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Taste the Biodynamic Difference!
Wine Spirit and Fact, Not Fantasy
As there is an art to producing great wines, there is an art to producing the fruit that composes them. The Biodynamic (Greek for “life energy”) approach to growing grapes and ultimately producing wines — a sort of hyper-organic practice — promises to complete, and renew, the cycle of viticultural life each season. Incorporating techniques as diverse as feng shui and homeopathy, those who favor this spiritual and scientific practice claim it adds distinctive flavor to their wines. It also promotes the health of the soil and of the souls who touch these remarkable vines and wines each step of the way. How, and what is the result?
The roots of Biodynamic farming lie in a series of lectures given in 1924 by Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner, commissioned by farmers who had concerns about a decline of crops and animal welfare in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. Steiner stressed connecting agriculture to the influence of planetary cycles, and caring for the well-being of soil and beneficial organisms. He believed that force and vitality is taken from the soil with each harvest, creating a need for renewal. He saw each farm as an individual organism, and that developing a healthy relationship between farmer and soil is essential.
Grower and Winemaker George Davis of Porter Creek Vineyards in the Russian River Valley is a longtime organic grape producer who is in the process of certified Demeter conversion to the Biodynamic method. He says that these are “wines that came from somewhere”, getting obstacles out of the way as life energy moves from his earth to your glass. Martin Rex of Deerfield Ranch speaks of the feng shui of his new vineyard, going so far to place a large boulder in the middle of the land for optimal energy. Michael Topolos explains that vines grow more vigorously on curved rows. His vines are also surrounded with special plantings to protect them and filter out road pollution.
The use of natural fertilizers and even homeopathic preparations promote vine health and controls pests. Beneficial insects are given homes, not just dumped out of a bag into the field. Harvest and pruning are performed in concert with cycles of sap rising and falling, and of tides and moon, not unlike some of the factors guiding the Farmer’s Almanac. The most talked-about practice is the ritualistic burial of cow’s horns filled with cow (not steer) manure (preferably from the same field) and fermented herbs, all buried at the fall solstice. In the spring the horns are dug up, and the decomposed hummus is added to water and sprayed on the vineyard. This agricultural homeopathy completes a cycle of renewal.
The result is healthier vines, with more resistance to disease and pests, making the idea of using chemicals even less attractive. Winemakers consider the wines to be superior aromatically and the wines taste more complex, revealing the essential character of the particular vineyard and soil. This is an interesting parallel to commercial focus on vineyard designation in small production wines. In a recent blind competition conducted by Fortune Magazine in May, 9 of 10 biodynamically produced wines beat the competition!
Interested in these wines? The offerings of biodynamically produced wines at Topolos include legendary old vine Zinfandels that also paved the way for another significant style. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about vineyard practice and spirit. The new Biodynamic Tasting Area at Benziger Family Winery offers a unique flight of current offerings, allowing you to compare, all presented in a special room with pictures and information detailing this exceptional practice. These limited production wines are only available at the winery in Glen Ellen.
The practice invites controversy. Some people want to characterize it as bizarre or nonsensical, while devotees are sometimes critical of those who brazenly “sell” the concept. There is an interesting reluctance to market these wines, a tension between the sincere spirituality of these farmers and crass commercialism. But these wines make a difference to our planet, and fill your glass with exceptional qualities. Can Biodynamic production make better wines as well? Taste the difference and decide for yourself!
Article contributed by Taylor PoffAmanda’s Massage & Bodycare
Revitalize in Downtown Napa!
Amanda’s Massage & Bodycare awaits you on the second floor of the Historic Dr. Welti House located in downtown Napa on First Street. Walking up the staircase of the restored landmark building, you enter a space filled with natural light, natural scents and decorated with distinctive vintage charm. The owner, Amanda Lewis, takes pride in offering busy locals and tourists a “spa alternative”. According to Lewis’ philosophy, therapeutic services should be priced to include the best of everything, all the time. Insisting that massages are not priced by technique but strictly by time is one example of the refreshing & nurturing approach you will find Amanda's.
Their caring and experienced professionals on board work hard to provide quality service and customize your session to suit each body. Indulge and experience an integrated technique combining a Swedish foundation with elements of Deep Tissue, Trigger Point, Sport, Reflexology and Essential Energy.
Begin by choosing from four custom-blended, therapeutic grade aromatherapy oils before sinking into a plush, heated massage table. All massages include a hot/cold pack, a pain relieving liniment and a jojoba essential oil blend for the face. A variety of Massage Therapy, Bodycare Treatments, Mani/Pedicures and Gels are offered. For those wanting to experience a stimulating all-inclusive treatment, look at the various packages and specials available year-round.
Calistoga Jazz and Blues Festival
Wine Country Featured Destination
Livermore Valley Wine Country — Convenient to City, Far from the Crowd
Located minutes from San Francisco and San Jose, just east of Oakland, the Livermore Valley is one of America’s oldest wine producing areas. Their rich viticulture history dates back to the California Gold Rush days, when Robert Livermore planted the first commercial vines in the 1840’s. By 1889, a Livermore wine had secured America’s first international gold medal, and Livermore Valley was later the first to bottle varietal Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Petite Sirah wines. Today, Livermore wine country has a lot to offer…superb wines, delicious cuisine, accommodations, activities, events and much more!
The Livermore Valley enjoys some of the finest weather in the Bay Area. A hot climate favors big red varietals, though exceptional white wines can also be found. When you visit, Livermore’s picturesque oasis of vineyards and more than 25 wineries should surely be your focus. Old-time brands and larger wineries — names like Concannon and Wente — mingle with newer, small production artisans. The larger wineries also offer unique selections from small lots that can’t be found anywhere else.
So, if a vacation beckons, or a last-minute urge to visit strikes, here are some highlights large and small:
The Wente Vineyards Estate Winery has something for everyone, with a gourmet restaurant (a great spot for Sunday brunch), championship golf course and the historic Estate Winery Tasting Room. Concannon Vineyard has been producing award-wining wines for 120 years. Internationally known for its Petite Sirah, Concannon was the first to produce and bottle this varietal with its distinctive inky color and full-flavored character.
If you like artisan wines, there are many to recommend. Eckert Estate Winery, also known for Petite Sirah, opened to the public in 2001. Small but offering great quality and value, their 2000 Lodi Petite Sirah won a Gold Medal and Best in Class award at the California State Fair! Murrieta's Well Winery is named for its artesian well where a band of desperados watered their horses. Their fascinating wine called Zarzuela is artfully blended from barrel-fermented Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional, Petite Verdot, Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Perched atop Crane Ridge is the White Crane Winery, where guests enjoy limited production ultra-premium wines. The Vineyard Inn Bed and Breakfast located here is also a unique accommodation idea. The Rose Hotel, a newer Victorian-style boutique hotel located in nearby Pleasanton, is another exceptional choice for accommodation.
Many wineries in this wine country destination are open weekends only, so be sure to check tasting room schedules, or call in advance for an appointment. For more information, the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association offers a great site. They also organize events throughout the year…it isn’t too soon to plan for Holidays in the Vineyards, an open house of wineries celebrating the season by sharing the joy of special wines, crafts, music and more — Saturday & Sunday December 4th & 5th.
October 19 - 24 — Charles Schwab Cup Championship
WineCountry.com is giving away two Weekly Ticket & Wine Festival Passes to the first person who responds with the full name of the 2003 Charles Schwab Cup Championship winner. Please email responses to Kimberly@WineCountry.com.
Wine Country Recipe
Grape Leaf Inn Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese Dill Strata
Co-owner and chef Kae Rosenberg regularly prepares this gourmet delight for Grape Leaf Inn guests. Her culinary skills were developed under the close tutelage of her Mom, Helen Dawson, a well-recognized culinary expert from Bremerton, Washington. The following recipe is one of Rosenberg’s specialties.
Preheat oven @ 350 degrees
Butter a 9x 13” baking dish. Arrange Broccoli, ½ green onions in bottom of dish.
Sprinkle with smoked Salmon, cream cheese, and remaining green onions. Combine eggs, milk, Bisquick, white pepper, dill weed and grated havarti. Blend until smooth.
Pour batter over salmon and vegetable layers. Bake until set in center, approximately one hour. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Editor Pick — 2001 Maximus
Bennett Lane Winery’s 2001 Maximus is
an intriguing, classy blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot
and 12% Zinfandel sourced from the Oakville and Rutherford areas
of the Napa Valley. To a
backbone of rich Bordeaux flavor, the Zin adds an uncommon touch of spice
and slightly sweet fruitiness. Rich but supple, there is terrific
weight and smooth body to this finely tuned and complex wine, also an
excellent value! To try or buy this stellar wine, visit http://www.bennettlane.com/
A Wine & Food Affair
November 6, 7 – 6th
Annual Wine & Food Affair
All of the participating wineries submitted their favorite recipe in the “Tasting Along the Wine Road” cookbook. They will prepare their featured recipes and pair with wine. Ticket price includes both Saturday and Sunday, the cookbook, and an event logo glass. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend these two fun-filled days of wine and food pairing. This event sells out early every year, so buy your tickets now!
Fee: $40 per person / $15 per person for Designated Drivers
Editor Pick — Virginia is for Wine Lovers
Ten wineries an hour from Washington, DC will celebrate the fall harvest season with a progressive wine weekend October 9-11. Wine lovers who travel the Blue Ridge WineWay, Virginia's version of the Napa Wine Trail, will find live entertainment, complimentary hors d'oeuvres and other festivities at each participating winery. A brochure and map of the WineWay can be found at www.BlueRidgeWineWay.com or by calling 800/820- 1021.
Editor Pick — Come Back to your Senses
If at the end of your week you feel a bit like a warrior returning form battle then our recent experience at the The Spa at The Carneros Inn will be exactly what you need. Try the 90 minute Royal Thai Herbal Massage ....legend has it that this is what revived Thai soldiers returning from the wars and it certainly worked wonders for us. Click here for details http://www.thecarnerosinn.com/spa_massage.html
What better way to experience the Harvest Season in Napa Valley then with premier wine from both Robert Mondavi Winery and Kendall Jackson Winery! Begin your day with a Vineyard and Winery tour of Robert Mondavi located right off of Highway 29. Then head over to Kendall Jackson for a reserve tasting.
No day is complete in Napa Valley without sampling some of the finest gourmet cuisine in the country. Greystone Restaurant is an excellent option for either lunch or dinner and features local, seasonal ingredients from the agricultural bounty of California.Top the evening off with the classic wine train ride through the scenic countryside of Napa aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train. This culinary adventure will surely delight and be a treat remembered for years to come.
Click here to enter this drawing! (Please note: If you are already subscribed to the newsletter, you are automatically entered in this drawing.)The Winner of this Drawing will be announced on The Winner's Page after December 19, 2004.
(*some restrictions apply)
***No purchase necessary. Must be at least 21 years old to enter. Only one entry per person permitted. Winner will be selected December 19, 2004 by random drawing. Winner will be notified by email. Employees of Freerun Technologies are ineligible. Void where prohibited by law.