Dancin’ In the Moonlight? Biodynamic Wines of the World #WinePW Invite and Bonterra Reds With Braised Beef

“You dance around naked in the moonlight — so I typically tell them yeah just come on out!” Bonterra’s Director of Vineyards Joseph Brinkley in It Starts With Wine discussing what many people think about biodynamics.

The new docu-series It Starts With Wine on Amazon Prime brings vintners and chefs from around the world into your home for an inside perspective on people and places behind the wines you drink — and the ones you’ll want to!

The first three episodes are out now–

  • Episode 1 features famed chef and restaurateur Francis Mallmann with a backdrop of Uruguay which #WinePW focused on in February,
  • Episode 2 features Argentina, our #WinePW focus for January,
  • Episode 3 of the series goes to Northern California’s Mendocino County to understand organic and Biodynamic® farming, featuring wines from Bonterra Organic Vineyards and Bonterra Director of Vineyards Joseph Brinkley– and biodynamic wines of the world is the prompt for April during Earth Month which I am hosting and you’re invited to join!

One of my resolutions for 2019 is to help YOU discover and understand biodynamic wine, and to encourage YOU to go beyond “sustainable” labels to learn more about biodynamic and organic practices — and I want to drink more organic and biodynamic wines myself!

So far this year,

So biodynamic — what does that mean? I’ve written quite a bit on this topic in the posts linked to above but I’ve got more to say and wines to share!

Here’s the definition according to the Biodynamic Association, 

Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition.

While conventional agriculture and winemaking uses whatever means necessary to get the desired results, in contrast organic grape growing prohibits the use of chemical and artificial herbicides while biodynamic grape growing and winemaking goes beyond organic to encourage a series of practices that improve the land — so that what is grown is even better at expressing a sense of place.

Further, biodynamic winemaking doesn’t allow the use of additives in wine making except for small amounts for fining, filtering and preservation; for example, instead of the 350 mg/ liter of sulfites allowed in conventional wine, in the US Demeter allows only 100 milligrams per liter.

Instead, the emphasis is on farming as explained by Elaine Chukan Brown:

Biodynamic farmers use a series of preparations which Monty Waldin outlines as:

“THE NINE BIODYNAMIC PREPARATIONS 500-508 are the essence of and are unique to the Biodynamic way for farming and wine-growing. Their regular application to the land is a pre-requisite for any vineyard or other agricultural enterprise to be considered Biodynamic by Demeter, the organization which has regulated Biodynamic farming since it was first described in 1924.” These are used in concert with celestial cycles.

“THREE BIODYNAMIC FIELD SPRAY PREPARATIONS 500, 501 & 508 are sprayed directly on the vineyard or farm individually and at different times during the season.”

“SIX BIODYNAMIC COMPOST PREPARATIONS 502-507 are added to the compost pile… The Biodynamic idea of composting waste generated by the farm/vineyard and returning it to the land is to maintain a terroir-enhancing self-sustaining living organism.

As Joseph Brinkley says about the preps in the first two minutes of the video,
“We see that bringing fertility but for the mainstream that sounds strange.” He explains that in biodynamics, “We believe that all fertility comes from the farm.”
One of the most important factors, says Brinkley, is the paradigm shift: “Or at least have the capacity to suspend disbelief. At least to try it.” Ready to take a paradigm shift and taste some of that biodynamic wine?
Here’s how to come join us dancing in the moonlight!
For more about Bonterra’s biodynamic The McNab 2014 (SRP $50) and The Butler 2014 (SRP $50), keep scrolling down. To join the #WinePW crew during Earth Month in April:
  • Find, research, and write about a biodynamic wine from anywhere in the world. Please try to find a wine that is certified by Demeter and has the Demeter logo on the label.
  • If you’re not sure if a wine is biodynamic or organic, check this resource curated by expert Monty Waldin.
  • Pair that wine with food; we love photos, stories, and recipes — even if it’s a disaster!
  • Send me your title with your URL and site name by noon Tues. April 9: email to gwendolyn alley AT yahoo DOT com, comment below, or post the title with a link to your site under the invite post in the group Facebook page.
  • Tell us the story of your biodynamic wine and food pairing! Publish your biodynamic wine post anime Friday April 12 or before 8am Saturday April 13.
  • Join the twitter chat from 8-9am Pacific using the hashtag #WinePW.
  • Watch for the dozen or so questions or topics to discuss that I’ll develop and post.
  • We love to be social! Please comment on and share participating posts.


To get you going, I hope you’ll keep reading to learn more about the biodynamic wines from Bonterra we tasted and I encourage you to check out Bonterra’s video yourself. “It Starts with Wine: California” begins with an explanation of biodynamics for about the first five minutes with beautiful footage of Northern California. It provides details about Sonoma’s start as a wine area in the late 1800’s then again in the 1970’s and explains the wide variety of micro-climates in Mendocino wine county from Sonoma through the Anderson Valley to Mendocino. Also important is cooking using simple ingredients which is backed with great recipes on the Bonterra website.

After starting out strong with a discussion of biodynamics, it does veer away from the topic of biodynamics, note Sue: “It took a long time to get to what my interest is.” Sue wanted to learn more about biodynamic farming and why is it so important. While biodynamics is covered again in the final 10 minutes, it went by so quickly Sue needed to rewind several times for the concepts to sink in. “In the end it costs an Amazon Prime Non-member $1.99 per episode to watch a commercial on “Come to Sonoma County” or, “Taste Bonterra Wine”,” Sue said, and she wondered whether it’s worth it. However, most people I know have Amazon Prime, and when I went to watch it with friends while on a ski trip at Mammoth, and the viewing was interrupted, they planned to watch it later at home because what we saw was so beautifully filmed and intriguing.

While Sue watched the film before we made our dinner and I watched it after, it would make for a great evening to enjoy the wines with recipes from the website then watch the show. Because what’s better than dinner and a movie? A dinner featuring the wines in the movie!

To do so, Bonterra Organic Vineyards sent me a viewing care package with a blanket, popcorn, chocolate covered raisons, two Go Vino glasses and a bottle each of their biodynamically farmed The McNab 2014 (SRP $50) and The Butler 2014 (SRP $50).


For our meal, we went to the Bonterra website where there is a great number of recipes to choose from; most utilize easy to access ingredients and fresh foods. There are also pairing suggestions depending on what wines you are choosing to pair with your wines.

Bonterra website inspired menu
  • Cheese plate:
    Stilton, aged gouda, pate, salami, oven roasted spiced nuts, basque cheese
  • roasted BLT with blue cheese salad
  • harvest squash soup
  • braised beef and polenta
  • Almond chocolate bark
  • Cabernet hot cocoa
  • The McNab 2014 (SRP $50)
  • The Butler 2014 (SRP $50)


2014 – The Butler – Butler Ranch Vineyard Cuvee – Mendocino County – 14.8% alcohol $50
Rhone style wine
sample provided for my review consideration

Color:   rich ruby with a rosey ring

Nose: nice florals, spicy carnation, blue fruit, rosemary, and lavender, forest floor and violets

Palate:  palate – dry herbs (fennel licorice, sage)dried cocoa, silty, dirt, on the finish, subtle tannins

Pairing:  this wine was so fabulous with our provincial tapenade, the herbs to provence in the tapenade with the lemon and anchovies, wow! It was just ok with the salami, but was a beautiful pairing with the pate. The grilled BLT salad marry nicely with the wine, it likes the sweetness that grilling bring out in the romaine, and the char on the vegetable in this salad. It loves the salty, smoke in the ham. It nicely reveals those characteristics in the wine.

With the Autumn squash soup, it was fantastic, it liked the sweetness of the squash which danced on the front of the palate, it also brought out the lovely herbal qualities in the wine and the soup. There was also something about the texture of the soup which made the wine feel like velvet rolling across the tongue, there was a nice silty minerality when enjoying it with the wine. The soup on its own was super sweet, but when paired with the wine it wasn’t like that at all. It balances out the sweetness of the butternut squash in the soup. With the braised beef and polenta. The pepper that was seared into the meat from the onset of this dish really brings out a nice spicy peppery quality in the wine. The herbs in the dish are also quite complimentary to the herbs in the wine.

2014 – The McNab – McNab Ranch Vineyard Cuvee – Mendocino County – 14.6% alcohol (SRP $50)
sample provided for my review consideration

Color: deep and dense, maroon with a scarlett rim

Nose: herbs, mint, lavender, rosemary, herbs de provence, the herbs are most prevalent, there is a bit of fruit, cherry or raspberry

Palate: clean minerals, herbs, sage, mid palate there is tart fresh fruit (cherry) with cocoa powder on the finish

Pairing:  really great with our toasted nuts, it loved the deep toast of the nuts and the wonderful baking spices and garam masala that they were tossed with. Gwen thought of mole, beef or chicken tacos with mole.

About the grilled BLT salad, Sue stated, “It works, it works, it works!”
You could even throw in some grilled portobello mushroom if you wanted to have the salad as the main course. We also felt that the tomatoes would have been so much better if roasted as well. Next time we will put them on  the grill and roast them right along side the romaine. The wine was so, so good with the grilled romaine, salty ham, and grilled cheese. We never make grilled romaine salads because it has never been our thing, however we may have changed our mind, it rises to a whole new level when paired with the wines. Sue no longer thought of it as wilty cooked lettuce, but a wonderful dish that beautifully enhanced the wines. Will it show up regularly on the menu? Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly worked here. The soup was a bit sweet for the wine and needed a bit of salt and meatiness to make it shine, so sautéed bacon or prosciutto over the top would make this a nice accompaniment to the salad and wine, but it is not the star of the show. As expected, it was lovely with the braised beef. It brought out a very lovely complexity in the wine. The thyme and the sage in the recipe match the notes in the wine.

We were skeptical about the hot cocoa. Who would have thought that adding cabernet to your hot cocoa would be a thing, but it is!!!! It was wonderful and went well with the almond bark because of the salt combined with the chocolate.

“I am usually more inclined to continue drinking my wine with just a bite or two of sweets to either compliment the wine or fulfill my sweet tooth,” says Sue, “but the hot cocoa with the savory slightly sweet brittle is perfect to end any meal.”

It could get you dancing in the moonlight!

6 thoughts on “Dancin’ In the Moonlight? Biodynamic Wines of the World #WinePW Invite and Bonterra Reds With Braised Beef

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