Monday, August 29, 2016

Domaine Anderson's Dach Vineyard Demeter Certified: Doubles Biodynamic Acreage in Anderson Valley


Domaine Anderson's Dach Vineyard is now certified Biodynamic, the winery announced this summer, celebrating the news in its latest ads. This make the winery the first vintner in Anderson Valley to have Biodynamic vines.

This development comes in a region where organic and Biodynamic Pinot Noir has lagged well behind regions of comparable quality and size.


The new Domaine Anderson is one of 11 owned by the Champagne Louis Roederer Group in Champagne and is located a stone's throw from its very big brother, Roederer Estate, and its other sibling, Scharffenberger Cellars, both noted sparkling wine producers. Unlike its siblings, Domaine Anderson is devoted exclusively to still wines - Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Domaine Anderson is also the first Champagne Louis Roederer Group winery that sells only via direct to consumer channels, following the model of many successful artisanal brands. The wines will only be available at the tasting room, through its online web site or via its wine club.

Its first vintage from in transition vines, the 2013 Dach Vineyard Pinot Noir (215 cases, $65), is available only to wine club members.

A 2013 Dach Chardonnay (142 cases, $55), from in transition vines, has also been released for sale in the tasting room and will be part of the wine club's upcoming shipment.

In addition, the winery certified the five acre Pinoli as well as the Dach vineyard organic in 2014.

Total case production for the winery is 4,800 cases.

Domaine Anderson's winery, designed by Napa's celebrated winery architect Howard Backen, and tasting room, designed by Patricia Roberts, opened in May, offering an attractive setting for sampling the wines indoors or outside on its terrace overlooking the vines. Outside the winery are bee friendly gardens (away from the tasting area and paths); the tasting room prominently displays a bee friendly gardening book for sale by the celebrated gardener, Kate Frey, who also lives in Mendocino.


Domaine Anderson sources from seven estate vineyards (consisting of 50 acres, according to its web site); three are made into single vineyard designate wines. Of those, Dach is the only one that is certified Biodynamic; Pinoli is also certified organic. Some other vineyards are in the certification pipeline.


The winery also has a demonstration garden showing organic versus Biodynamic vegetables growing side by side to show the difference in the vitality of the food produced. (Raymond Winery in Napa also has a similar demonstration garden to show the difference.)

August 2016 harvest at Domaine Anderson with Darrin Low, winemaker,
and Jane Khoury, assistant vineyard manager and Biodynamic program manager

BIODYNAMICS IN ANDERSON VALLEY

Previously, Filigreen Farms, a noted Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris vineyard, was the only grower in the area to be certified Biodynamic. Its grapes go to artisanal producers who produce very small lots of wines from its vines, including Donkey & Goat in Berkeley, Lichen, Yamakiri, and Panthea. It also has 17 acres of vines, so the addition of Domaine Anderson's vines brings the total in Anderson Valley to 34 acres of Demeter certified vines.

ORGANICS IN ANDERSON VALLEY

In addition, Handley Cellars, Anderson Vineyards and Long Meadow Ranch also farm organically in Anderson Valley.

Handley Cellars has 29 acres of CCOF certified vines, bottled into four estate wines. Anderson Vineyards (part of Roederer) has 44 acres that are CCOF certified, but these are not vinified separately. Long Meadow Ranch has 69 acres of in transition vines (CCOF), making the organic-only vineyards' tally 73 acres (plus 69 in transition).

Added to the Biodynamic vines (which are also certified organic, by Demeter's Stellar Certification Services), that brings the total to for organic vines to 107 acres (plus 69 in transition). When those in transition vines are certified, expected in 2017, the total will be 176 acres in Anderson Valley AVA.

BIODYNAMICS AND PINOT NOIR: ACRES COMPARED

Biodynamics is already quite popular with Pinot Noir producers in Oregon, where more than 830 acres of (mostly) Pinot Noir vines are certified Biodynamic. That represents roughly a third of the Demeter certified vineyard acreage in the U.S.

Major Oregon producers include Maysara, Montinore Estate, and Cooper Mountain with Johan Vineyards, Soter Vineyards' Mineral Springs Ranch, Brooks, Brick House Vineyards, and Winderlea. In addition, King Estate, in the southernmost part of the Willamette Valley, is expected to be certified Biodynamic later this year, which will add another 465 acres on top of Oregon's current total 830 acres. (About half of King Estate's vines are Pinot Noir.)

The new total for Demeter certified acreage in Oregon will then top 1,300 acres.

Many of the world's most famous Pinot Noir vineyards in Burgundy are farmed Biodynamically, including Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Leroy, and Domaine Leflaive, and Oregon producers have always looked to Burgundy as a reference point. In fact, among Demeter certified vineyards in the U.S., Pinot Noir producers top the list with the most acreage of any varietals in vine.

In comparison to Anderson Valley, here in northern California, Sonoma has about 85 acres of Pinot Noir (plus more of other varietals) that is Demeter certified. Estate producers include Benziger, DeLoach, Mabaroshi, Porter Bass and Porter Creek. (In addition, Radio Coteau has no vines but it does have a certified Biodynamic winery.)

In central California, Ampelos Cellars (25 acres) in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara County has been Biodynamic since 2009. Its neighbor, Sea Smoke Cellars, is expected to be certified Biodynamic this year, bringing on another 170 acres of (mostly) Pinot Noir vines to the Biodynamic fold.

ANDERSON VALLEY IN CONTEXT

To recap, before any U.S. newcomers come on board, the Biodynamic tally for Pinot focused regions is Anderson Valley - 34 acres - compared to 25 acres in Santa Barbara County and 830 for Oregon's Willamette Valley.

After the newcomers are certified (expected this year), the comparison will be Anderson Valley - 34 acres - compared to 195 acres in Santa Barbara County and 1,300 in Willamette Valley.

Clearly Domaine Anderson is taking in a step in the right direction, and helping to bring Anderson Valley closer to best practices among top Pinot Noir producers in the U.S.

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