(WBC Post 5) Biodynamic & mostly organic Quivera

Biodynamic & mostly organic: Quivira

Saturday morning I packed up and left my sweet zin suite at the Flamingo Hotel to jump on a shuttle with other attendees of the First Wine Bloggers Conference for a hike through the wine country…except I watched the shuttles head off into the morning without me.

Fortunately, I could jump on my cell and talk with organizer Allan Wright who sent me to Quivira, and since I had both a car and Quivira marketing director Nancy’s card, I was set with a quick call from her for directions. Off I went down the chill autumn, chasing after the van, and dodging bicycles on the back roads of Sonoma County’s Dry Valley Creek Road until I found myself pulling into the idyllic, picturesque barnyard setting of Quivira, chickens, solar panels, and all.

Farmer and winemaker Steve Canter was at work with the dozen or so bloggers, explaining biodynamics and homeopathy and everything else under the sun including cleansing and purification rituals he uses (go for the power of the earth, Steve!!).

And then we went for a lovely walk, visiting goats, and Ruby the pig, and picking grapes off the vines (my favs were the old zins of course), looping along unusually dry Wine Creek to Dry Valley Creek, both which eventually feed into the Russian River, then under a fig tree, and up a ridge planted in zin and down along the olive trees to the barn.

Steve and Nancy tag teamed a bit, telling stories about the vines, the wines, and the processes both of biodynamics and organics in practice here. Of particular interest to me was how they are healing Wine Creek by building weirs to slow down the water to create better habitat for steelhead and other native species practically wiped out by the previous channelization and control of the creek.

Approved Biodynamic wineries like Quivera can use this seal

Approved Biodynamic wineries like Quivera can use this seal

The idea behind biodynamics seems an obvious one: in order for a wine to reflect the land where it came from, it needs to be fed as much as possible by an integrated series of local, native, natural influences. That means Continue reading

(WBC Post 4) An Armload of New Zealand Pinot Noirs

Wine Blogger’s Conference: After Zin, Comes New Zealand Vin

Unfortunately, my sweet suite at the Wine Bloggers Conference at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa was going to charge me to get on line so I poured myself a glass of Mauritson’s Rockpile 2006 Zin (which I liked even better than the reserve–not as “fruity” but more cherry and better structure and balance and depth), grabbed my MacBook Pro and some crackers, and wandered back into the lobby which had quieted down significantly save for the music blasting “Brick House” from the bar. I used the code from my Wine Bloggers Conference Welcome packet and got right on.

I didn’t stay on for long, certainly not long enough to get a post written or an email sent, as I struck up a conversation with three gentlemen with some open wine bottles across the lobby, and quickly found myself on their couch with a sample of a New Zealand Pinot Noir in my glass–something completely different than the zins in the sweet suite or the Aussie shiraz I spent the summer drinking!

I found myself in the presence of David Strada, New Zealand wine guy, who had organized a wine tasting of New Zealand wines which went on while I was in the sweet zin sweet snacking on cheese and crackers. Next thing I knew, I was in the presence of a roomful of New Zealand wines, with permission to swoop up any that interested me–but I had to do it quick!

I didn’t even try to think–I just walked past all those tempting whites and headed for the pinot noirs–after sampling what was on the table in the lobby, I had to try more!

I grabbed pinot noirs by Wild Earth, Forrest Estate, and Wooleston, plus a syrah by…(oh, no I don’t remember now! Trinity Hill maybe?)

“Good choices!” said David. “We have a nice selection of wines on the table, a selection from the different wine growing regions of New Zealand–the Wild Earth from Otago, Forrest Estate from Marlborough, and Wooleston from Nelson. Did you know that? How did you choose them?”

“Well, I liked the label on the Wild Earth,” I admitted.

Award Winning Wild Earth Pinot Noir

Award Winning Wild Earth Pinot

“Yes, Americans do like that one,” he said with a smile. Continue reading

(WBC Post 3) Dry Creek Valley Zinfandels: the more the merrier!

Zinfandel Heaven

So there I was, in the Grand Ballroom of the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa at the Wine Bloggers Conference, surrounded by empty dinner plates, empty dessert bowls, empty wine glasses and empty wine bottles.

My stomach too was empty. But the hotel was full, full, full, as full as the bellies in the banquet room.

What’s a gal to do?

Get in a conversation with Leslie who reps the Dry Creek Valley wines, of course, and get invited back to their hospitality suite and load up on crackers, cheese, grapes, nuts, chocolate, and–most importantly for a budding wine blogger–lots and lots and lots of Dry Creek Valley ZINS!

“Bring a glass–we’re all out!” she urged.

I followed her through the swarms of wine bloggers, across the lobby, passed the bar with a funk and r&b band blaring, through the courtyard and around the pool toward a banner proclaiming “Dry Creek Valley Vineyards” or some such. Inside, two tables were laden with 2 dozen or more half full wines, and another table held the promised cheese and other munchies. Where to start first?

I set my bag with my laptop down and staring me in the face was a bottle of Mauritson 2005 Growers Reserve Zinfandel so I started there. Only 257 cases were produced of this 15.5 alc wine with plenty of fruit and zin attitude to stand up to the alcohol. Ahhh, finally, heaven, zinfandel heaven. And for a wine lover who cut her teeth on Ridge Zinfandel, it really was.

I felt positively schizophrenic, manic even, trying to decide what to do and doing everything at once: drink? eat? help them pack up? do all at the same time and stay out of the way?

It didn’t really matter though, with all those beautiful wines waiting…wines which unfortunately were getting packed up quicker than I drove up here. My day was just starting–but Leslie’s very busy day was about done!

“Here, take some,” she urged. “Taste them tonight at your leisure!”

I grabbed some bottles, more or less randomly since they all sounded great, and she threw in more: “Dutcher Creek, you have to have this. And you liked the Mauritson? You have to have this Rockpile. Oh and this Quivira, and this Red Rooster was poured at dinner, you missed that, and …”

Next thing I knew there were quite a few bottles and we were scrambling for a box to put them in, as well as packing up the food, and collecting information about all the wines and Dry Creek Valley’s various vineyards.

“Have you checked into your room?” asked Leslie as my pile of goods grew greater.

“No,” I admitted, “this was all so last minute I don’t have a reservation. I can go stay with my nephew in Berkeley if I don’t have much more to drink, or try to find some place close by.”

Next thing I knew, she was handing me a room key card!

Heaven–Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is your name!