Categorized | Commentary

Biodynamic Wine?

A new trend in the winemaking industry is going “green”. To date, there are 380+ biodynamic wine producers worldwide who are eliminating pesticides, synthetic sprays and chemical additives from their winemaking process. This trend, otherwise known as sustainable or biodynamic growing, produces purer grapes and eliminates the toxins; it’s a cleaner way to produce a better product. This method has obvious advantages; reducing the aftermath of hangovers and headaches seems obvious since eliminating as many toxins from wine would be healthier to consume; and it’s obviously better for the environment. But what about taste? I began to think about all of the biodynamic and/or organic wines I’ve tasted over the years and I had a hard time recalling… one wine that was memorable, exceptional or exciting. It’s been a few years, so I think it’s about time I get around to trying a few. Since there are approximately 60 U.S producers who are either certified biodynamic or practicing sustainable agriculture, I don’t think I’ll have a hard time finding one.

A few examples include Benziger’s fully biodynamic certifiable Bordeaux blend, the “Tribute”. Benziger, which has supported biodynamic farming practices for over a decade, received certification in 2001 for their 85 acre Sonoma Mountain estate for which 45 acres are planted in grapes and 40 acres are gardens, insectories, olive groves, wetlands, ponds, riparian areas and forest border areas.

Benziger's Biodynamic Pyramid

They pride themselves on the aforementioned process and built a concept of their Biodynamic principles with an illustrative pyramid.

Then we have Randall Grahm, the founder and owner of Bonny Doon, which hopes to transition Bonny Doon into a 100% biodynamic estate. Currently their Ca’ del Solo Estate is Biodynamically Certified and two wine releases under the Ca’ del Solo aegis are currently in the marketplace: 2006 Monterey County Albarino and 2006 Monterey County Muscat, produced from 100% Moscato-Giallo. According to Grahm, “Each of these dry aromatic white wines offers a unique flavor profile embodying our efforts to grow fine wine reflective of the soul of its site of origin. They were made in an utterly hands-off manner with indigenous yeast, sans maquillage. ” Something else worth mentioning is that Grahm comments on the fact that “…screwcaps [closures] make a tighter seal, so they can use fewer preservatives”. Interesting comment; sounds like another reason why winemakers and consumers might want to support the screwcap closure!

So before we discredit biodynamic wines, go out and try a few. I’ve included a list of U.S. producers who are either certified biodynamic or practicing sustainable agriculture (credit given to Fork & Bottle) so that you can find your favorite producer and seek out a wine worth trying. I’ve also included a few eductional videos at the bottom of this post.

Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino
Araujo
Benziger
Black Sears
Bucklin
B Vineyards & Habitat
Cardinale
Ceàgo Vinegarden
Coturri Winery
Deloach
Paul Dolan Vineyards
Ehlers Estate
Fetzer/Bonterra
Frey
Frog’s Leap
Golden Vineyards
Grgich Hills
Littorai
Jeriko Estates & Vineyards
Lutea Wine Cellars
Martella Wines
Masút
Mendocino Farms
Montemaggiore
Opus One
Patianna
Pax
Joseph Phelps
JPV Freestone
Porter-Bass
Porter Creek
Preston
Quintessa
Quivera
Reinking
Rhys
Robert Sinskey
Sky Saddle
Tandem
Central Coast
Ambyth Estate
Beckman Vineyards
Bonny Doon Ca’ del Solo vineyard
Presidio

Sierra Foothills
Clos Saron

New York
Shinn Estate Vineyards
Silver Thread
Herman J. Weimer

Oregon
Antica Terra
Beaux Freres
Bergström
Brick House
Cooper Mountain Vineyards
Cowhorn
Evesham Wood
Lemelson Vineyards
Maysara Winery
Montinore Estate
Sineann
Sokol Blosser

Washington
Cayuse Vineyards

On the Road With Oregon Bounty
- Day 3: Willamette Valley:

Biodynamic Wines:

TreehuggerTV: Organic and Biodynamic Wines:

~ Pamela Heiligenthal

This post was written by:

- who has written 296 posts on Enobytes Wine Online.

Editor and co-founder of Enobytes.com, Pamela is a former restaurant manager, wine buyer, and sommelier with WSET, CMS & Center for Wine Origins certification. She has contributed to or been quoted by various publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Sommelier Journal, Vegetarian Times, VIV Magazine, UC-Berkeley Astrobiology News, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and USA Today. True to her roots, she seeks varietal and appellation integrity and is always passionate about finding the next great bottle of wine.

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11 Responses to “Biodynamic Wine?”

  1. Jack Everitt says:

    “I began to think about all of the biodynamic and/or organic wines I’ve tasted over the years and I had a hard time recalling… one wine that was memorable, exceptional or exciting.”

    It’s been just the opposite with me; a higher than expected percentage of the wines I’ve liked the most turned out to be biodynamic. Might I suggest you focus on recent Araujo releases, or go to Alsace (Z-H, Weinbach, Deiss), Movia in Slovenia, Castello des Rampollo in Italy, etc., etc. The “movement” is more recent in the US, and so far, the best biodynamic wines (except for Araujo and a few others) are made outside the US.

  2. Pamela says:

    Jack – wonderful advice and suggestions. It’s been a few years since I tried a biodynamic wine and the few I’ve tasted were not impressive to say the least. I am excited to try out a few you listed above, explicitly some of the fine examples represented outside of the U.S. Thanks for the input.

  3. Beth says:

    We love Biodynamic wines and there are many to enjoy in California. Being certified Biodynamic is an extensive process and the wineries are committed to create the best wine for people and the planet!

  4. enobytes says:

    Beth, thanks for your comments! You might be interested in an upcoming conversation we are holding on our forum from December 8-12. Winemaker Randall Grahm is leading a discussion on Biodynamic practices. If you are interested we’d love for you to join us!

    More info: http://enobytes.org/forums/index.php/topic,161.0.html

  5. CopyFire says:

    There’s a crazy stigma against biodynamic & organic wines on the consumer side that I’m just not getting. Although I understand the drama about agability and use of sulfites, generally speaking, the purer the expression of the grapes in the glass, and the more they leave the fruit alone, the better. A good organic/biodynamic wine site is a new one I ran into not long ago called http://www.drinktheearth.com. Reviews and such, including winery information and interviews with wine makers. Covers beer and spirits, too. Pretty enjoyable…

  6. Kevin M says:

    Les Baux de Provence was the first wine region in France to go biodynamic. One of the wines I import from there, Domaine Henri Milan, is biodynamic AND tastes great. It won “Best Imported White” at the Minnesota Food & Wine Experience, which is the lragest tasting event in the State. The wine critic, Brooklyn Guy, also found it very memorable.

  7. enobytes says:

    Thanks for the info Kevin. I’m definately interested in trying it. Do you know who distributes Domaine Henri Milan in the Oregon area? ~Pamela

  8. Willene Paveglio says:

    Hey, Nice job! This is my first time i visit here. I discovered so numerous fascinating stuff in your weblog.

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