Thursday, February 27, 2020

Weed Slayer: Organic Wonder Drug for Weed Control is Just Clove Oil Basically

At Unified Wine Grape Symposium this year, I attended the panel on Weed Control and the big buzz at the end of the 90 minutes panel seemed to be the moment when moderator John Roncoroni asked the audience, "Who here is using Weed Slayer?"

Hands shot up, and most were not from organic growers (who are a tiny percentage of those who attend Unified).

In the race to stop using what Ronconi and others called "the hammer," - i.e. Roundup - growers have been looking for a kinder, gentler replacement for years.

So today's blog post by Craig Camp of Troon Vineyard - a deeper dive into Weed Slayer - is much appreciated.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

IN PHOTOS: Slow Wine Guide 2020 Tasting

Slow Wine Guide 2020 kicked off its annual tour yesterday in San Francisco with a sold out tasting at Pier 27.

The event consisted mainly of Italian wineries (the core of the book's focus) and is based on the book Slow Wine Guide 2020. The Italian version of the book contains more than 500 Italian wineries and 1,000 wines and is the bestselling wine book in Italy.

You can download a free copy of the English edition here.

The English version includes 366 Italian wineries and 245 U.S. wines, including 176 from California and 69 from Oregon.

Enjoy these photos of U.S. organic and biodynamic producers from the event:

Lulu McClellan (right) of Handley Cellars in Mendocino's
Anderson Valley
with Don Neel (left) of Practical Winery & Vineyard
Mitch Hawkins (left) and Jerry Baker (right) of
Hawk and Horse Vineyards, located in Lake County's Red Hills AVA
Rosemary Cakebread's delicate Gallica wines (from Napa, Sonoma
and Amador County grapes) were featured at the tasting.
Jason Drew of Drew Family Cellars in Elk (above Anderson Valley in
the Mendocino Ridge AVA) poured his award winning reds and a Chardonnay.
Ehlers Estate winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz

Jeff Chaney from Grimm's Bluff in Santa Barbara County poured the
biodynamic estate's Sauvignon Blancs and Cabs

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Slow Wine Guide 2020 | Free EBOOK Here

Happy to announce that the 2020 edition of Slow Wine Guide is now out.

As a Senior Editor for California, I wrote about 60 of the winery listings in this year's guide. It was a pleasure to meet winemakers and to work with Deborah Parker Wong, Senior Editor, and Jeremy Parzen as well as all the field contributors in the two day marathon tasting in Sept. where we tasted all the wines nominated for awards.

California wines just keep getting better and better. What rockstars we have!

Get a free download of the book here:

Slow Wine Guide is the number one bestselling wine book in Italy with more than 5,000 copies sold.

The Slow Wine Guide 2020 Tour kicks off next week:

• February 18th, San Francisco, California: Pier 27, The Embarcadero
• February 19th, Seattle, Washington: Bert & Tot Ballroom, Block 41
• February 21st, Denver, Colorado: Asterisk, Downtown
• February 24th, New York, New York: Union Park, Flatiron
• February 25th, Boston, Massachusetts: Artist for Humanity, Fort Point

Monday, February 10, 2020

UK Organic Wine Sales Up 47%, Says UK Soil Association's Latest Report

A new story published in Forbes today shows that organically grown wine is making great strides in the UK market.

• Sales of organic wines increased 47% to $65 million

"U.K. retailer, Waitrose, is a big winner as it is the largest supplier of organic wine with over 70 organic wines from 18 different countries," the article said.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Organically Sonoma Launches: New Website to Help Consumers Find Fine and Everyday Wines from Sonoma’s Organic Vines

Enabling consumers to "Drink Well" after Dry January and to launch their own Personal Green New Deal for Wine

Wine Country Geographic today announced the launch of, a new website designed to help consumers and wine professionals find estate wines from certified organic vines from Sonoma’s leading vintners.

“We hope consumers and the wine industry will make 2020 the year to “Drink Well,'” said Pam Strayer, Wine Country Geographic founder and publisher as well as the author of the Organically Sonoma site.

“Dry January is over. With this new site, consumers now have new and better tools to help them find the wines that fit their eco friendly and health conscious lifestyles. You could call it a personal Green New Deal for wine."

"In addition to meeting consumers' concerns about pesticides in wine, organically grown wines also offer a more climate friendly solution," Strayer said. “The latest scientific study shows that organic or biodynamic vineyards put 9-13 percent more carbon back into the soil than conventional or sustainable wine,” she said.

“While we can all appreciate that the sustainable wine movement may be helping the overall wine industry to pivot to better farming in the long term, sustainable wine guidelines do not provide the pesticide restrictions that meet consumer concerns about health,” Strayer continued. “Organic growers and vintners offer much safer alternatives for people, wildlife, birds, bees and planet.”

Testing in the U.S. and France has found that conventional and sustainable wines contain up to 500-1000 percent more glyphosate and copper residues than organically grown wines. “In addition, consumers should be aware that many conventional and sustainable wines are grown with herbicide and fungicides that contain unlisted ingredients: arsenic, heavy metal and pesticide residues,” she said.


“Voices from the organic side of Sonoma’s wine industry have been largely unheard,” said Strayer.

“There are 47 estate wineries with certified organic vines in the county,” she said, “and many are among the finest producers—with national and international reputations.”

All the organically grown wines from Sonoma do contain sulfites, as do most fine wines from organic or other vines around the globe.

While 20 of the 47 wineries with organic estate vines are 100% organic within brand, 27 are not. "The site helps consumers identify choices on a wine by wine basis," Strayer said. "Brands may have organic estates but then purchase grapes for other wines from conventional or sustainable growers. Organically Sonoma lists only the wines from certified organic vines."


“Organic grape growers are extremely attentive to their vines,” Strayer said, “and that results in better grapes and high quality winemaking in the hands of fine winemakers. Many of the organically grown wines in Sonoma get scores from top critics (like Wine Advocate and Antonio Galloni’s Vinuous) of 90-95 points. Consumers can have their cake and eat it, too—buying organically grown wines from fine wine producers."

Sonoma’s organic growers mirror the wide variety of grapes Sonoma is famous for—Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel are the top three varieties produced.


Sonoma County has approximately 1,870 acres of certified organic or biodynamic vines, representing 3% of the county’s 59,193 planted vineyard acres.

Of these,1,491 acres are owned by estate wineries. Growers certify an additional 379 acres of organic or biodynamic vines.


Sonoma County has 10 biodynamic estate producers and three biodynamic growers. "It's the county with the largest number of biodynamic wineries and growers in the country," Strayer said. (Other regions - Oregon and Mendocino County - have more acreage, but fewer wineries). The county’s total biodynamic acreage is 426 acres, which represents 21% of the certified organic acreage.

Three of Sonoma’s biggest organic vineyard owners are both organic and biodynamic.


“According to the California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation, in 2017 Sonoma growers and vintners used 74,815 pounds of glyphosate on wine grape vines. Glyphosate is the leading ingredient in Roundup,” she said, “which we now know is a carcinogen.”

“While seven cities and the county of Sonoma have all voted to ban glyphosate from public spaces, parks and schools, Sonoma’s growers continue to pour thousands of pounds of Roundup on to the soil,” she added.

Unlike food, organically grown wines cost no more than other wines.


“We know from the wine industry’s own market research that 43% of consumers think sustainable means organic,” Strayer said. “It’s time for consumers to know the facts. Almost all of Sonoma’s sustainable growers, according to their pesticide use reports, use agricultural chemicals that may contain bird and bee toxins, carcinogens, developmental and reproductive toxins and other chemicals of concern.”

According to state statistics, in 2017 Sonoma County’s growers applied 9,751 pounds of one fungicide, boscalid (a bird and bee toxin), on grape vines. “At a time of decreasing biodiversity and ecological imbalance, consumers should know they can support growers and wineries that promote life,” she said.

Enforcement is another issue.

“While wine growers have generously funded and aggressively marketed their Sonoma Certified Sustainable program, we have seen that lapses in program enforcement have led to using banned toxins in wines bottled with the program’s little green labels,” she added. “The standard is not enforced by federal law.”


The organically grown wine category has expanded rapidly in Europe, where approximately 10% of vineyards in Spain, Italy and France are either certified or in transition to organic certification. Experts predict that the organic wine market in the EU will increase dramatically by 2022.

“Sonoma’s organic growers are definitely in the vanguard of this movement and have made tremendous strides, thanks to the vineyard management leadership over decades of dedicated experts like Phil Coturri, Amigo Bob Cantisano and of committed wineries who care,” Strayer said. “Now consumers can finally see each and every producer and the wines they make from organic vines.”


A subscription to costs $25 a year and gives readers access to:

• In depth producer profiles on 47 estate wineries with certified organic vines in Sonoma

• Lists of wines from certified vines: 250+ wines (from $20-$250) and tasting notes on selected wines
• A list of 20 everyday wines (under $25)

• News on selected wines, producers, trends. dining, travel and more

• Info on dozens of great tasting and touring destinations

• Discounts on wine, shipping and two for one tastings at participating wineries.

Visitors can check out the new website at

Wine Country Geographic also offers services including wine buying consults, trip planning, and tour guide services to help consumers and the food industry explore, try and buy organically grown wines. It receives no sponsorship or advertising revenue from wineries.



Wine Country Geographic is a publishing company that provides consumers and wine professionals with guides to wines grown from certified organic or biodynamic vines.

Wine Country Geographic was founded by Pam Strayer, a leading expert on organic and biodynamic wines from the U.S.. She has written and spoken widely on vineyards and pesticides and on organic and biodynamic wine topics.

Her articles have appeared in the industry magazines Wines & Vines, Wine Business Monthly and Beverage Media. Ms. Strayer has also conducted online classes on organic and biodynamic wine topics for Women of the Vine & Spirits and spoken to classes at Healdsburg SHED, Santa Rosa Junior College, and Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute. She served as Conference Program Director for Demeter USA’s 2018 International Biodynamic Wine Conference and is a Senior Editor for California wines in Slow Food's bestselling wine book, Slow Wine Guide 2020.

Pam Strayer, Wine Country Geographic or
(510) 213-9525
Wine Country Geographic

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Biodynamic Wines & Vines (

Two more sites, one on California's Central Coast and one on Oregon, will launch this spring.



Certified Organic Vines in Sonoma

Certified Acres | 1,870 acres of certified organic vines

Percentage | 3%

Number of producers with organic estate vineyards | 47

Number of producers who make only organically grown estate wines | 20

Number of wines | 250+

Organic certifiers used by Sonoma vintners | CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmer), Organic Certifiers
Biodynamic Certifier | Demeter USA

Organically Grown Wines from Sonoma

Wines from Bordeaux grapes (Cabernet, Cab blends, Merlot and more) were the most popular. Rhone wines (Grenache, Syrah, and more) made up the second largest category.

28% | Bordeaux: Cabernet and more
21% | Rhone: Grenache, Syrah and more
18% | Burgundian: Pinot and Chardonnay
16% | Heritage Reds: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Blends and more
7% | Rosé
4% | Italian Grapes: Barbera, Fiano, Greco, Montepulciano, Sagrantino and Sangiovese
6% | Other: heritage whites, sparkling wines. dessert wines

Financial Impact
Sonoma’s organic grape growers represent $23.3 million in wine grape value.*

Based on calculations by the Sonoma County Vintners of the total wine value from wines made in Sonoma, the portion represented by the organic sector in terms of retail value is $240 million.**

*Calculated at 3% of the total value of all wine grapes - $777 million - in Sonoma in the 2018 Sonoma County Crop Report.
**Calculated at 3% of the total value of all wine from Sonoma, reported to be $8 billion by the Sonoma County Vintners. Website:

Our press release will also be available on Cision/PRWeb Thursday, Feb. 6 at 2:30 pm.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Organic Yum for Your Valentine: Port Style Wine Paired with Chocolate Covered Walnuts

Good things come in twos like port wine and chocolate covered walnuts. Where can you find them from an organic producer in California? 

This Paso based, women owned enterprise grows walnuts and makes a port style wine which they sell along with chocolate covered walnuts. A two pack with both is just $29.

Order now to get them by the all important date-Feb. 14.

I ran into Cynthia and Jutta at the Ecofarm wine tasting this year, where they also featured their delicious chocolate covered walnuts, which I sampled, so I can say this vintage is every bit as good as last year's.

But don't take my word for it. Try them yourself.