A new Old World

Red, one of Horsepower Vineyards’ draft horses.
A snap of line across muscled shoulders. A purposeful lift of the head. A strain of harness leading a kick of dust and jolt of metal. Acre by acre, row by row, the plow scrapes through the stones as steel-shod hooves crash heavily to earth.

Six Belgian draft horses who put the horsepower in Horsepower, are the latest in a storied breed first domesticated in ancient Egypt. Though their armor-clad ancestors carried Medieval knights into battle, that legendary power was eventually harnessed for more peaceful purposes.

By the 19th century, draft horses had transformed farming practices in Europe and the United States, and by the early 20th century thousands of horses were working on American farms.*

At Christophe Baron’s family vineyards in the Champagne region of France, it wasn’t until 1957 that his grandfather’s last horse was finally retired. His name was Bijou, which means “jewel” in French, and his legacy has been reborn at Horsepower.

Christophe Baron was not only the first vigneron to plant successful vineyards in the Stones of the Walla Walla Valley and use biodynamic farming methods, but also the first to use horses for cultivation. Zeppo arrived in 2008, and Red followed a year later. Today, six horses with their teamsters, cultivate tightly spaced, 19th century-style vineyards that only they can navigate, using specialized farming equipment created by a blacksmith in Burgundy, France.

That’s why, on any given day in any of our three vineyards, the only sound you’re likely to hear is the hoofbeat of tradition, played and preserved on the stones of Horsepower.

  1. * Donna Campbell Smith, The Book of Draft Horses, 2007