blueprint for the future New Pi Cedar Rapids parking lot bioswale!

The blueprint for the future New Pi Cedar Rapids parking lot bioswale!

A few of our environmentally sustainable design aspects are as follows:

1. Storm water management is of obvious import, particularly in Cedar Rapids. Our new store parking lot will include a bioswale – a planting of native vegetation, also known as a bioretention area, grassy swale, or filter strip – to mitigate, collect, and filter storm water runoff.

2. A majority of our retail coolers will have doors, cutting energy use significantly (refrigeration accounts for about 2/3 of our energy costs).

3. Our interior lighting is another area where our choices have sustainability significance. We will be utilizing LEDs in our interior lighting as well has some high efficiency fluorescents.

All in all, sustainability factors into our everyday choices as well as our planning efforts. We know that you, our owners, consider this a high priority, and please feel confident that your environmentally conscious grocery store is doing the best we know for a greener tomorrow.


Matt Hartz, New Pi General Manager

Cedar Rapids Store Project Update from April 18, 2014

At the end of this past year, after an intensive property search in Johnson and Linn counties, New Pioneer purchased a property in Cedar Rapids. Our new home in Linn County is an existing structure at 3338 Center Point Road NE, Cedar Rapids, in a centrally located area with established neighborhoods. We have been busy over the winter and plans for this store, which will be our Co-op’s third store, are well underway.

Our site plan has been approved by the Cedar Rapids Planning Commission and we are working through the last pieces of design planning and budget development! The store will be about the same size as our Coralville location.

New Pioneer is working with Ryan Companies as our general contractor, and construction is scheduled to start in May. By far the number one question I am asked is, “When is the store going to open?” We will be in a position to announce an opening date very soon.

From now until the store opens, watch here for project updates and photos just for you, our Co-op’s owners.


Matt Hartz, New Pi General Manager

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: