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Local Santa Cruz Family Continues to Invest in Organic

by Shawna Rodgers |

Sixteen years ago, an accident ended the short and blossoming life of Casey Burke. Burke, a leader in Biodynamic farming of wine grapes, is survived by his brother Ted Burke. Ted manages the much-beloved Shadowbrook restaurant near CCOF’s headquarters in the greater Santa Cruz, California area. The restaurant, which sits alongside the river in quaint Capitola, is known for serving high-quality ingredients from local and organic producers. Ted is committed to supporting educational causes, and his support generously includes the CCOF Foundation. Sixteen years after the untimely passing of Ted’s brother Casey, the CCOF Foundation and our community remember his legacy. Ted describes his brother’s commitment to organic and Biodynamic farming methods here.

“Casey was a pioneer for Biodynamic farming of wine grapes. His very first wine (2003) was a sauvignon blanc made with grapes from his vineyard and was called Patianna (after his wife, Patti). It earned White Wine of the Year by the Sacramento Bee. Not a bad start! A few years later, Patianna appeared on the cover of Wine Enthusiast as one of the top 100 wines in the world for that year. However, I think the best testimony for the wine and its quality came from Benziger Winery, who produced a wine in the years following Casey’s passing. It was a sauvignon blanc made from grapes from Casey’s vineyard and was called Casey’s Block. The label contained a beautiful tribute to Casey for his dedication to Biodynamic farming and his generous mentorship to others.”

The tribute from the Benzinger family reads: “This sauvignon blanc is from our dear friend Casey Burke’s Mendocino vineyard. Casey helped us discover Biodynamic farming, and our family was devastated when he passed away in a tragic accident in 2005. With love in our hearts, we crafted this wine from Casey’s Demeter-certified Biodynamic grapes. Casey’s spirit is honored in this elegant, refreshing, and crisp wine with undertones of light citrus, melon, and kiwi flavors. Taken from the world too early, please raise a toast to Casey and his enduring commitment to the environment.”

In 2018, CCOF partnered with Demeter inspectors to perform dual organic and Biodynamic inspections when many Demeter clients joined the CCOF family. CCOF additionally led a Biodynamics 101 for Growers webinar through the Foundation’s Organic Training Institute, the recording of which is available on CCOF’s YouTube page and also on the CCOF website

In addition to supporting the CCOF Foundation, Ted Burke contributes annually in Casey’s honor to a scholarship fund through the California Restaurant Association with, as Ted describes, “an emphasis towards students who are pursuing education for growing or serving organic foods.” 

As we all enter the giving season, we thank individuals like Ted and families like the Burkes and the Benzingers who honor the life and efforts of this leader in the Biodynamic farming community.