It's not a real grange, but the proprietors of SHED think of their store-restaurant-charcuterie-cheese-shop-and-wine-shop as a modern grange. On March 1, in their modern grange series, four local winemakers with Biodynamic vineyards and estate wines will talk about Biodynamics in the final installment of a six part series on Biodynamic agriculture and farming practices.
This event focuses on wine from Biodynamic vineyards. Forget any wild eyed tales you've read about fairies in the fields when it comes to Biodynamics. This is a certification program, based on a process approach to certification, that reads more like an agro-ecology textbook citing historically tried and true methods (used for centuries) and incorporates all of the federally required materials standards for organic certification.
Biodynamic standards include a grape growing standard that makes biodiversity a requirement and winemaking standards that allow producers to choose to make and market wines without additives in a category called "Biodynamic Wine." (Limited amounts of sulfites are permitted, but nothing more). This is the only no-additives standard in the wine world. (Organically grown wines may include organic additives).
Making wines certified "Biodynamic® Wine" is a high wire act, performed by only a few (but mostly the best) wineries, and relies on the absolutely right soils and farming to let the essence of the grapes and the site come through.
A second standard, "Made with Biodynamic® Grapes" also exists for winemakers who need more flexibility in the cellar. Both may be labeled with the Demeter logo.
(Other vintners make wines solely from Biodynamic estate vines or purchase fruit from Biodynamic growers, conforming to general USDA winemaking standards.)
But whatever the standard is, Biodynamic farming deserves your attention, striving to bring into balance both agriculture and the natural world in a holistic approach that isn't just sustainababble hooey.
I'll be moderating this panel which features folks who are rarely seen at public wine events, so I am hoping you will make it a point to come and see them. They're a fascinating bunch. And there will be plenty of time for Q and A.
Winemaker and Proprietor, Porter Creek Vineyards
Known For: quietly making acclaimed Pinot Noir in his family's Russian River Valley vineyards on Westside Road in Healdsburg
Wines: 4+ wines ($36-72, 91-93 pts.)
Varietals: Chardonnay, 3-4 estate Pinot Noirs
Biodynamic: since 2003
Biodynamic Vineyards: 20 acres
Certifications: Vineyard, Winery; makes "Biodynamic Wine" (that means up to 100 ppm of sulfites; other than that, no additives)
Biodynamic Case Production: 1,500
Tasting Room: Westside Road, Healdsburg
Known for: making Italian varietals, including the rarely grown Sagrantino, and olive oil on a Dry Creek Valley farm
Wines: Malvasia Bianco, Moscato, Pinot Nero, Sangiovese, and an expensive and unobtainable Sagrantino
Biodynamic: since 2011
Biodynamic Vineyards: 12 acres
Biodynamic Vineyard Case Production: 1,400
Tasting Room: Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg
Winemaker, Quivira Vineyards
Known for: making Rhone wines and Sauvignon Blanc in Dry Creek Valley
Wines: 10+ wines ($22-38; 90-91 pts.)
Varietals: Grenache, Mourvedre Petite Sirah, Syrah, Rhone Blends (red and white), Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel
Biodynamic: since 2004
Certifications: Vineyard, Winery; makes "Made with Biodynamic Grapes" wine
Biodynamic Vineyards: 88 acres
Biodynamic Case Production: 6,500
Tasting Room: Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg
Known for: Vigneron from Provence who works with top vineyards in the U.S.
About: raised in a family of French vignerons, he left the family land to become a pesticide salesman.
After a life threatening bout with diseases (from carrying sacks of vineyard chemicals), he healed himself with a strict detox diet, discovered Biodynamics and enrolled in a Biodynamic education program in Pennsylvania. He later worked as a vineyard manager and winemaker at Chapoutier vineyards in the Languedoc and in the Tain L'Hermitage, St. Joseph, Cornas and Chateauneuf de Pape appellations.
Randall Grahm recruited him to come to California to establish Bonny Doon Vineyard's first Biodynamic vineyards in Monterey County, the earliest in Central California to be Demeter certified. He's now based in Sebastopol but works for vineyards throughout California.
Certified Biodynamic Clients: Grgich Hills Estate in Napa, Qupé's Sawyer Lindquist estate in Edna Valley (also known as Slide Hills Vineyard) in the Central Coast region, and Preston Farm & Winery in Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley.
The event takes place Sunday at SHED from 5 to 7 pm and there is a $20 admission fee for the panel and tasting. For more, see the SHED web site here.