Hidden away in a remote river valley of a region historically known more for gold than grapes is Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden, a boutique Demeter-certified Biodynamic estate winery whose first releases are the toast of The James Beard Foundation, Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit, and Oregon’s emerging eco-culinary scene.
Sharing qualities comparable to the world-renowned Châteauneuf-du-Pape region of France’s southern Rhône Valley, Cowhorn sits alongside Southern Oregon’s pristine Applegate River. The farm is fringed by frontier forests on the edge of America’s great western wilderness and supported by soils that are perfectly suited for Grenache, Marsanne, Roussanne, Syrah, and Viognier. Cowhorn’s classic Rhône varietals result in well-balanced wines with low alcohol and high aroma that express signature subtleties of the farm’s unique soils.
Among the new estate’s early accolades is a 90-point rating from Wine Spectator for its 2007 Viognier, now sold out. In their annual round up of most memorable wines, the San Francisco Chronicle featured Cowhorn’s 2007 Marsanne Roussanne, also sold out, as one of the year’s top 20 “unexpected pleasures.” Portland Monthly told readers to “expect to sample some really excellent vino here.” Cowhorn’s 2006 Syrah and 2008 Spiral 36, a hand-crafted blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, were recently poured at The James Beard House in New York City and Fortune magazine’s annual women’s summit in Los Angeles.
Currently the only certified organic and Biodynamic® winery in Southern Oregon, Cowhorn is among the first certified Biodynamic estate wineries and commercial farms in the United States. Guided by holistic-estate advisor Alan York, consultant winemaker Ken Bernards, and environmental designer Buddy Williams, Cowhorn planted its first eleven acres of vineyard in 2005. Using state-of-the-art technology, winemakers Bill and Barbara Steele gently nudge native yeast through the fermentation process on a mission to make fine wine with few inputs, going from grapes to glass as purely as possible.
Cowhorn benefits from being surrounded by biodiversity that serves as a natural immune system for the vineyard and gardens. When combined with organic and Biodynamic farming methods, this symbiotic relationship not only eliminates the need for petrochemical pesticides but supports the vitality of the surrounding ecosystem. Over half of the 117-acre estate is reserved for garden, habitat, forest and riparian areas with just 50 acres set aside for vineyards. Only 15 acres are currently in cultivation, including 11 in vineyard and 4 in gardens.
Their gentle approach includes complementary farming practices that create critical habitat breaks and wildlife corridors, leave landscapes untouched and intact, and remove invasive species to give native plants a chance to take root again. At Cowhorn, scarecrows have given way to predator perches that allow river access for raptors who in turn guard the grapes.
Because Biodynamic farming is deeply rooted in the practice of perennial polyculture, crops are selected that pair well in the field and on the table. The first planting of asparagus, their second commercial crop, followed in 2006. By 2007, Cowhorn’s garden was supplying thousands of pounds of fresh asparagus to local markets and co-ops, and its club members were receiving the bounty of the farm’s first food crop with their wine allotment.
Other crops in development include artichokes, pumpkins, specialty corn, winter squash, and a test orchard for apples, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pears, and persimmons. The estate’s hazelnut trees have even been inoculated with European black truffle.
Visit Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden online at cowhornwine.com.
by Adam Morganstern
on Nov 18, 2009
in Press Releases
Pioneers in biodynamic winegrowing in New Zealand since 1983, James and Annie Millton’s winery, Millton Vineyards has recently received Demeter Certification. “It is great to see that my twenty six years of experience as a biodynamic winegrower are proving to be a useful foundation for the growth and acceptance of this methodology,” says James, who was instrumental in developing the Demeter wine standards in conjunction with the NZ Biodynamic Association.
Demeter is the only ecological association that has built up a network of individual certification organizations for agricultural products and represents more than 4.200 producers in 43 countries, with only 60 wineries recognized worldwide. Demeter Certification is based on the Biodynamic method, developed in 1924 by Dr Rudolf Steiner. Biodynamics focuses on treating the soil as a living organism and using a unique process of vineyard preparations and practices. As interest and demand for biodynamically grown products increases, this very unique and innovative method of cultivation is gaining more credence.
“It is somewhat amusing to consider that the conventional practice is centered around the control of ‘dis-ease’ whereas building harmony and balance is quite considerably easier to achieve with such innovative practice as we use,” says James. “By recognizing the energy and life forces within the universe all of the work of the farm is planned in the context of the wider pattern of lunar and cosmic rhythms. “Biodynamic farming takes a proactive rather than reactive approach to all aspects in the vineyard. Before a wine can be great, it must first be true”.
The Millton Vineyard is the only New Zealand wine producer in the union of producers commonly referred to as the ‘Return to Terroir – La Renaissance des Appellations”(www.biodynamy.com.) This group of 120 biodynamic wine producers come together several times a year to host tastings and exhibitions in cities globally including New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and London.
by Adam Morganstern
on Nov 11, 2009
in Press Releases
The inaugural Nedbank Green Wine Awards were announced today at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town.
The Nedbank Green Wine Awards have come about due to the increased popularity and consumer interest in this category. Nedbank was the natural partner for the awards due to their ongoing involvement with conservation projects. Their support for the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative through the Green Trust has been in effect since the organizations inception in 2004.
The Green Wine Awards are two pronged: Best Wine from Organically Grown Grapes, and Best Environmental Practices Award.
Best Wine from Organically Grown Grapes
Producers were asked to submit wines made from organically grown grapes together with valid organic certification. The wines were divided into categories according to grape variety or style and tasted blind (labels un-sighted) by a five-person panel appointed by WINE magazine.
One white and one red emerged a clear step above the competition, these being Lazanou Organic Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2008 and Laibach The Ladybird Red 2007 respectively. The Lazanou Organic Vineyards Chenin Blanc was declared the overall winner due to it’s higher arithmetic score.
Best Environmental Practices Award
The aim of incorporating a second category into the Nedbank Green Wine Awards was to recognize the effort being made amongst South African wineries to farm with a view to long term environmental sustainability.
Each producer was asked to provide comprehensive details on farming practices which were then judged according to guidelines set out by the Integrated Production of Wine (South Africa’s internationally recognized voluntary sustainability scheme established in 1998) and the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative.
The judges were Inge Kotzé, project coordinator for the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, Tom McLaughlin, good business journey specialist at Woolworths, and Lourens van Schoor, a registered soil and environmental scientist and director of environmental auditing firm Enviroscientific.
The winner was Oak Valley in Elgin which will receive an IPW audit worth R11 000 sponsored by Enviroscientific for both farm and cellar. The runner up was Waverly Hills.
Living in a new world. That is the concept that the De Martino winery is looking to convey to the consumer with the release of its Nuevo Mundo (New World) wine, the first Carbon Neutral wine in Chile and Latin America.
Produced from organically grown grapes in the Maipo Valley (BCS OKO- Garantie certified), this product has been certified as Carbon Neutral by the Carbon Reduction Institute and its offices in Chile—Green Solutions.
Nuevo Mundo is the first wine to have achieved Carbon Neutral certification at every stage of production, as—from birth until its arrival at the customer—all of the greenhouse gases released during its productions, packaging and delivery have been reduced to zero, making this a wine which does not impact negatively on climate change.
• Eco-friendly bottles are made from 35% recycled materials and have been reduced in weight by 9%.
• US Transport from Organic Vintners (US Importer) warehouse to each distributor has been accounted for and neutralized.
• High level of carbon emissions from business trips made by commercial team have been identified and neutralized.
• Labels are made from recycled paper and have low ink content.
• Amount of packaging and weight of boxes have been reduced and are made from recycled cardboard.
As a producer of premium wines in Chile, De Martino has been a pioneer and leader in sustainable organic production and in taking action against climate change. This fact is in keeping with the winery’s philosophy and its permanent commitment to respect the environment and local conservation in the production of its world class wines.
What is a carbon credit? A carbon credit is equal to one ton reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The sale of carbon credits helps to finance projects that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases or that prevent them from being processed in our atmosphere.
What does being carbon neutral mean? The definition of carbon neutral is any activity, product, service or organization that has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions both direct and indirect, and has neutralized the impact on climate change caused by any remaining emissions but also those from the entire supply chain. As well as directly decreasing global warming, it promotes the development of environmentally friendly initiatives.
The wine is imported into the United States by Organic Vintners.
First MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award
• Powerful partners: world’s leading exhibition cooperates with MUNDUSvini/Meininger Verlag
• Deadline: 21 November 2009
• Tasting from 7–9 December 2009 in Neustadt on the Wine Road
The wine segment at the World Organic Trade Fair gets another highlight in 2010 when BioFach and MUNDUSvini/Meininger Verlag organize the first MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award. The organic wine world has presented its products in the day-lit hall 4A at BioFach since 2008 and the new wine award will make it even more attractive. Altogether 318 organic wine exhibitors presented the results of their wine-making skills to visiting experts in 2009. Some 700 wines are expected to be entered for the first MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award in 2010. The samples sent in will be tasted and judged by an international jury of experts before the event. The medals will be presented officially at the next edition of the world-leading exhibition in the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg from 17–20 February as part of the official tour of the exhibition and in line with the good tradition of the previous BioFach International Wine Award.
The cooperation between BioFach, the World Organic Trade Fair, and MUNDUSvini/Meininger Verlag initially focuses on organizing the competition for the MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award. In the long term, both partners want to establish the organic wine award as an annual competition with the prize presentation during the BioFach exhibition in the NürnbergMesse exhibition centre.
“We are delighted to have a strong and highly regarded partner like MUNDUSvini and Meininger Verlag to support the organization of the MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award. The many years of experience of NürnbergMesse, the good reputation of BioFach, the expertise of MUNDUSvini in organizing top-class tastings and naturally the sound specialist knowledge of Meininger Verlag complement each other perfectly! I am sure this will be a pioneering joint project for the international organic wine market,” says Udo Funke, Exhibition Director of BioFach and Vivaness.
The aim of the MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award is to promote the quality and marketing of wines from organic production. On the one hand, the competition is to offer manufacturers, winegrowers, importers and consumers a forum for comparing the wines with each other, and on the other to provide consumers with valuable guidance when deciding which wine to buy.
The organization and implementation of the competition will be based on the MUNDUSvini Great International Wine Award and it will be subject to the same internationally recognized competition rules. The tasting of the samples entered will take place in Neustadt on the Wine Road from
7–9 December. This will be done by an international jury of experts comprising well-known and experienced tasters from all over the world. The judging is based on a 100-points system involving smell, taste and individual scoring using the sampling tables of the OIV (International Organisation of Vine and Wine) and the U.I.Œ. (International Union of Oenologists). The award winners are decided by a joint decision of the jury. The number of awards is limited to maximum 30 % of the samples entered in line with the OIV rules. The best wines receive “Special Gold”, “Gold” and “Silver” awards.
Eligible for entry are still wines, sparkling wines, perl wines and liqueur wines from organic cultivation with a number from an organic certification body. The deadline for sending samples is 21 November 2009. The full entry conditions and competition forms for the MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award can be requested from the MUNDUSvini organization team by phone on 06321 8908-9500 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The wines can be entered online at www.webpass-online.com.
Contact for press and media at NürnbergMesse:
Barbara Böck, Ellen Rascher
Tel +49 (0) 9 11. 86 06-83 28
Fax +49 (0) 9 11. 86 06-82 56
Contact for press and media at Meininger Verlag:
Tel +49 (0) 63 21. 89 08-19 10
Fax +49 (0) 63 21. 89 08-84
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Beckmen Vineyards is proud to announce that it has achieved both biodynamic and organic certifications for its Purisima Mountain Vineyard located in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. The culmination of a rigorous certification process through Demeter USA and Stellar Certification Services, these certifications reflect a strict commitment to both organic and biodynamic practices at Purisima Mountain Vineyard dating back to 2006.
In order to evaluate the benefits of biodynamic farming, its effect on the vineyard, and its elevation of wine quality, founders Tom and Steve Beckmen originally began experimenting with biodynamic farming on select blocks beginning in 2002. “Because consistency and quality are so important,” says Steve Beckmen, “we tested these methods before committing the whole vineyard. The results were immediately impressive. The biodynamically farmed vines grew straight up, the leaves were rich in color and healthy and the soils showed increased signs of life with improved structure. More importantly, the quality of both the grapes and wine from the experimental block was the finest we had ever seen.”
Building on these results, 2006 marked Beckmen’s transition to a fully dedicated program of biodynamic farming at Purisima Mountain Vineyard under the guidance of respected biodynamic consultant, Philippe Armenier. As a result, all 125 planted vine acres of Purisima Mountain Vineyard are now certified both biodynamic and organic, with the property’s surrounding 240 unplanted acres acting as a natural buffer zone.
“This certification is an important validation of our continued hard work,” further states Steve Beckmen. “With more and more businesses talking about their environmental commitment, third party certifications help consumers sort through the hype. This said, biodynamics isn’t just about being good stewards of our land, it’s about making great wines. Biodynamics allows us to achieve the purest possible expression of our Purisima Mountain Vineyard terroir, which is at the very heart of our winegrowing philosophy. Since we’ve gone biodynamic, we have produced our best wines ever.”
Founded in 1994, Beckmen Vineyards is a family-run, estate winery that has established a reputation as one of North America’s premier producers of Rhône-varietal wines. The Beckmen Vineyards portfolio includes estate-grown Syrah, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Rosé, Marsanne, and its Cuvée Le Bec and Purisima blends. In addition to its Rhône varietals, Beckmen Vineyards also makes Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon from special vineyard blocks that are ideally suited to these wines.
Writings of Nicholas Herbemont, Master Viticulturist
Edited by David S. Shields
This volume collects the most important writings on viticulture by Nicholas Herbemont (1771-1839), who is widely considered the finest practicing winemaker of the early United States. Included are his two major treatises on viticulture, thirty-one other published pieces on vine growing and wine making, and essays that outline his agrarian philosophy. Over the course of his career, Herbemont cultivated more than three hundred varieties of grapes in a garden the size of a city block in Columbia, South Carolina, and in a vineyard at his plantation, Palmyra, just outside the city.
Born in France, Herbemont carefully tested the most widely held methods of growing, pruning, processing, and fermentation in use in Europe to see which proved effective in the southern environment. His treatise “Wine Making,” first published in the American Farmer in 1833, became for a generation the most widely read and reliable American guide to the art of producing potable vintage.
David S. Shields, in his introductory essay, positions Herbemont not only as important to the history of viticulture in America but also as a notable proponent of agricultural reform in the South. Herbemont advocated such practices as crop rotation and soil replenishment and was an outspoken critic of slave-based cotton culture.
David S. Shields is McClintock Professor of Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina. He edits the journal Early American Literature and also serves as general editor of the Publications of the Southern Texts Society series. Shields’s books include Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America and Oracles of Empire: Poetry, Politics, and Commerce in British America, 1690-1750.
by Adam Morganstern
on Feb 10, 2009
in Press Releases
Ehlers Estate is pleased to announce the appointment of Kevin Morrisey to the position of winemaker and general manager. Morrisey comes to Ehlers Estate from the acclaimed Stags’ Leap Winery where he was the winemaker and general manager since the spring of 2005.
A graduate of the Master’s program in Enology at the University of California, Davis, Morrisey brings with him a reputation for making complex, structured, and balanced wines that express terroir. With dual French/American citizenship, Morrisey took an internship in Pomerol working for legendary winemaker Jean-Claude Berrouet at Château Pétrus. Shortly after his return to the United States, Morrisey joined the team at Stags’ Leap Winery, where he rapidly advanced from enologist to assistant winemaker to associate winemaker. In 2003, Tony Soter, the renowned founder of Etude Wines, hired Morrisey to work alongside him as winemaker and director of operations. In 2005, when Winemaker Robert Brittan left Stags’ Leap, Morrisey was asked back to oversee all aspects of winemaking and operations for the historic Napa Valley estate.
“Kevin is a gifted winemaker, who has learned his craft from mentors on two continents,” says Mark Larson, Ehlers Estate’s chief executive officer. “His approach to winemaking is an extension of his connection to the land and his passion for winegrowing. Kevin believes in creating site-specific, terroir-driven wines—which is at the core of our winemaking philosophy here at Ehlers Estate.” Larson added that, in addition to overseeing winemaking at Ehlers and guiding the winery’s estate wines program, Kevin will apply his extensive leadership skills as general manager of the company.
“Being a part of the small, dedicated team at Ehlers Estate is something I am very excited about,” says Morrisey. “This is a classic, proven, Cabernet terroir that is being meticulously farmed. The wines are made at a century-old winery with a rich history, and there is a passion and an intimacy to the approach that I find very inspiring. Ehlers has a great and truly unique mission. Like the Napa Valley, Ehlers Estate has a lot of heart.”
Ehlers Estate combines a historic winegrowing estate, environmental consciousness and international philanthropy. The winery’s diverse Napa Valley vineyard, which is biodynamically farmed and organically certified, is cultivated as a mosaic of 32 small vineyard blocks to produce exceptional estate-grown Bordeaux-varietal wines. All proceeds from the sale of these wines fund international cardiovascular research through the esteemed Leducq Foundation.