If these were normal times, and the world’s longest undefended border was open, I would have been in Oregon’s Willamette Valley last weekend, participating in the 2020 version of the Wine Media Conference.
But alas, these are Covid-19, not normal times. Nevertheless, the Oregon Wine Board, made it possible for me to participate in this at-home tasting by generously sending me the bottles via courier, paying for customs clearance, and covering the tax hit.
Oregon is a favourite state, and I’ve visited both AVAs featured – Willamette Valley (Winderlea Vineyard and Winery), and the Applegate Valley (Troon Vineyard) many times – but I hadn’t known that the state has 52% of US Demeter certified biodynamic vineyards located there.
Troon is Demeter certified biodynamic, as well as CCOF organic, while Winderlea is Demeter certified, and organic, in addition to being a Certified B Corporation. What’s that? It’s “…a business that meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” Oregon has 8 B-Corp wineries (more than any other US state). There are a mere 12 in the US, and only 28 in the world. The exacting ethics and standards demanded make it rare for any business to be a member of this group.
When everyone is onboard with these serious certifications, you can bet that attention to detail exhibited in the vineyard, and during the wine making process will be second to none – and that the quality of the wines produced will follow suit.
This was borne out during the tasting. Troon’s Kubli Bench Amber (US$30), a very cool and delicious orange wine made with indigenous yeasts and foot trodden from 74% Riesling, 16% Vermentino, and 10% Viognier, was sherry-like with navel orange peel, marmalade, honey, and some salinity. A tannic black tea rinse, and great acidity rounded out its balanced beauty. Winderlea’s whole cluster ‘Imprint’ Pinot Noir (US$53) was an outstanding version showing cassis, purple plum, and bramble with an elegantly savory umami, Five Spice, and soya sauce punctured minerality.
Our 22 person online discussion regarding the wines and their production in accordance with biodynamic and other tenets was fascinating. Craig Camp of Troon spoke about biodynamics as the framework for moving forward into regenerative agriculture, as well as the realities associated with buying thousands of yards of cow dung to build soil health (that’s a lot of poop). And it culminated with an observation by Bill Sweat of Winderlea.
“There’s a growing cohort of consumers who have an
interest in buying products that are sustainable…
Biodynamics represents an ethos and a
way to frame the sustainability… We think about
everything growing in, above and on the vineyard floor.”
The way the world is evolving these days, regenerative agriculture seems like a small amount of effort to keep our planet on an even keel, to fully participate in being part of the change we want to see, and to reimburse the earth for the burden it has carried for so long.
Are you one of those consumers? I’d love to see your comments below. Enjoy the wine.