The drought and water table issues in North County are often in the headlines. Those who farm for a living will have to learn new ways to grow their crops. Kevin Jussila of Kukkula Winery will showcase the future – dry farming in San Luis Obispo County at a field trip to his property during the 2014 Central Coast Bioneers Conference. Jussila farms 33 acres of walnuts and 49 acres of vines without irrigation. He has 8 acres of French varietal olives that are minimally watered through a drip system. To put this into perspective, the 80-acre parcel, including the winery facility, tasting room and a residence for Kevin’s family of five uses about 80,000 gallons of water per year, compared to an average of 250,000 gallons per week at neighboring, irrigated vineyards.
Kevin already figured there would be water issues when he purchased his property in 2004, and has always known there had to be another way. He will talk about his research into dry farming best practices, how he (and the plants) make it work, and how other growers can follow suit. We will take a tour of his farm, and his winery facility, which is partially buried into the hillside and wrapped with a network of gabion cages created from crushed rock excavated from his property. The 250,000 pounds of rock strapped to the buildings saves him over $10,000 per year in energy costs and helps keep the ambient temperature in the winery around 66-68 degrees, even on a hot summer day in Paso Robles. Kevin’s home is already operating on solar and he is in the process of converting the winery facility to solar, as well. Here is your chance to visit a unique operation in San Luis Obispo County.
Tickets are $40 and include transportation from the SLO Grange, lunch and wine tasting. The tour departs Friday, October 24 at 9:00 a.m., returning at 12:45 p.m. for the start of the afternoon plenary session. The tour is free for those holding a Total Immersion Pass for the conference. Alternative beverages will be provided for those under 21.