Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine

From the Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard website:

Following 30 years of organic production of English wines under Soil Association organic standards here at Sedlescombe, the process of converting to Demeter accreditation under standards set by the Biodynamic Association was started in Spring 2010.

As we were already operating according to EU 2092/91 regulation, a conversion period is unnecessary and our wine produced from 2010 grapes will be Bio-dynamic certified. This wine will be released in Spring 2011.

On becoming Bio-dynamic, Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard will apply to join the prestigious world-wide groupings of Bio-dynamic Vineyards as a member of “Return to Terroir”. This group, founded by Nicolas Joly, seeks to re-assert the individuality and difference of wines produced in different regions and in different localities and to set itself apart from the faceless blandness and conformity of the products of international wine conglomerates.

Roy & Irma Cook, in association with vineyard manager Inga Keck (see below photo) are now applying the principles of Biodynamic agriculture as laid down by Rudolf Steiner in 1924, on all 22 acres of their organic vineyards.

One of the main differences between organic and bio-dynamic lies in the application of specially composted manures and silica extracts designed to promote microbiological activity in the soil to improve fertility and to enhance light uptake and photosynthesis through the plants leaves.

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The 2010 harvest will mark DeLoach Vineyards’ 35th vintage in the Russian River Valley, and will be the first harvest from its estate vineyards since achieving certification for organic and Biodynamic® farming practices in 2008 and 2009, respectively. To celebrate this milestone and commitment to sustainable farming, DeLoach, in partnership with Rodale Inc.’s Organic Gardening magazine, is offering the chance to win a weekend getaway at the winery’s private guesthouse retreat. The sweepstakes runs now through November 9th, 2010. Consumers can enter to win (it is free to enter, and no purchase is required), and learn more about DeLoach and its commitment to sustainable winegrowing, at

Free airfare for two, gourmet meals prepared by the DeLoach chef, and a VIP tour of the DeLoach winery and its highly-acclaimed portfolio of small-production, vineyard-designate wines are but accoutrements to the opportunity to learn about Biodynamic® winegrowing from one of the Russian River Valley’s pioneering producers of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. Sweepstakes winners will arrive at DeLoach with perhaps an appreciation for wine and a need for a vacation, but will leave well-rested, well-fed, and with a greater understanding of responsible, sustainable farming methods and their effects on both the wine world and the environment as a whole. DeLoach is part of a small community of like-minded wineries that have made the commitment to seek Demeter certification for Biodynamic farming practices. Currently, there are just sixty-eight wineries and vineyards in the U.S. that have or are seeking Demeter Biodynamic® certification.

About DeLoach Vineyards

DeLoach Vineyards has been a pioneering producer of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley since 1975. DeLoach seeks to produce exceptional wines that spotlight the singular personality of the Russian River Valley, with its rare and bountiful convergence of the sea, the soil and the stars. The Boisset family of Burgundy purchased DeLoach in 2003, bringing the techniques and approaches of Burgundy to the Russian River Valley, which they believed to be California’s most expressive terroir for cultivating Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Under Boisset, DeLoach has grown its small-lot vineyard designate wine program, converted to organic and Biodynamic® farming practices, and implemented traditional Burgundian winemaking techniques such as open-top wood fermentors, native yeast fermentations, and hand punch-downs. Wine & Spirits magazine named DeLoach Vineyards a Top 100 Winery for the tenth time in the winery’s history in 2009. Located at 1791 Olivet Road in Santa Rosa, the DeLoach Vineyards tasting room, picnic area and organic garden are open to the public daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit

About Organic Gardening

For 70 years, Rodale’s Organic Gardening, the leading magazine resource for living a healthier, more environmentally conscious lifestyle, has been empowering its readers with the most trusted, eco-friendly news and information. With the mission to “work in harmony with nature,” its editorial landscape leads the charge toward a sustainable future, delivering the safest and most natural approach to health, home, food and garden. In 2009, the magazine experienced double-digit gains in ad sales, newsstand sales and total circulation, further reinforcing the power and growing vitality of the green movement. In 2010, Organic Gardening earned the #8 spot on AdWeek’s prestigious “Hot List: 10 Under 60.”

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Lake County, CA: The Boies and Hawkins families cordially invite you to visit their Demeter Biodynamic 900 acre ranch and vineyard Estate where they will meet you in person. Hawk and Horse Vineyards is situated in Lower Lake, California, on the historic 900 acre Diamond B Ranch, owned by famed New York attorney, David Boies and family. Mitch and Tracey Hawkins (Tracey is Mr. Boies step-daughter) are the managing partners of Hawk and Horse Vineyards. They have transformed 18 acres of the rough, California North Coast hillside land from an untamed and overgrown 150-year old walnut grove to the beautifully manicured, yet naturally wild vineyard. Owl boxes, hawk perches and bluebird boxes dot the landscape. French Prune trees are planted on the perimeter of the vineyard to encourage beneficial insects – and the vine-rows, themselves, are carpeted in a carefully selected mix of beneficial ground cover – crimson clover, yarrow, bell-beans, and other low-growing flowering plants and herbs which encourage beneficial insects.

“We have been flying under the radar, producing very small quantities of ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon wine made from grapes from our own vineyard and selling it direct. Now we have opened our ranch and vineyard for tours and on-site tastings. We have been blessed with all of the natural elements needed to make a wine of world-class distinction – high-elevation volcanic soil, natural spring water, and climate perfectly suited to growing Cabernet Sauvignon. We have taken these elements carefully in hand and created what we feel are wines that offer something very unique – a wine that truly expresses the finest elements of our teroir. Our commitment has been to producing a wine of the highest excellence.“ , says Tracey Hawkins.

“We believe that the wine is made in the vineyard and adhere to old-world farming and wine making practices. We harvest our grapes when the balance of sugar, acid and ph are at just the right balance. Ripeness is an expression of all of those things along with the time-tested method of taste. Bringing in fruit at its optimal maturity means that we have very little to do in the winery and that our wines are made in the most natural way to complement each vintage. We incorporate Biodynamic and Organic farming practices, not because it is trendy, but, simply, because it is the best way to make a wine which is true to place – a wine distinct and expressive of our unique terroir.”

Farming is done by hand. No chemical preparations are used. Instead, Hawk and Horse Vineyards applies Biodynamic preparations – made from elements on site – to enliven the soil. Valuable compost along with Biodynamic preparations such as 500 – Horn Dung; 501 – Horn Cilicia, and herbal teas are made and used. A small herd of Scottish Highlander cattle make their home on Diamond B Ranch – their sole purpose being to provide the basic ingredients of the Biodynamic Preparations used in the vineyard. The Highlanders are an ancient breed known for hardiness, ease in calving, high quality beef and superb hides. They also add a sense of loveliness and grace to the landscape. In addition to the Highlanders, Horses play a role in the daily work on HHV. Mitch and Tracey use their American Saddlebred horses to ride the fence line, while daughters, Francesca and Nina Hawkins compete in traditional Rodeo and Gymkhana events.

Another old-world aspect of Hawk and Horse Vineyards – when you phone to purchase wines, you’ll speak directly with owner, Tracey Hawkins. She will be happy to talk wine, farming or horses with you. If you get Mitch, speak loudly as he will most likely be on a tractor!

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Organic Brandy is now available from Harris Organic Wines in Perth’s Swan Valley.

The brandy – certified by the body Australian Certified Organic (ACO) – is distilled and matured in oak casks on the premises at Harris Organic Wines.

Being certified organic means that there is no other brandy like this in Australia. Matured into a smooth high quality cognac style with flavours of almond, coconut, fig, vanilla, apricot, hazelnut, caramel and nutmeg.

“Most brandy sold in Australia is imported, so this brandy is very special for many reasons” says Duncan.

Duncan and Deborah believe that organics is indeed the best way to go in any food operation, not only from the point of view of human health, but just as importantly the health of the environment and so sustainable production practices.

“It is important that our customers get the assurance from an independent certifying body about the organic integrity, as well as the quality of our organic wine” says Duncan.

“Although our vineyard and winery is very small, the organics movement itself is part of a larger world-wide realisation that we have to become conscious consumers – to give something back to the lived environment. Informed consumers want to know what is going into their goods and foods, and the reassurance that production has not been harmful to the environment – and more power to them!”.

Visit Harris Wines online.

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Napa Valley, CA, March 31, 2010 – HALL Wines, the premier 21st century vineyard and winery, announces today that it has received Organic Certification from the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), one of the nation’s oldest and largest organic certification and trade associations in North America. This achievement reinforces HALL Wines’ steadfast commitment to sustainability following HALL St. Helena’s Gold LEED® Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council in July 2009.

“One of the greatest benefits to practicing organic farming methods is that we spend more time in the vineyard,” said Don Munk, Director of Vineyard Operations at HALL Wines. “This allows us to really pay attention to what is happening naturally. Organic farming utilizes preventive methods as opposed to corrective activities, allowing HALL to create a healthier soil for our vineyards which, in return, increases the longevity of the vines and the overall health of the land.”

Organic farming certification requires that HALL adhere to strict standards in order to maintain soil fertility and crop nutrition. The practice of farming organically produces one of the smallest carbon footprints of any agricultural process, maintains the diversity of plants, and ensures the presence of native species to establish the long term health and fertility of the soil; thereby allowing for increased longevity for vineyards. With the focus on natural products, HALL Wines does not use chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or herbicides. Instead, HALL Wines creates a habitat for natural predators and plants cover crops to help build healthy matter in the soil. The HALL Team, dedicated to the art of handcrafted winemaking, spends an immense amount of time in the vineyards, diligently monitoring water stress, vine health, vine balance and grape maturity to guarantee that the grapes are nurtured to their highest potential.

The organic farming certification process spans three years and each of HALL’s six estates located throughout Napa Valley and Alexander Valley in Sonoma County follow the strict guidelines set forth by the CCOF. To date in 2010, 355 acres owned by the HALL’s have been certified organic. The last of the estate vineyards, known as the Hardester Ranch with 145 planted acres, will receive its organic certification on August 18, 2010.

Kathryn and Craig Hall, Owners of HALL Wines, made it a long-term mission to become a leader in earth-friendly California winegrowing and serve as stewards of the land. HALL St. Helena is the first Gold LEED® Certified Winery in the State of California, making HALL Wines a pioneer in the use of green buildings in the wine industry. HALL St. Helena maintains one acre of solar panels on its roof and uses 100% recycled water throughout its processes. HALL further extends their environmental responsibilities to their general operations via the use of bio-diesel in their farming equipment in addition to their fish–friendly farming techniques, which aids to protect the waterways and sustain and support the environment. Furthermore, all of HALL estate vineyards are enrolled in the Napa Green program, the wine industry’s most comprehensive “best practices” in land-use and wine production focusing on building environmentally sound, sustainable practices.

Visit Hall Wines online.

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Twenty years after Philippe Drouhin first began introducing organic practices to the vineyards making up the family company’s domaine (estate), Maison Joseph Drouhin (MJD), the highly regarded producer of Burgundy wines, has been awarded organic certification for all grapes grown within its vineyards beginning with the 2009 vintage. Announcement of the certification was made by Frédéric Drouhin, chief executive officer and president of Joseph Drouhin.

Although the Drouhin vineyards have been organic for years, official regulations require a three- year “conversion” period during which the rules of organic production are applied and verified in the vineyards. The certification process began in August 2006 with a lengthy application to Ecocert, one of several registered companies documenting organic production.

While 2009 is the official vintage year for organic certification, Philippe Drouhin, one of the four siblings running MJD and the one in charge of the company’s 73-hectare (182.5-acre) estate, including 38 hectares (just under 93 acres) of Chablis, now known as Chablis Drouhin Vaudon, began introducing organic practices back in 1990, shortly after joining the family firm. His father, Robert, had already returned to “culture raisonnée,” more traditional viticultural practices, in the late ’70s, but, as he says, “Philippe went further than I.”

Since he took over, Philippe has moved away from all but the most simple and natural treatments of the vine toward a non-interventionist approach and, beginning in 1997, has instituted many of the practices of biodynamie. Considered a leader in the field by fellow Burgundians, Philippe’s credo – and that of the entire family and company – is to bring natural responses to natural problems. Some vineyards are plowed by horses in the steepest areas; grass grows between vines to keep down weeds, fertilization is with natural compost; and treatments are done with herb infusions.

While many wine marketers trumpet organic and “green” credentials with seals, stickers, neckers and brochures, Maison Joseph Drouhin, in its principled and understated way, will confine its achievement only to press releases and web site information. Consumers may be assured, however, that beginning with the 2009 vintage, wines from Joseph Drouhin vineyards, most bearing the words “propriété de famille” on the label, are officially organic – as they actually have been for the past 20 years.

Known and appreciated for their elegant, refined style, the wines of Joseph Drouhin are imported into the U.S. and distributed nationally by Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., based in New York City, whose mission as an importer is to maintain loyalty to all that is special about family-owned and
-operated wineries.

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Wine importer J. Soif, Inc. has today announced two significant partnerships it has established through its certified organic wine brand, Yellow+Blue, making it the only carbon-neutral wine importer in the U.S. and the only wine importer in the world to put a portion of its sales towards global microloans.

Due to its eco-friendly Tetra Pak packaging, the carbon footprint of Yellow+Blue wines is 46% less than that of wine in traditional glass bottles. In order to offset the remaining 54%, the company has purchased 472 metric tons of verified carbon offsets to take responsibility for one hundred percent of the emissions generated by moving its wine from the vineyards to its packaging plants and warehouses. The carbon credits, which were purchased from Boulder, CO based Renewable Choice Energy, support a landfill gas-to-energy carbon reduction project in the United States.

“Yellow+Blue’s commitment to analyzing its environmental footprint and supporting carbon reduction shows leadership and demonstrates a best practice for environmental responsibility,” said Quayle Hodek, CEO of Renewable Choice Energy. “This organization is creating awareness for voluntary carbon reductions and the importance of investing in clean technology solutions.”

“Keeping in the spirit of our Drink Well Do Good mantra, oenophiles can not only enjoy our wine, they can feel good about buying it,” said W. Matthew Cain, founder of Yellow+Blue. “I’m proud to say that Yellow+Blue’s investment has the collective environmental impact to help avoid the same amount of CO2 emissions produced by driving nearly 1.1 million miles in an average passenger vehicle.”

Yellow+Blue has also devoted itself to strengthening the global community by becoming an official partner of Kiva (, the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website. Yellow+Blue is giving 1 percent of each sale to Kiva, which empowers unique entrepreneurs around the globe and strives to alleviate poverty. Currently, Yellow+Blue is the only wine brand in the world to join the Kiva community of over 662,000 individuals who have loaned more than $117 million to 290,000 entrepreneurs in 51 countries.

“Yellow+Blue’s decision to work with Kiva is an important milestone for both of our organizations,” said Premal Shah, President of “We’re looking forward to all the positive things to come from this partnership and admire its dedication in helping to make Kiva the world’s hub for alleviating poverty.”

“Our commitment to Kiva strives to enable entrepreneurs throughout the world to realize their dreams of creating a company and giving back to their communities,” said W. Matthew Cain, founder of Yellow+Blue. “As the only wine company affiliated with the organization, we hope that with each glass of Yellow+Blue poured, an entrepreneur somewhere in the world is a step closer achieving his or her goal.”

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cowhornHidden 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

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