Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine

Bill Powers, who founded Badger Mountain Vineyard in Washington, passed away this morning at his home in Kennewick, we’ve learned from Paul Chartrand of Chartrand Imports. Badger Mountain became the first certified organic winery in Washington in 1990 and has received numerous honors for his work, including the Wine Grape Grower of the Year and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. Our condolences to his family and co-workers at Badger Mountain.

Learn more about Bill Powers at

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From the winery:

“When we say that every year is different and that each vintage has its own specificities, nothing can be more true than in 2014 …We now look forward for the results with much curiosity and apprehension. On the first day of the harvest, we already talk about an atypical vintage.”

“January 1st, 2014: In the south, we wished an Happy New Year on the sunny terraces. This already presaged a mild winter. We were not wrong, after 15 days of relative cold mid-December. January and February were soft with mild temperatures. The pruning began on January 18th (at the time of Steinerian crystallization) under a rarely observed sun in our northern sector.
March: As we see the first flowers of apricots blooming along the Rhone a month earlier than usual, we wondered what it would be in the vineyards. First bets went for an early vintage: 2003, anyone? Vines show their first tears. Then budding happens around March 20th, confirming that we were three weeks in advance. From north to south, it was the same. April, May: Let the season starts! Plants grow, flowers appear and despite a small episode of cold temperatures, everything went well; we can even observe that 2014 could bring a great volume of grapes. In Châteauneuf du Pape, we will wait after the fruit set to say Hallelujah! In the South, the grapes looked promising but Grenache is the variety that may be able to deprive us of a large part of its harvest because of coulure… but this time, everything was allright. And the fruit set was going very well. May, June: There is a lack of water, no spring rain, we began to worry about water stress. Vines grow, grapes are developping nicely, it’s hot, dry, it’s paradise …. But we remain vigilant as such tranquility during the vegetative stage is unusual. The vineyard is beautiful, healthy and everything goes well. Too well?

During the month of June, we are concerned: It’s too hot and there is a lack of water. From north to south, from Ampuis to Latour de France in Roussillon, we monitored in order that our vines do not stress. Considering it could be like in 2003, we shifted vacation dates and we asked everyone to be available on August 18th, just in case … For some appellations we wondered if we should not set up an exceptional irrigation plan. At Latour de France, some plots are under water stress, but also young vines are suffering in Châteauneuf. On Mirabel, our wine estate in Ardèche, basalt and limestone reminded us how hard they are with plots showing some symptoms of water stress. We decided not to produce our famous “Coufis”, our “vin de paille” Viognier de l’Ardèche, due to concerns about the stress of the vines. We knew that we had to remain vigilant. Early July, we saw early scalding symptoms on Mirabel, Tain l’Hermitage and Ampuis. Then, we softened the effects of this heat with comfrey, chamomile or yarrow teas. Rains started on July 14th from north to south and it was the beginning of the time for the vintner to accompany his vines. As rains continued alternating with sunny days, we set up a biodynamic treatment planning: rhubarb, buckthorn and clay to dry the vines. On July 25th, part of the team was leaving for vacation. On Saturday, July 26th, we did not even have time to pack our bags that a hailstorm started around 2:00 PM. “Emergency” treatments with clay were immediately used. On Monday morning, we finished all the plots and then followed a week of rain. For August, it was announced that it would rain nearly twice as usual at the same period of time. And it’s true. Grapes grow … and continue to grow. We topped vines. On August 15th, started mildew with a rare energy. We were on high alert. We pruned to clean up the environment. But heat and rain brought our “tiny enemies”. Pressure still went up a notch. So we decided to go for prevention, some grapes were eliminated and consequently we cleaned up the vineyard, thinking that we should continue because we were still far from maturity.

Elders have always said that September “made” the vintage. As an example, August 1989 remains the coldest ever but September made it a legendary vintage. From north to south, we pruned, we removed the leaves. At Latour de France, people looked at us with curiosity: “Are they really removing the leaves?”. Usually dry, sometimes too dry, this season was wet and natives were
unprepared. So, for us, Rhone northerners at heart, we applied in Roussillon the same methods as in Tain l’Hermitage. There was no time to lose: it had to mature, especially since the harvest was promising. On August 25th, the beautiful weather started again. A beautiful and warm sunshine. Early September, 30 degrees during the day. Our prophylaxis work shows results The vineyard is healthy and the grapes ripen at their own pace, with an exceptional sun. We are not anymore ahead of schedule but, on the hill of Hermitage, we can admire the beautiful golden color of the Marsanne grapes and smell the nice aromas of the grapes in our vineyards of Méal and Chante Alouette. In the Clos, at Saint-Joseph, we can imagine the power that will come out of these berries whose skin becomes thinner. We turn, we return, we observe, we monitor and tonight we enjoy a break. We are blessed by this weather and we want it to last because there are still three weeks to go. Tonight, we hope that everything will finish with a happy end. Our vigilance and responsiveness made us getting out of a complex situation. Monday, September 8th, 2014, let’s start! We start this surprising vintage with the grapes of our white Méal, degrees around 14.5 ° are expected. This is the beginning of the last stage, we are ready and serene thanks to the work that we have put in place for obtaining healthy grapes. This vintage 2014 is really surprising!

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From Jenny & Francois:

Dear Winelovers,

Come protest Global Warming with the Jenny & François team! We are passionate about this subject for many reasons, but as people of the wine industry who work closely with winemakers around the world, we have to acknowledge the effect of global warming on grape growing. On Sunday September 21st, we will join the People’s Climate March at 11 AM on 77th St. and Central Park West to march as a group of wine lovers who want to take back the terroir and bring awareness to this growing problem. Check out the website here:

Research shows that if climate change patterns progress as expected with higher temperature and droughts, grape-growing regions will shrink by nearly 80 percent by the year 2100. We don’t want to be in the raisin business! Please come by for an hour or two and walk with us – we’ll be the ones holding the banner that says “Winelovers Unite: Take Back the Terroir!”

We’d love to see a giant group of wine drinkers, industry or not, walking with us on Sunday the 21st to continue the battle against global warming. Please send us an e-mail at if you can make it so we know how many to expect. We look forward to marching with you!

In Vino Veritas,

The J&F Team

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Chambers Street Wines, which features many organic and biodynamic selections, has been named the Best Independent Retailer in the World by Jancis Robinson’s website. Read the full story at

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the real wine fair

THE REAL WINE FAIR: Back again for 2015… but different!

Following the fantastic success of this year’s event, we are delighted to announce our plans for The Real Wine Fair 2015.

The 2014 Real Wine Fair which welcomed record numbers of trade and consumer visitors, was, without doubt, our most successful and critically-acclaimed event hitherto, featuring 140 organic/biodynamic and natural growers and winemakers from around the world, a roster of superb guest speakers, a busy pop-up wine shop and the return of the Unfiltered Dog, not to forget a typically celebratory Georgian supra.

However, after several successful years under its previous guise, we feel that it is time for a change. So, instead of a single, large two-day fair, we will be holding multiple, smaller but no less exciting events for trade and consumer guests throughout the UK. These will comprise focused regional growers’ tastings, master-classes, dinners and a variety of innovative promotions in order to share our pleasure of real wine with as wide an audience as possible.

These events will take place across the UK throughout 2015. However, to whet your appetites for next year’s events, we will be kicking things off early. October 2014 will mark the inaugural event “Alternative Australians”, a fortnight of pop-up tastings and “wine residencies” hosted by Anton von Klopper, Tom Shobbrook, Patrick Sullivan, Iwo Jakimowicz and Sarah Morris, dynamic young winemakers who are making considerable waves in the Australian wine scene.

We will be announcing details of other Real Wine events for 2015 in the next few months.
The Real Wine Fair will revert to its customary format in 2016.

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Wine Enthusiast has released the nominees for their 2014 Wine Star Awards and two people we consider part of the Organic Wine Journal family are up for Sommelier Of The Year.

Pascaline Lepeltier, sommelier at Rouge Tomate in New York, is known for her organic, biodynamic and natural wine selections. And Kelli White, sommelier at Press in Napa, has written articles and appeared on our tasting panels in the past.

Congratulations to both!

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The Cleveland

We profiled NYC restaurant The Cleveland when they first opened last year and The New York Times has finally caught up to us. Eric Asimov writes about ‘10 of New York City’s Most Surprising Wine Lists:’

This intimate restaurant with a lovely garden ought to be nirvana for wine geeks. It specializes in natural wines, which are grown and made with the least possible amount of additives and technology, but the Cleveland is not particularly dogmatic about it. You’ll find bottles from across Europe and the United States. Noteworthy bottles include the 2008 Pierre Frick riesling from the grand cru vineyard of Vorbourg in Alsace for $75; the 2013 Sicilian catarratto from Marco de Bartoli for $42; and a rarity, a 2010 Chiroubles from the enigmatic Jean-Marc Brignot, for $75. Personally, I’d like to drink through the entire list.

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Grgich Hills Earthquake

Michael Eckstein, Associate Winemaker at Grgich Hills with damaged barrels of Zinfandel.

Our best wishes go out to all people, and all wineries, affected by the earthquake in Napa. Here is a roundup of what we’ve learned about some of our organic winemakers.

Frog’s Leap

On Twitter, Frog’s Leap posted:

Thankfully, we had minor damage & will reopen Monday. RT @TIME: The largest earthquake to hit Napa Valley in 25 years

Robert Sinskey

On Twitter, Robert Sinskey posted:

Robert Sinskey Vineyards made it through the earthquake largely unscathed! We are OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Come visit us!

Grgich Hills

On Facebook, Grgich Hills posted:

Thank you to everyone for your phone calls, emails and texts! We are all safe and sound, with minimal earthquake damage to a few barrels. Come on by our Tasting Room – we are opening up now for tasting only, no tours or stomping just to be on the safe side.

Domaine Carneros

The Los Angeles Times spoke with T.J. Evans at Domaine Carneros:

T.J. Evans, winemaker at Domaine Carneros in Napa, said a 3,000- and 6,000-gallon tank filled with sparking wine showed signs of minor damage after swaying from their concrete moorings.

Power was out briefly, leaving no way for coolant to calm the hot fermentation of the wine. The winery’s barrels, however, were undisturbed.

“We’re extraordinarily lucky,” Evans said. “We have a little survivor’s guilt.”

Tres Sabores

Tres Sabores on Twitter:

#napaearthquake an experience to be virtually launched out of bed. TS ppl safe tgdns but not good for rest/retail friends + wishes friends

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