Creating a Sustainable Community
Niels and Bimmer Udsen
It’s hard not to gush about what stewards of the land Niels and Bimmer are and there’s a real sense of conscious community building when you listen to them talk about the evolution of Castoro. Their first vineyard was at their home and their mission to farm it organically was not only driven by their innate nature to be environmentally friendly but their mindfulness of their neighbors. Niels mentions, “You don’t want to spray something around your kids and family. Why would we want to spray other families and kids nearby?”
From their beginnings, the Udsens always look at farming practices of yesteryear to serve as alternatives to spraying harmful chemicals on their vineyards. Using practices like tilling, they understand their soil, as their community, is a living, breathing organism. Since their humble beginnings, the Udsen’s properties have extended beyond their backyard and Bethel Road in Templeton to multiple vineyards in various Paso Robles districts where, as Neils describes, “We looked at the topography of different sites and how they could convert them to organic. It’s been a long process, but in the end it’s better for the grapes and our employees.” In addition to farming organically and being SIP Certified, Castoro also harnesses the energy of the sun and looks to use one-hundred percent renewable energy which Niels says, “It is kind of a no-brainer. Panels are getting more efficient, affordable, and we are lessening the burden on the grid.”
As Castoro grows, the philosophy of family permeates throughout their organization. Bimmer notes, “Many of our staff have worked for us for a long time and have become family.” The Udsen’s sons also now work for the family business running the nearby Bethel Road Distillery and son Luke books all of the bands for their epic Whale Rock Music Festival. With the encouragement and construction skills of their son Max, a former ultimate frisbee player at Chico State, they built a disk golf course on the property that they describe as more of a vineyard walk. The course is legit and draws disc golfers from around the State.
The Whale Rock Music and Arts Festival along with numerous other concerts, art openings, and culture driven activities are just another aspect of what makes Castoro Cellars a truly special place. In 1994, they partnered with SLO Folks to host concerts because there was a dearth of music venues in Northern SLO County. From there, their facility became a pillar in the local community with many of the events raising money to support local arts organizations.
“Music is a great part of everyday life. Add some wine to it and it’s even better.”