Quivira Vineyards — A Very Biodynamic Winery

Biodynamic vineyards at Quivira

We have reposted this article that was published a few years back. Our photos were lost in the “Cloud” so we needed to redo the photos and publish again. This winery has been on West Dry Creek Road since 1986 when just a handful of wineries were located on this beautiful backroad in the Dry … Read more

Green Manure at Cedarville Vineyard

green manure

Green Manure Cover Crop Cedarville Vineyard – Zinfandel Around this time of year, it is easy to spot the vineyards that are practicing sustainable and organic farming. The telltale signs are the rows of green plants growing in between the vines. These are called cover crops or green manure. Their purpose is to provide nitrogen … Read more

Wine Adventures in Hopland – Mendocino County

Is the Hopland Wine Country on the rise? There are some interesting happenings in this little wine country town about 30 minutes north of Healdsburg. Janelle and I have been visiting Hopland at least once a year since 2000. We have seen the area go through its ups and downs, but on this last visit it looks like things could be jumping in Hopland.

The most notable change is the redo of Lawson Station Hotel by husband-wife team Gary Breen and Anna Beuselinck. They have reopened the hotel, which was closed shortly after it opened in 2007. The hotel, including its restaurant, has been given a facelift and the new digs are called Piazza del Campovida. Full operation is set to go any day now.

Gary and Ann also purchased the Fetzer Valley Oaks Center that has been closed to the public for at least five years. The new name is Campovida, and the grounds and tasting room are first class as are the Rhone wines produced here. Gary and Anna are hoping Campovida will not only attract a huge following of wine lovers but are also optimistic that it will become a popular venue for weddings and conference events. There is a set of cottages on the property that can accommodate folks for events and that is a big plus for the area. Campovida is located east of the town, about one and a quarter miles on Highway 175. Tasting room is open daily 11 to 5 pm. This is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch.

The Bocce courts at Campovida

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Biodynamic Farming — Montemaggiore Winery in Dry Creek Valley

We have a great five-minute video of how biodynamic farming is implemented at the vineyards of the Montemaggiore Winery near the town of Healdsburg. We interviewed winery owner Vince Ciolino as he walked us through his hillside vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley. Vince along with his wife Lise are the owners of this beautiful winery. Lise is the winemaker and Vince is the vineyard manager. The wines are Rhone style wines and the emphasis is on Syrah. The winery is open only by appointment, but don’t let that stop you from visiting. If you are looking for something very different from the standard tasting room fare, then you will find a visit to Montemaggiore an exciting diversion.

One of the coolest and most unusual biodynamic practices at Montemaggiore is the use of chickens. The winery has 15 chickens that live in a chicken coup on wheels. This little chicken habitat is an exact replica of the winery. Vince can move the chicken coup to various locations on his estate vineyards to do their work. The chickens leave the coup periodically to roam the vines in search of insects. They scratch the soil with their claws to find the bugs. That scratching helps mix in the natural compost that Vince has applied to the vines. The chickens eat tons of insects and that removes many an insect pest from the vines.

Watch the video to get an idea of what goes on at a biodynamic vineyard.

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Will Smoke Taint be an Issue with the 2008 Vintage?

On June 21, 2008, we attended a Maurtison winery outdoor dinner for wine club members at one of their Rockpile Vineyards deep in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County. This is an amazing area of deep hillsides and rough terrain. We took a tour of the vineyards that sit high above Lake Sonoma. The air was clear and breezy and the views terrific. Two hours later during dinner, it was a completely different story. The entire area was filled with a haze of smoke. A wave of lighting strikes had set forest fires in Mendocino County and the winds brought the smoky air to the south. The smoky air lingered there for days as far away as the San Mateo Peninsula, but in Mendocino Country and parts of Sonoma County the smoky air was there for three weeks.

Rockpile before the fires
Rockpile before the fires

Two hours later the smoke filled air
Two hours later the smoke filled air
The 2008 vintage will begin to emerge soon with white wines. These wines should not have a problem with smoke, because in the winemaking process the juice is squeezed from the grapes and the skins discarded. In the case of red wines, the skin is in contact with the juice, and hence the greater chance for smoke taint. The 2008 reds are in barrels now and I imagine the vintners have a good idea of how these wines will taste.

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Jeriko Winery in Hopland — Trader Joe’s Connection

If you read our last couple of blog posts, you will know that we were in the Hopland area last week for our Bocce tournament. As you might imagine we stopped in at several wineries and tasting rooms in the Hopland area including the Jeriko Estate Winery. This wine area is beautiful and has much to offer to the wine country lover. You certainly won’t find any crowds up here in southern Mendocino County, and the area has much to offer in terms of peace and solitude and most importantly some very good wines.

Danny Fetzer owns the Jeriko Estate winery. The Fetzer Family made a fortune when it sold the Fetzer label to Brown-Forman Wines, and later many of the family members went on to establish their own wineries.

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More on Dry Creek Valley, The Trip Planner, & Robert Mondavi Summer Concerts

We recently blogged about Montemaggiore and Quivira wineries, two biodynamic wineries in the Dry Creek Valley. There are at least four other wineries practicing sustainable and organic farming in the Dry Creek Valley. If you are interested in touring the sustainable wineries of the Dry Creek Valley, I have outlined a suggested two-day tour of these wineries on WineCountryGetaways.com. One thing that is very nice about visiting wineries in the Dry Creek Valley is that most of the wineries are small and family-owned. If you visit during the week, you might even find the winemaker or owner in the tasting room.

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More Organic Wine Tasting

Continuing to taste the organic wines I purchased at Whole Foods in their “Eco Friendly”wine section, we paired a Frey Vineyards Sangiovese and a Parducci Sustainable Red with herb roasted chicken with a pasta and vegetables. The Frey Vineyard Sangiovese is labeled an “Organic Wine”because it was made from certified organic grapes and no sulfites were added in the winemaking process. The Parducci was also made from organically certified vineyards but to better preserve the wine, sulfites were added. For this reason, the term “Organic Wine”cannot be placed on the label. However, it is allowable to put “Made from Organically Grown Grapes” on the label.

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Frey Vineyards Petite Sirah

After attending the Commonwealth Meeting in San Francisco on “Wine: Sustainable, Organic, Biodynamic – What Does it All Mean?,” we purchased several bottles made by Frey Vineyards and Parducci Winery. Jonathan Frey of Frey Vineyards and Paul Dolan of Parducci were featured speakers at this Commonwealth Meeting. We found the wines at Whole Foods in … Read more

Wine: Sustainable, Organic, Biodynamic. What Does it All Mean?

Last night we had the opportunity be present at the Commonwealth Club meeting in San Francisco to hear winemakers Paul Dolan, Jonathan Frey, and Phil Larocca enlightened us on this very popular and important topic in the wine industry today. Each of these three individuals is considered to be a pioneer in the field of … Read more