Magic in the Vineyards: Oregon’s Biodynamic Wines

Magic in the Vineyards: Oregon's Biodynamic Wines
Standing in a large plastic container next to the grape crusher it looks like a sorcerer’s magic broom. Maybe it is. After all, the wine made here is considered biodynamic and some folks think of that as mystical or magical.

However, the sorcerer’s broom turns out to be a handle with pruned grape vines attached. During harvest time, it is used to create a vortex in the 25-gallon container.

The Sokol Blosser Tasting Room offers visitors a chance to explore the unique tastes of the vineyard’s creations.
The Sokol Blosser Tasting Room offers visitors a chance to explore the unique tastes of the vineyard’s creations.

This is one of the vineyard’s many experiments, explains owner Susan Sokol. From the pinot noir wines we have tasted, their other experiments have been fantastic, so maybe it’s a magic broom in its own way.

Biodynamic wines are those made using principles and practices based on spiritual and practical philosophy. In other words, it is part viticulture, or the science of growing grapevines, and part cosmic.

Keeping track of the alignment of the universe, crop nutrition, and disease management are all part of the ethical-spiritual practice of biodynamics. To some: magic. To others: good organic farming.

As we take a short tour of Sokol Blosser Winery in Dundee, Oregon, evidence of organic and biodynamic processes are all around us. Special houses enable a flock of bluebirds to take up residence. No need for insecticides here as the bluebirds zoom around to gobble up harmful insects.

A variety of fragrant herbs and colorful flowers entice other helpful birds and “good” insects to do their share in the organic, biodynamic process.  As a result, these estate vineyards have been certified by LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) and by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) as full organic.

Wandering though another fragrant flower and herb garden we approach a cave-like structure. This underground barrel cellar with its dark quiet interior has a special fragrance familiar to wine drinkers. As expected, temperature and humidity are controlled. Barrels stacked to the ceiling contain wines in various years of aging.  Simple grapes are developing over time into fine wines. Talk about magic.

The author and her husband enjoy wine tasting in pinot country.
The author and her husband enjoy wine tasting in pinot country.

Our next stop is Brick House Vineyards, another winery famous for its pinot noir wines and its biodynamic style of grape growing. Located in Newberg, Oregon, Brick House Vineyards has been following these practices since 1990.

Phases of the moon, maintaining self-sufficiency and natural remedies create stronger wines with more vibrant tastes, according to one Brick House employee.

2003 was a hot year, he tells us, not the best for pinot grapes. When leaves wilt and aren’t able to shield the tender grapes from the powerful sun, wines won’t age well.

The vineyard tried an old natural remedy to alleviate the problem. Chamomile tea was brewed and sprayed on vines and leaves. Apparently, the leaves did not wilt under the hot sun but stood up and covered grapes as they were supposed to. More magic?

Brick House doesn’t think so. To them it’s good biodynamic practice. By understanding ecology, energy, and age-old practices, many acres of grapes avoided withering under the blinding sun.

Neither of these wineries produces huge quantities of their wines. Instead, with quality vineyard practices and extensive handwork, low yields of intense flavor grapes make some mighty fine wines.

Is it good practice? You bet. Any time a farmer can become more self-sufficient it’s a good thing, says Sokol.

The vineyards use biodynamic methods, meaning the organic wines are created using practices based on spiritual and practical philosophy.
The vineyards use biodynamic methods, meaning the organic wines are created using practices based on spiritual and practical philosophy.

Is it good wine? Take a trip to pinot country in Oregon and taste for yourself. Your mouth will thank you.

If You Go

Sokol Blosser Vineyard and Winery

www.sokolblosser.com

Brick House Vineyards

www.brickhousewines.com

Biodynamic Wines

www.oregonbd.org

Wendy VanHatten left the corporate world to become a professional freelance travel writer and author. She is currently writing one book on women and success and another on positive travel experiences. She continues to write several times a week on her blog www.travelsandescapes.blogspot.com. 

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