In the wine world there is a concept called “terroir”” which attempts to express in a single word the complex relationships between soil, air, water and geography that somehow combine to create a grape and in turn a wine, that is a perfectly unique manifestation of its specific environment. The word, like words so often do, hints but ultimately fails to describe the mystery and the romanticism and the wonder that out of the dirt can be coaxed a grape that holistically encaptures all that was good or bad about that particular moment in time.
At Bold Branch Beef, we too believe deeply in the idea that the whole is always greater than the sum of it’s parts. For us it’s not wine that reflects our landscape but instead our beef. Our lush green pastures, padded with the soft leafy covers of fescue, clover, and orchardgrass, embrace the rolling hillsides and creek bottoms. Our cows graze across this landscape, noisily working their way from one end of the pasture to the other and then back again, with the aimless dedication that only animals that have never known stress or pressure or anything of real life, can exhibit. Words are such cheap communicators of a moment in time and there is no word to describe what it feels like to look out across a pasture at that moment in a summer evening when the light flares that one last time and you can see big lumbering dark shapes, their sharp lines rounded by the darkness, studding the hillsides like distractracted sentinels. I’ve written before about that achy feeling down deep in my chest when I’m confronted with something so beautiful that words have no chance but to fail. Its one of life’s great ironies that sometimes the simplest things can be the most profound; like one person being nice to another or a group of cows, standing on a hillside, eating their dinner beneath a sun streaked sky.
To us at Bold Branch Beef, that’s what we think of when we think of terroir; we think of the cows, those great plodding kind hearted animals, the pastures rich and thick with green grass, and the spring fed creeks that run clear and cold year round. We think of how all these combine to create something that is all at once good for us and good for the Earth and good for our animals and how it just feels right, like what we’re doing has some measure of significance in a world badly wanting for meaning. It’s funny how a field full of cows can teach us what contentment looks like. And it can also teach us that for all our flaws, well, maybe in spite of them, the whole is blessedly greater than the sum of its parts and honestly, isn’t that one of life’s great mercies?
October 15, 2016