Monday, January 16, 2012

Taste Coturri Wines in SF: Jan. 25 Dinner at Millenium

Tony Coturri
Taste a rare breed - Coturri may be the only "natural" winery in California with certified organic grapes. They will be visiting Millenium restaurant in SF Wednesday, Jan. 25 when chef Eric Tucker plans a vegetarian feast in praise of mushrooms.

The five course meal is a prix fixe event. Including wine pairing, the meal will be $90.

Learn more about the Mushroom Food and Natural Wine event here.

And, it should be mentioned, one can dine at Millenium anytime and find organically grown wines on the wine list.  As usual, alas, many wines listed as organic are not certified - but some are.

If you're drinking local (i.e. U.S.), the wines grown with certified organically grown grapes ones are:

By the Glass

• Jeriko Sparkling Rose (one of the very few - if not currently the only - certified organically grown sparkling rose in California; Rack and Riddle should be coming out with one this summer)

• Montinore Riesling
• Alma Rosa Chardonnay

By the Bottle

• Pinot Blanc, Robert Sinskey, Los Carneros
• Chardonnay, Horse & Plow, McFadden Farm


• Cabernet Franc, Ceago, Lake County, California 08

If you feel moved to do so, you might ask why the other wines marked "organic" on their wine list are not certified and ask the restaurant to make a distinction on the wine list between certified and not certified.

Monday, January 2, 2012

NEW! Restaurants With Organically Grown Wines on the Wine List

New for 2012 - The Map lists all the wineries with at least one certified organically grown wine. NOW, in 2012, I am starting a new map listing restaurants that offer at least one certified organically grown wine. Please send in your sightings to me at winecountrygeographic at

And take a look at this - for a start.

New Year's Resolutions Worth Making: Make Yours Organic in 2012

If you're looking for a resolution that's easier to keep than losing weight, consider resolving to drink more organically grown wine in 2012.

Here are my top tips on how to make that happen:

1. Look for deals online

Join a few wine clubs (McFadden and Barra of Mendocino would be good ones to start off with) that offer ONLY organically grown wines. Order by the case, especially when big sales are on (both of the above mentioned have had sales in the past three months of 35-60% off), and store wine in your basement. Find what you like. It doesn't have to be expensive. These two wineries aren't.

2. Shopping at a store? Buy Bonterra

Can't manage to order by the case? If you're the type who only buys a few bottles at a time, seek out Bonterra, the organic market leader. My favorites are the Riesling but buy any varietal you like. Bonterra is the most widely distributed organically grown wine in the country.

Everything they make now is reasonably priced ($11-15ish).


Trader Joe's doesn't carry much organically grown wine - and especially not from the U.S.

4. DON'T BUY WINE in the supermarket checkout lane.

I have never seen an organically grown wine in the checkout lane. Buy by the case from the winery.


Use The Map on this web site to find organic wineries to tour. There are more than 150 in the U.S. that offer at least one organically certified wine.


Seek out, patronize, and compliment restaurants that serve organically grown wine. ASK IF THE WINE IS CERTIFIED. Local restaurants that serve AND LABEL organically grown wines are the best. Unfortunately this is a very short list (Green's and perhaps a few others). Most wine lists do not distinguish between certified versus noncertified. Ask the server to identify which wines are certified grown organically. Examine the bottle if they are unable to tell you. Ask the wine director at the restaurant why they don't list certified wines separately. Ask them to carry certified organically grown wines. Write Yelp reviews complimenting restaurants that carry certified organically grown wines.

Bring organically grown wines to restaurants (and pay the corkage fee) if they don't have any on their wine list. Share with your server the reason why you are bringing the wine you have selected to bring (i.e. that it is organically grown).

7. Find your favorites.

Just like the rest of the wine industry, there are organically grown wines to fit every budget and every palate. Find the ones you like - and tell your friends about them when you serve them. Ask them to bring only certified organically grown wines to your house when they join you for a meal or party. Just try it out.

8. Join the Organic Wine Uncorked Meetup group!

Come taste and tour with us. Click here.

9. Map the pesticides in your county or in the state.

If you live in a wine growing region, or are just curious, use the California State Dept. of Public Health's Agricultural Pesticide mapping tool to see where herbicides and pesticides are being used to grow wine grapes. This is a big motivator to get acquainted with the good guys who are making wine organically - yes, you WANT to support them!

10. Ask yourself why, if you're into organically grown food, you and your friends aren't paying closer attention to organically grown wine.

It's a very good question to contemplate. Wines made with pesticides contribute more than 450,000+ pounds of Roundup to California each year. That just can't be a good thing for an ecosystem.

Know anyone who has cancer? It's not an accident that introducing 26 million pounds of ingredients into the ecosystem this year to grow wine grapes coincides with out of control cancer rates. We don't know how/why/etc. but we can take sensible precautions and be kinder to Mother Earth. An ecosystem is a dangerous thing to waste.

Riesling Sale at McFadden Vineyards: $11.70 a bottle!

There's not much Riesling grown in California - and even less of it organically. So it comes as a treat that McFadden's got some on sale during the month of January for wine club members...

It's on sale for 35% off during the month. Normally $18, the sale reduces it to $11.70 a bottle.

During the sale, you've got a choice of two vintages - the 2009 or the 2010.

Being a Riesling nut myself, I already have several cases of this in my cellar.

I do recommend joining the McFadden wine club - many good deals (and only organically grown wines) make this club one of my favorites. As with Barra of Mendocino and Terra Savia, the prices on these organically grown wines can't be beat and make them super affordable staples for everyday drinking.

Recommendation: load up on a few cases!

Organic Tours, Continued: Beaver Creek featured in today's Chronicle

It's nice to see Middletown winery Beaver Creek getting some attention and "love" in the Chronicle this weekend. It is, of course, organic. It's also rustic and run by a Czech couple.

Personally I haven't visited it yet, but it's definitely on my list.

Read all about visiting it in the article - here.

My Photos of Cathy Corison: Chronicle's Pick for 2011 Winemaker of the Year

It was a delight to pick up the Sunday Chronicle this afternoon and see that Napa Cab maker extraordinaire Cathy Corison was chosen Winemaker of the Year by Jon Bonne. Maker of elegant Cabs both from her own estate in Napa (which she owns) as well as a vineyard she's worked with for years (which she doesn't own), Corison's touch is more than deft.

While I don't usually write about winery's that are not certified organic, I am happy to see that she has won this coveted title, which must be in part the result of her organic practices at her estate vineyard in St. Helena, the source of her Chronos wines. (It is organic, but not certified.)

Her lower priced Cabernet line is not organically grown.

Enjoy these photos from the lovely private tour and tasting she hosted me at earlier this year.

I recommend a visit - you'll be treated to a beautiful sitdown tasting in the vineyard barn and a view of the inner world of one of Napa's finest - without commercial artifice or pretension.

The story of how Corison came to own the vineyard is extraordinary...a great stroke of luck and good fortune!

Since Corison does only one estate wine (Cabernet) every year, the seated tasting is a vertical flight.

Let Cathy show you the difference between organically farmed vineyards (on her estate) and her neighbors' (nonorganic)

Cathy hosts tours at the winery and is happy to talk about the vineyard just outside the barn where she grows all the grapes for her Chronos wine

View of Corison from Highway 29 in Napa