Saturday, January 26, 2019

EcoFarm Celebrates Organically Grown Wines in Conference Tasting

Thursday night's celebration of organically grown wines at Ecofarm, held as Asilomar in Pacific Grove, brought cider and winemakers together for a grand tasting that included more than 30 producers. Here are a few of my top choices from the event:

Susan Feinbloom and George Davis  from Porter Creek were pouring the beautiful Pinot Noir that comes from their 17 acre estate in the Russian River Valley. George had the good fortune of buying land there early on and planting what are now some of the oldest Pinot Noir vines in California. His son Alex Davis is the wine maker, and he and his helpers usually pour. In years of being a fan and an ardent buyer of their wines, I had never met George. So that was a pleasure!

Zoubeida and Remi Zajac's Powicana Farms is among my newest favorites, since I only found them in 2018, but news of their incredible Petite Sirah had gotten around to me earlier when the couple won a double gold for their reserve Petite Sirah in the 2017 Mendocino Wine Competition.

Dan Berger was inspired to write about their 2015 wine, a rarity because it's seldom that a wine critic ventures into writing about wines from Redwood Valley. The area is the organic heartland, with more than 25% of the acres certified organic - a higher percentage than any other appellation. Much of the area was originally planted by Italian families; today the Barra's and the Frey's are the biggest growers and vintners.

The Zajac's, who are French emigres, made their first wine in 2013 from the 10 acre vineyard they purchased, converting it to Biodynamic certification in 2015 after they settled here. They dry farm and practice no till in the vineyard.  Powicana's wines - made with ambient (or native) yeasts from grapes they grow themselves - are gems that truly reflect the red clay terroir.

They make Petite Sirah five ways - as a rose, a sparkling rose pet nat, a still red wine, a reserve still wine and a port. Word got around - that sparkling pink was the wine of the night!

Another fine winery whose lovely wines are too often under the radar is Manzanita Manor, a project of Jutta Thoerner and Cynthia Douglas, who mostly raise organic walnuts on 100 acres of land. They also lease 30 acres of public land in San Luis Obispo County, growing wine grapes on 5 acres.

From the traditional Portuguese varities they planted there, they make a port style wine that is the only no added sulfite port in the U.S. It's also the only all organic port as well, fortified with organic brandy.

The two sell walnuts, too - including both their raw organic walnuts and their chocolate covered organic walnuts, another hit. (The chocolate is organic and fair trade, to boot).

For those who are crazy about walnuts, their online store sells sprouted walnuts, walnut flour, walnut oil, walnut butter and a wide variety of flavored walnuts.

They recommend pairing the chocolate walnuts with the port. There was standing room only at their stand when I visited at the tasting, with people only too delighted to try the combo.


Other wineries with wines from certified organic vines pouring at the event included:

Made with Organic Grapes (bottle labeled)
• Bonterra Vineyards
• Chance Creek Vineyards
• Preston Farm & Winery (Biodynamic)

No Added Sulfite Wines (bottle labeled)
• Frey Vineyards
• La Rocca Vineyards

Ingredients; Organic Grapes
• Frog’s Leap Winery
• Robert Sinskey Vineyards (bottle labeled)

Wineries that have some organically grown wines (but not all of their wines are organically grown); no bottle labeling
• Raymond Vineyards & DeLoach Estate (Biodynamic) 
• Storrs Winery & Vineyards (certified organic in the estate vineyard in 2018)
• Winery Sixteen 600 (negociant)

1 comment:

  1. I was hoping to see Remi and Zubeida in your list and there they are. Powicana wines and their story are inspiring. We also discovered them in 2018 at the ECOFARM wine tasting. Since then we have purchased 8 cases of their Petit Syrah for our restaurant. We also learn ( have learned) about other winemakers at the conference tasting ove the years and serve Frey, LaRocca, and Mesa del Sol. Much thanks to Wendy Krupnick and Steve Shuman for organizing this conference event over the years.