Monday, January 31, 2005

A Bennett Valley vineyard experiment

Mary and Wells Wagner were some of the first people I encountered in Sonoma County experimenting with biodynamics. That was 6 or so years ago, and at that time they were giving the system “a good college try”. While I’d heard at the time that Wells had expressed some doubts about the systems requirements, he’d committed to following it to a “T”, and hold off on judgment until he saw the results.

I’ve included an
article here about the attempt back in ’99 to go biodynamic at their vineyard.

Also included is their more recent
grower profile from the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association.
There are two items of note in this profile. First, that when asked to describe his philosophy he responds -
“To farm as "light" as possible (reduce pesticide use) and maintain a high quality crop. My goal is to leave the land in better shape than it was when I bought it.” (notice that he didn’t say Biodynamic…gee I wonder why?...)
Second is his response to “What was your worst horror story in grape growing?”…”Trying to change to biodynamic farming in 1 year and the vineyard had more mildew than I had ever experienced before.” Nice…what other hidden benefits await?
(Steiner would – according to Joly – ask “why is the fungi up out of the earth? That is it’s normal area of influence. Something must be out of balance to bring the fungi upwards. There is too much ‘solar’ influence, we must rebalance with the opposing ‘earth’ force…”)

Perhaps most of the conflict when talking about BioD arises from that distinction: to farm lightly with little if any pesticide use is commonly referred to as BioD, when in reality biodynamics is much different. I would think that most people are enamored by the ideal of farming lightly, but wonder what they’d think if they ever read Steiner or Joly? This is all too confusing with many different philosophies trying to use the same descriptor…

So, I’ll propose a new term: “Hera-tic”. A Hera-tic would be someone who finds BioD agricultural practices relating to phases of Jupiters’ moons (as an example) to be laughable, while still espousing a system of organic farming without dependence on chemicals (in fact trying to minimize/eliminate those chemicals altogether).
I’ve chosen the name, other than for the ironic homonymic relation to heretic, due to the fact that Hera (as wife of Zeus) outranks Demeter (chosen as the name of the biodynamic accreditation organization).
When questioned in the future by BioD fanatics “Do you practice biodynamics?”, the person can proudly reply “Why no, I’m a Hera-tic”.


Friday, January 28, 2005

TCA fouls 1 in 12 bottles of wine “down under”?!

[Article Link]

On a slightly related note, I had a beautiful 2000 Chateau Montelena Napa Cab last night.
Medium levels of ripe stone fruits, with nice body & length. Tannins could use a little more time & bottle bouquet was not as developed as could be – yet!
I plan on leaving my other 2 bottles down until 2007~8.
Happily, I can report that there was no TCA taint in it…
I’m looking forward to finishing it tonight with Mrs.Johnson.

Perhaps I'll use the two of them in 2008 to toast our surpassing France in wine deliciously ironic that would be!

US to surpass France in wine Consumption?

2008 is the year predicted by the report - commissioned by the French, ironically - which also states that the US's leading supplier for that new market will be the US (California) wine industry.
Bad news when you're exports to the country which is to lead the world's consumption are already experiencing serious problems.

On France's wine troubles (both domestic and foreign) the following is observed:

"But the trend of falling consumption has been evident in France for decades, partly because people are increasingly careful about their health and tend to drink smaller quantities of wine of improved quality."

Ouch! - as that implies that what's left over is of...uhm, "less improved quality"...
Article Link]

Thursday, January 27, 2005

News from the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium (Sacramento)

The most telling quote here is ~

"Last year I said that we could see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Nat DiBuduo of Allied Grape Growers of California. "This year, the Central Valley is out of the tunnel and the coastal and North Coast regions can see the light."

[Article link]

Why do I find that interesting? Because the California’s Central Valley’s wine grapes are the major source for the ultra-bargain wines like Two-Buck-Chuck. The North and Central Coast lags are primarily due to their higher product prices, even though they have the better quality.

Also of note:
The consolidations, however, benefit the wine industry as a whole because as those megacompanies fight it out, they spend on advertising, keep wine prices low and raise the profile of wine in general, said Jon Fredrikson, president of Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, a wine consulting company in Woodside.

"It is a global fight, and the consumer ultimately benefits. It raises the bar. It is a dream market for all consumers," Fredrikson said. "We have a selection of wines today that is unprecedented and made much better than 10 years ago."

Fredrikson also said California wine exports are at a record level, with 39 million cases exported last year.

Those record export numbers are driven by the glut of wine here in California, and the fact that the dollar is currently weak, making our wines more affordable overseas. With an economic recovery in the wings, the potential for a stronger dollar looms, and we'll have to wait & see if the wine industry will continue to try to push more product into the openings they've gained overseas. To remain at the same sales level wineries will have to be content with their current pricing (hold the foreign currency price stable), and still be satisfied even though their margin will fall slightly.

I suppose though we should be happy it's a bigger foot in the door than we've had in recent years...

More good economic news!

More good economic news!

Article link]
"For the first time since 2001, Sonoma County will see positive job growth in 2005," according to Steve Cochrane of, the company conducting the annual survey for the county Economic Development Board.

The report, delivered to hundreds of county officials and business leaders Wednesday, cited voter approval of a transportation sales tax as a key reason for optimism.
Cochrane said Sonoma County "has the potential to once again modestly outperform the U.S. economy by 2007" if current trends continue.
The county's manufacturing industry has yet to show any growth, but at least the pace of layoffs and cutbacks slowed during 2004, the report said.

Cochrane's economic review forecast an addition of 3,500 new positions this year. That is considerably less than the increase of 9,000 new jobs that a report from Sonoma State University's Center for Regional Economic Analysis released earlier this week.
Cochrane said economists may quibble over forecast details, such as the predicted number of jobs. But he said "the bottom line is that the recovery is finally becoming apparent."

Though not as rosy as the recent report from CSU Sonoma (aka Sonoma State U.), it does still reinforce the notion that things are on the rebound.
What remains to be seen is whether consumers will hold off on higher priced wines now that they’ve had a taste of less expensive blends.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

'Businessman' perspective?

Tuco, thanks for your kind words.

Bonny Doon has been quietly moving into the biodynamic (BioD) realm for several years. Apparently they’re now ready to go “whole hog” into that dark realm…

(Bonny Doon's statement)

I’ve enjoyed their wines in the past, and imagine I will continue to like them – provided they don’t radically spiral downward in quality, or start releasing Brett contaminated wines.
Bonny Doon has made it’s mark by being different, both in the wine blends they offer and in their fun loving philosophy. Not because it’s BioD.
I predict that we as consumers won’t experience any positive changes from their use of “horn manure” or “horn quartz”, because it’s based on superstition, flawed logic and bad science.

Caveman…I think you’ve missed a few posts!
Look at these:
Santeria, BioD email, Jphelps BioD-like

…this is a big kettle of fish. Aside from the spiritual flakiness that I agree is a part of the whole biodynamic philosophy, the practical manifestations of this type of agricultural practice is at it's base organic.

Exactly the point I’ve made in my previous posts.

And if large producers use less pesticides, fungicides, chemical soil additives, and sulfites then that is a good thing for everybody.We can argue wether or not it makes better wine, but it does make interesting wine.
Again, all points I’ve made previously. And I won’t argue that the wines aren’t interesting, and my previous posts on BioD make my favor of environmentally responsible sustainable organic farming quite obvious.

You are obviously first and foremost taking a 'businessman' perspective on the wine industry, an underlying current of this movement is about community and respect. Normal people buying and thus supporting local growers, restaurants using local ingredients and creating regional cooking traditions, but above all, a respect for the environment as a whole.
One doesn’t need some voodoo system to have respect for the community, or to adopt responsible agricultural practices. And I have never found it useful or logical for anyone to separate their business perspective from their community or environmental perspectives (myself included).

However, I will point out how stupid it would be to allocate funds in one’s business plan for some system so riddled with holes, that it couldn’t possibly influence your final product. The whole idea of burying powdered quartz in a cow’s horn for 6 months – then spraying it onto the leaves of your vines to “capture more solar energy”…
Do you know why? Joly reveals it in his book!
Because quartz “sparkles” and therefore – get this! – must contain sunlight within the crystal!
They ignore the fact that crystals reflect light for that ‘sparkle’ effect, and by spreading it on top of their foliage they’re potentially reducing the amount of solar radiation the vine’s are actually exposed to. Pretty crappy thinking from my point of view.

In fact, I’d argue that it’s just as bad as some of the science the Bush administration tries to use to justify it’s environmental policies with.
Really, you don’t have to embrace BioD to eschew the use of pesticides and have a more encompassing view of your winemaking techniques & it’s interplay with the community and environment.

This is a concept which the american government has effectively pissed upon (as being one of the few governments to outrightly refuse Kyoto, and rolling back important safeguards). Their view seems to be..'well it is not great for me so fuck the rest of you.'A fantastic role model for all. While Joly can be a bit of a flake and there are obvious holes in the biodynamic philosophy, if it's followers become a little more respectful and a little nicer, hell, why not, they've harmed a lot less people than those waiving the banner of Jesus. Caveman
I agree with your thoughts about George W.’s lack of leadership on environmental issues.
I have no need to bring religion into this. There are some who would argue that it’s essentially “new age secularism”, but I don’t need any such arguments to defeat BioD.

And “if it’s followers become a little more respectful and a little nicer” ? I must assume this is in regard to their relationship with the environment – because I’ve had some quite heated arguments with it’s adherents…and they were neither respectful nor nice from my perspective…

In summary, I believe that agri-business (viticulture & winemaking included) should be conducted with respect to the environment by adopting the following:

  • Organic farming techniques
  • Embracing environmentally responsible, sustainable agricultural practices
  • Integrated pest management, utilize natural pest predators
  • Minimize the use of pesticides & herbicides with the long-term goal of their elimination
  • Respect for the environment and community (including neighbors) of the operations in question

The Emperor has no clothes on. I hope this helps clear up my views.


Sonoma County economy "trending upward"

Sonoma County may see some economic increases in 2005, or so says a new study out from Sonoma State University, the Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Ca) reports .
(article link)

"SSU's current forecast concludes employment by the end of the year could return to its highest level since 2001. At 4.8 percent growth, or about 9,000 new jobs, it would be the strongest growth since 1997, when the number of new jobs created soared 8,300, or 5.1 percent. The forecast uses such data as help wanted ads, income growth and defaults to reach its conclusions.
"It looks like '05 is going to be better than '04, but it could be a year or two before the county's economic growth begins to surpass the U.S.," Cochrane said.Outpacing the nation "is a position that Sonoma County got very used to being in," he said, "so it becomes quite obvious when it trails behind."

With that being said, and an estimated 4~6 month lag time for the wine industry to realize it's effect, the begining of 2006 could see a bit stronger wine industry in Sonoma County.

I would predict that Napa Valley would see the benefits of a stronger economy slightly earlier, as more consumers recognize that area.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Have health spa's gone 'biodynamic'?

So, do you want to get that Tarot reading, but really need use the time to get a massage?
Want to stay in touch with your 1-900-PSYCHIC, but are afraid the mud bath treatment will foul your cell phone?

No need to worry – just relax, and have it all done at the same time!
[CNN travel article]

What’s great about this is that the spa’s are really looking for marketing…
And that’s what the authors point out that –

It's also another way for spas to make money and attract guests in a competitive market. The International Spa Association, the biggest spa industry group, says that between 1995 and 2004, the number of U.S. spas more than quadrupled, to 12,100. But the most recent figure for the number of visits to spas, 136 million, is actually down slightly from 2001.

Also of interest is the statement from one of the practitioners that they don’t really give a ‘reading’, but rather listen to the client, and then dispense advice about how to resolve their issues.

(It'd be a better deal if they had "Oenophile massages" where you could couple aromatherapy of wine aromas wafting through the studio, a good deep shoulder, neck & back rub, while you sip relaxingly on a glass of your favorite wine...that'd be worth something! And all your troubles would "magically" disappear...)

Just like Wineries looking to differentiate themselves in a global sea of wine, by using the ‘biodynamic’ descriptor for their vineyard practices & wines. And as for those who've set themselves up as providers of biodynamic goods and accredation - Good for you! If there are people dumb enough to think it works or even that they need you, then they deserve to be fleeced! (I think I'll make one more post on biodynamics after I read Joly's book Wine: from sky to earth, when I can give a book review. It should be like shooting fish in a barrel, if it's anything as disjointed as his website for Coulee de Serrant.)

Anyway – let me save you some dough – open a nice bottle of wine & use the virtual voodoo doll on the following link to solve all your problems! [
instant voodoo]

OR better yet! Use the
Chocolate Voodoo Doll! Think of how much better you’ll feel after you’ve bitten the head off your problems! Maybe it’ll go well with some fava beans and a nice Chianti…?

Chocolate Voodoo

Either way, get a glass of your favorite wine. It’s the only real guarantee of relaxation you have…
…it’s a much better gamble than a “Soul Regression Tour”. Probably alot cheaper, too.

Again people, it's all about marketing. Just trying to get market share.


Monday, January 24, 2005


First, let me say (again for those who have difficulty discerning the forest from the trees) that there are quite of few wineries (mostly medium and small), that are doing a great job of making the image of their wines fun and appealing. That is, marketing their wine as a beverage or at the least marketing wine in a fun package or an entertaining way. Boony Doon, comes to mind as a stand out. Even George DuBeouf (indeed, a French company!) has created a great multicolor package on some of their bottles, and their yearly Beaujolais Nouveau parties are always a hoot. There are more examples but they are all created by individual winery efforts, not by an industry-wide campaign.

Second, this is a thumbnail sketch of the idea, the proposal itself is quite detailed.

Now then, what I am talking about here is an effort by the wine industry or a wine industry group to more EFFECTIVELY market wine here in the U.S, as measured by increased wine sales. Sell more wine by getting new customers, an amazing concept.

The idea, in its general application, has been done with dozens (hell, practically every one that is advertised) of other beverages, and with great success. There is nothing to indicate that it will not work with wine. The concept is simple, a touring road show to display and hype a new product. Wine isn’t a new product but we are marketing a NEW image for the product of wine. And not the high end or cult wines, they can be off in their own wonderland.

The SOLUTION: The Wine Bus (eventually two buses). A customized motor coach that will travel the country, sponsoring events, creating a presence at specific events, rolling out product and packaging experiments, surveying wine drinkers and potential wine drinkers. Essentially, The Wine Bus would be a mobile marketing machine, a laboratory for new product marketing and packaging testing, an engine for the change of the image of wine in the US. Ok, that’s a little much but the point is the same.

The GOAL: to use The Wine Bus as a touring marketing campaign to increase the exposure of wine to specifically targeted demographics in specifically targeted areas. The Wine Bus would tour key metropolitan areas. The industry has a pile of research information available on which areas and events have high potential for ‘new’ 'marginal' and ‘infrequent' wine drinkers.

**Now here is where you people who couldn’t market water to a thirsty person are scratching your heads going, “Now what could that do?”. Ok, try to follow along, its called marketing, keep reading.**

The Wine Bus would be a custom motor coach (like the ones decked out to take rock stars or John Madden around). Of course, it would be brightly painted with ‘The Wine Bus’ across the sides, a web site address and an 800 number with the ‘The Wine Bus’ city schedule and the events. The website supporting The Wine Bus tour would be fun and informative, and a critical part of the total campaign.

The Wine Bus would sponsor and or participate in a variety of specifically targeted events (no NASCAR or WWE). All the traditional media resources would be used to promote the tour. Radio spots, TV coverage “The Wine Bus has arrived in _____ and KWNE is here to talk to”. Present a clear message “The Wine Bus travels around showing the simple pleasures of drinking wine” - repeat it often to the media. One of the first stops of The Wine Bus would be in front of the various morning show street facing studios in Manhattan. The Wine Bus would not mention or promote cult or high ticket wines, most likely the crew of The Wine Bus would make fun of those wines.

And if you read this space, you know we won't be offering Wine Bus logo Riedel glasses. No, we'll give people plastic party cups. You know, the kind you used to have for keg parties. We're not after the sniff, swirl, spit, crowd anyway...

The crew of the bus would have to be versatile. The crew would have to be both pulchritudinous and capable. These people would have to plan and run projects, accumulate data on reactions to featured products, packaging experiments, presentations, sales pitches (it sounds like a season of "The Apprentice"). Keep the crew and support crews for each of the Buses lean and relatively autonomous. The campaign would have to liaison with wine distributors (at least the distributors of whatever wineries backed the project), in order to follow through on the exposure and track results.

We would also attempt to pitch the idea of having a TV series about picking one of the crews of The Wine Bus, to the Food TV Network or Travel and Leisure channel, etc. Great Fun could be had with that. Of course, I would include the use of ‘The Wine Wenches”TM, at certain events. The Wine Wenches would be the equivalent of ‘The Yaeger Girls’, Swedish Bikini Team, etc, but a tad more sophisticated, with a minty freshness that no one can resist. The Wine Wenches would work the wine taps (yes, wine taps, built right into the bus, serving non branded varietal wines) Of course it would have to be a national search to find the Wine Wenches, but that would be part of the total Wine Bus campaign. The Wine Wenches would not be used at every event.

Avoid gratuitous prurience, but leverage the sophisticated gimmickery.

Who would pay for the bus: Good question. First, remember this is a results oriented project, the goal is to increase wine sales. A key component of the program would be to track wine sales after The Wine Bus has come through a particular area. It would be the best advertising money the wine industry, collectively, has ever spent. Some of the big conglomerates could probably pay outright, but maybe a consortium (like the Wine Marketing Council but actually effective and interested in verifiable results - See 'Marketing to Millenials') could be put together to fund the project.

For the money the Wine Marketing Council has spent over the last few years on those cute posters you see in Food & Wine magazine (which I defy anyone to attribute an increase of wine sales) two nicely appointed and crewed custom motor coaches could be put on the road. For a tenth of what has been thrown away supporting Copia (what a freakin waste of money, put a wine/food appreciation center in Napa, just BRILLIANT). For a portion of what Robert Mondavi spent on that stellar TV campaign “Woodbridge: Wood, like, a wine barrel, and bridge, like, well, a bridge”.

Give me two Wine Buses, as the centerpieces of the campaign, and two years and I will demonstrably increase wine consumption and the image of wine in the US for males and females below the age of 44. The devil is in the details they say, and I have plenty of details.

Wake up wine industry; join in the modern marketing of beverages. Go run through the vineyard with a lyre singing the praises of wines glorious history. Knock yourself out, what you have been doing has been really effectively thus far. The Wine Bus. . . . . .its time has come.

I’m available to pitch this to whatever group will listen, or at least sit still.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Marketing to Millenials?

As a preface to my post on improving wine marketing, I wanted to express my skepticism of the Wine Market Council's (WMC) claim that millenials are consuming more wine. WMC is the industry group whose goal is to increase the responsible consumption and acceptance of wine (Much like the Milk advisory board who created the "Got Milk?" campaign - one of the most recognized and oft-imitated campaigns in history (sadly, WMC campaigns have not been nearly so successful)). I have been critical of the WMC's work before and I am baffled as to how their current campaign can possibly be linked to increased acceptance of wine among millenials.

Take, for example, a recent study by Wine Vision that they (Wine Vision) say validates the increased consumption among millenials. Okay, fine, but keep reading. See where the wine-consuming millenials describe wine as "elitist" "dull" "snooty", etc. "Hip" was the lowest-ranking descriptor!!! Are these the consumers that will be doubled US per capita wine consumption?!? (which would just barely get us equal to the UK and Australia!!!). It almost seems that they are drinking wine in spite of its image and in spite of the industry-supportive advertising (which they may well be - marketing to GenX and Millenials can often work backwards).

If we do indeed have the current attention of the millenials (and I remain unconvinced that its not just a temporary 'blip') then they above attitudes reinforce my belief that we need to change they way wine is perceived (particularly under $10) before we lose the attention of this huge demographic.

Check out the Sofia Mini website and the [yellow tail] website to see how these brands are succesfully pulling in this key demographic ([yt] even has a blog). [yt] and Sofia Mini are advertising in magazines in the millenial demographic. The WMC campagin is in Better Homes & Gardens, Sunset and Wine Spectator. Compare the approaches and I think its clear the WMC is missing the Millenial boat....

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Does Gallo read Huge?

"We've made French wine approachable, not some château you can't pronounce," says Gallo proudly.[article link]
BINGO! Gallo 'gets' it...

Huge J's WOW scooped Gallo by predicting that American consumers (well, the World's consumers actually) were tired of attempting to decipher French wine labels, and memorizing which micro-producer was making what. (In my post [
Chateau "X"] I stated what has become increasingly obvious to all but the French wine industry...and it's embodied in that lead quote from Gallo). Perhaps Joe got it from my post...?

Hopefully, Gallo’s ‘takeover’ of the French wine industry will also include a Brettanomyces eradication program. One can only pray...

The French are notoriously defensive about their wine industry. We'll have to see if Gallo is more sucessful than Mondavi was in trying to get into France (even that venerable company was rebuked, and abandoned it's plans for an operation in France when the villagers started getting out the pitchforks, tar and torches).

By the way, Gallo is not the only company with production operations on several continents; K-J already has operations in Chile, Argentina, France, Italy, and Australia. Mondavi, even without its 'own' project in France was still in partnership with the Rothschilds, as well as a partner in operations in both Italy and Australia. Fetzer has partnerships in Chile for at least some of its' Chardonnay products. Vincor (in Canada) has holdings in South Africa, California, Washington, Australia and Chile. Diageo has brands from Argentina and France in addition to Washington & CA. Allied Domecq has US, France, Spain, NZ, and Argentina and has tried in vain to buy successfully in Australia. Beringer has Australia, US, NZ, France, Italy & Chile. Pernod Ricard has wines from France, Italy, Spain, Australia & Argentina.

Gallo's got something BIG in store for France...keep watching.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Don't Make Wines for High Scores?!?

Am I the only person puzzled by Jim Laube's recent editorial? (I'd post a link, but the Wine Speculator now charges you for just thinking about their magazine). He says that winemakers shouldn't focus on scores, despite the fact that "great ratings help sell wine. But there's so much more involved in achieving long-term success in the wine business than a mere rating. A high score is worthless unless the winery has an effective business plan, and a business plan is an empty shell if there's not some core conviction about wine character behind it.

Wineries that try to make wines to please a critic's palate, or even to please the consumer's palate, are aiming at a moving target. Wine lovers' tastes--and their ability to finance those tastes--can change rapidly, with little or no warning.
Of course, 90-point wines sell. But I feel sorry for winemakers who focus on the scores. Because there are one-hit wonders in wine, just as in pop music, and sometimes 90 just isn't enough."

Wait a minute... what if my business plan calls for strong sales (don't they all)? Should I not make a wine that attempts to score well? Should I claim that I'm keeping my artisitic integrity intact by making obscure varietals using dated methods for a "rustic" or "authentic" blend? Isn't good business driven by strong sales, whereas artistic expression should be independent of economic motivation? Why not go for better scores then!?!?

As I've said before, if you're going into business to make money, you should consider creating and marketing your products so they sell best. For example, a "shelf talker" that lists a score better than '90' will move bottles like no other method, sad but true. Wines that score poorly end up in the bargain bin (integrity intact, I suppose) thought I question whether the average wine consumer could distinguish the former high scorer from the latter in the bargain bin.

While he may not like it, Mr. Laube, as one of the critics assigning thousands of scores annually, is an integeral part of this process.....


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Another nail in the coffin of 'traditional' packaging...

Ok, there's been much ado about different types of bottle closures.

The arguments from sales personnel and their attendant focus groups generally runs along the lines of "people want a real cork", or "synthetic corks give a cheap look to the package" among others...

But according to some research at Oregon State U., consumers can't taste the difference between those different closures.

Winemakers argue about the advantages of natural corks versus synthetic corks or metal screwtops, but the average wine drinker can't tell any difference in product quality, according to Oregon State University researchers.

In a blind taste test conducted by OSU's Food Innovation Center in Portland, wine drinkers could not tell the difference in the taste of the same wine bottled with a natural, synthetic or a metal closure.

A companion study found that many consumers associate metal screwtops with inferior wine, and some people have reservations about synthetic corks. Consumers in the OSU study were willing to pay a higher price for wine topped with a natural cork.

While there's still much to do in the areas of researching the effects of different closures on long term aging, as well as educating the masses about the various types of closures (& their relative advatages/disadvantages), it would seem that the primary argument from the winemakers against using alternative closures ("it'll change the product's flavors") is being laid to rest.
At least for wines that're consumed fairly quickly after bottling or release - and that's the majority of wine produced in this country (~95%+).

(I'll add that I've participated in some tastings of this nature, and while I can attest to the fact that trained individuals can detect the differences in these packages, they are far too subtle for everyday consumers to ever have to worry about.)

Monday, January 17, 2005

A good gift for 'biodynamicists' on your list this year...

Another item for those biodynamic types on your gift lists…

Aging Accelerator

Shooter Buddy & the Vintage Express aging accelerators! High guass (high magnetic strength) neodymium magnets that expose the drink placed into it to an elctromagnetic field thousands of times stronger than the Earth's!
(It's a ludicrous product, especially @ $49.95 for the Vintage Express, and $29.95 for the Shooter Buddy. The only saving grace is that they have a few hotties on their site's main banner.)

Aligning all the molecules within the beverage..? I’m not sure how that’s supposed to age your beverage 10 years. But think of all the money you’ll save now that you don’t have to buy that second-hand hypermagnetic chamber at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch yard sale next month…
It’ll also save you from having to store your wine next to your local radiologist’s NMR.

It’s just too bad that the alignment’s ruined as soon as you remove the drink from the vicinity of the magnets.
Don’t even THINK about swirling!

And Good Lord, Almighty! PLEASE don’t drop one in the hot tub! Everyone inside will go from “Brad Pitt” to “George Burns” in 15 seconds flat! (Women readers may substitute “Angelina Jolie” to “Phyllis Diller” for the equivalent effect.)

I’m sure they could even find some of those old pyramid hats from the 70’s to keep their brains young (check
ebay, after all they do seem to have everything else on earth listed!).

Power of the pyramids - Shagadelic, baby!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Someone Obviously Didn't Read Through the Archives

Got an email from a reader, excerpted as follows:

"...was wondering if you could tell me if you recommend Riedel or Spiegelau glasses and how many of the varietal types I should consider gettting?


Well I got a chuckle out of that! I'd suggest you read through my archives for "
Riedel & Illogic..." and "Riedel's Greatest Trick...". Those two posts should clarify how I feel about the whole varietal specific wineglass issue.

Futhermore, I recently attended a formal tasting at
vinquiry, where they work as consultants to improve wineries' wines. Of all places, you'd think they would want to get the most out of each glass. What did they use? Small generic glasses. Non-leaded and fairly thick-lipped. Did that impact the wines being tasted? The combined 150+ years of experience in the tasting didn't seem to mind.....

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Sagrantino di Montefalco

Oddio! (Italian for “Dear God!”)
Here’s a story of protectionism in Italy, and it’s kind of ugly…

The town of Montefalco in Italy has some producers of what has – until now – been a local grape, Sagrantino. (BTW, Montefalco is NE of Orvieto, south of Assisi…if you’re trying to find it on a map of Italy – I’m not sure if it suffers the same parking nightmares that Orvieto suffers, but don’t be expecting to find a spot on any given weekend unless you get up with the proverbial ‘gallo nero’…)
One of the main producers of that varietal, Marco Caprai, is lodging formal complaints with the government regarding the plan of some Tuscan vintners to plant Sagrantino in Tuscany.

He's attracted considerable support among fellow Umbrians, among them Maurizio Ronconi, agriculture commissioner of the Italian Senate, who calls the planting of Sagrantino in Tuscany "a grave act of piracy."

But people knowledgeable about such matters say the Italian government is unlikely to stop anyone in Tuscany from planting Sagrantino there.

Caprai says he hopes to meet with government officials soon to try to persuade them to do just that, though.
"The richness of Italian wine lies in its native vines," he says. "A Sagrantino made in Tuscany, in a different climate, with different soil, lacking in the polyphenols that are unique to Montefalco and that give our wine its color and its tannins, would be a very different wine."

If it’s true that "The richness of Italian wine lies in its native vines," then the Italians should still be farming the Bituric, Helvolans, Arcelacans, and other vines of the Romans, shouldn’t they? (Did you notice he isn't quoted as saying that the Tuscan Sagrantino would be a crappy wine, just 'different'...? What's wrong with that - unless he's afraid it'll dilute his market and possibly raise the bar for his own performance!)

Sadly, the argument that planting Sagrantino in other locales will undermine the 'true place' that it holds as a local product is the one (and apparently only) argument they're pushing - the hypocrisy shows through so readily.

Yes hypocrisy, because even though Montefalco is the traditional area where that grape’s grown… they also cultivate AND produce wines from Sangiovese and Trebbiano Toscano there as well, both grapes that are forever associated with the Chianti region of Tuscany. If they are so worried about moving one cultivar to another location then they never should’ve “pirated” Tuscan grapes to start with.

My advice to Sr. Caprai : Get ready for some competition - it will do you good, and it sounds like it’s long overdue.

Ciao Signore …

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I was close, but no cigar

When I guessed what would happen next, I had the right companies (Southcorp and Foster's Beringer) but I guessed that one of them would be bought out, not that they would merge. Apparently, Foster's has taken a position in Southcorp and "wants to talk". . . . . . .

Joseph Phelps Vineyards: biodynamic-like

Interesting & timely article @ about Joseph Phelps Vineyards, and their “biodynamic-like” viticulture.

See? This is what I’m talking about – marketing! - you get your name in the paper and an article where you get to differentiate yourself from other producers, merely by using the word “biodynamic” to describe your operations.

The beauty of the Phelps article is that they want “to build healthier soil” rather than “to gain formal biodynamic certification.” Brilliant isn’t it? Use the BUZZWORD to get the attention of the media (& the masses) to tell your story, then stop short of paying out any money to third party groups for some certification, which essentially is just voodoo anyway…
But I just love the logic (or lack thereof) that’s applied. Take this quote from the article:
Williams pointed out that farming organically, which in itself isn't a simple task for wineries, also involves compromises and often neighboring, non- organic vineyards can compromise a fully organic vineyard. Biodynamics is a more rigid system that makes for a healthier soil and, Williams hopes, will allow him to make a more regionally typical wine.

So exactly how does adopting biodynamics resolve the issue of neighboring agriculture which isn’t organic or biodynamic as well? They never explain, and the reader is possibly left with the false impression that biodynamics cures all ills – even those imposed upon us by neighbors with different agricultural practices.

"We are trying to embrace the philosophy and the principles of biodynamics," says Williams. "The idea is to develop a natural culture, a natural environment that we hope will give us a Pinot Noir of more regional character" than if farmed using chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and other non-natural chemicals.

This I applaud – the idea that we are entrenched in the same environment as the agriculture we are trying to promote is one which is too oft overlooked by modern farmers, as is I think the idea of Integrated Pest Management (
IPM). A return to - and reinvigoration of - sustainable agriculture is what this culture needs. And it sounds as though they may actually be thinking about what is useful from the biodynamic philosophy (anthroposophy), rather than adopting the entire system. (And I mean why would you want the entire philosophy with it?...Besides the most widely read "Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture", Steiner's other literary titles include "Reincarnation and Immortality", "The Druids: Esoteric Wisdom of the Ancient Celtic Priests", "Atlantis: The Fate of a Lost Land and Its Secret Knowledge" and "Reincarnation and Karma: Two Fundamental Truths of Existence" among others...and they're published as 'non-fiction'. Period.)

There’s more hope from the following:

“biodynamics calls for some time schedules that are very difficult to hit exactly,"
“since he is probably not going to seek formal certification for his system, he's not overly concerned if a procedure isn't done exactly on the vernal equinox.”
Dear Lord, was that actually some rational thinking? Unfortunately it isn't extended to question the validity of the "procedure" itself.
But even so, perhaps there’s hope for the human race after all…

And what happens in a year when there’s too much rain around the equinox anyway? Do we run our tractors into the field, risking getting them stuck, making ruts and compacting the soil into a hard pan (as well as cause more erosion) just because some dead philosopher wacko (Steiner) said to do some esoteric action on the equinox? NO!….we look at our local situation and assess when the environment is proper for some action…anything else would be sheer stupidity on our part.

Let’s just adopt that which is useful from biodynamics (meaning organic farming and a few broad strokes of philosopy), why take the baggage as well as that which is practical? My view is that the following is beneficial from biodynamic theory:

  1. that mankind is not separate from the environment and the natural cycle (“Nature”)
  2. greater personal attention to your plantings (vigilance) will offer you better potential to spot problems early before they get out of hand
  3. greater interaction of mankind within his agricultural practices is required than merely applying chemical stimulants to the earth
  4. utilize existing systems within the natural environment to increase the fertility of the soils and crops production
  5. utilize cover crops and crop rotation wherever possible
  6. return plant materials to the soil through composting and land covers

I’ll finish with a quote from a slide

presentation by Charles Francis, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, on sustainable agriculture:

“Useful philosophy comes from the Iroquois and other First Nation peoples: make decisions today after projecting the impacts seven generations into the future”

That may seem like a bit much for some people, and our current culture changes too rapidly for us to project that far into the future, but the idea that we have to think about what/who’s still to come in the future generations is a good one to remember…


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Hotties, marketing, and wine consumption in the US

I received a good deal of . . . flak . . . regarding my suggestion that marketing wine in the US should include good looking women. Seems a good number of people (*cough* snobs) are missing the point, so let me break this down for those too busy licking the label of their $150 CA Cult bottles or the receipt of their 01' Bordeaux futures to understand the fundamentals of marketing. The sheer absurdity of some of the things people have said to me in the last week regarding marketing wine in the US is just mind boggling. And the frivolity of my previous post on the subject may have led to misunderstanding among the lower primates.

Currently, growth in sales of wine, aggregate of all catagories, in the US is around 2 - 3% annually.
-If you think that is good, you probably work for a fedora or buggy whip company
-In reality, that type of growth (or lack thereof) for an alcoholic beverage is horrid
-If you subtract the growth in the table wine and under $7 catagories in the last three years, the growth rate would likely be less than 2%

My perspective :
-Wine is just a beverage
-Wine is an alcoholic beverage
-Wine is not a MONOLITHIC product (table wine is not super premium wine etc) and the US consumes as much hard alcohol (by volume!) as it does wine!
-The wine industry, as a whole, does a HORRIBLE job of marketing wine.
-The wine industry, as a whole, does a freakin ABYSMAL job of marketing to WOMEN, in any demographic, and a CATASTROPHICALLY bad job of marketing wine to the 21-35 demographic.
-Different catagories of wine require different MARKETING techniques

That being said, I have set these goals (my opinion only) for INCREASING WINE CONSUMPTION GROWTH in the US.

Opportunities for Marketing wine in US.
-Females, all demographics
-Males/Females, age 21-35

INCREASE wine consumption for the Female under age 44 by 15% in the next 5 years
INCREASE wine consumption for the Male/Female under age 35 by 20% in the next 5 years
(I hear the gasping "Oh Huge, that's impossible". Fine, then go away, and be happy in being a consumer, I'm talking about growth in SALES for this industry)

Now let me clarify, and as I have pointed out in previous posts
-The 21-35 demographic is not stupid or unsophisticated
-The 21-35 demographic will not buy wine by label art alone
-The 21-35 demographic represents the FUTURE consumers of wine
-Wine is not the alcoholic beverage of choice of the 21-35 demographic
!!! The 21-35 demographic represents an ENORMOUS potential market for wine!!!

Marketing wine to the 21-35 demographic and female under 44 demographic will require DIFFERENT marketing techniques. Established techniques that are NOT substantially different for other ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES.

Now, can you wine snobs see that? can you? please say yes. Because if you fall into the arguments I see on the Robert Parker & Wine Spectator message boards then you are past my ability to remediate.

What I would do :
-Stop spending money on ads (Wine Marketing Council) placed in lifestyle magazines, magazines where the consumer already has a relatively high consumption of wine.
-Use women to market to women
-Use women to market to men
-Portray and market wine as a BEVERAGE
-Avoid excessive purience, but do not avoid using FUN, HUMOR, or Pulchritude to sell wine.
-Market wine ALONG side RTD (ready to drink)
-Develop alternate and accessible (RTD style, like SophiaMini) PACKAGING beyond what is currently available (this will entail failures, that is, ideas that seem good but will flop. . .and you know what, that is OK, it's what we call business)

I have a specific idea to market wine, I will unveil that in a few weeks, but I needed to clarify this topic because so many people were just struggling with applying the basic concepts of marketing to wine.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Better than selling futures!

Check out this L.A. Times article (registration required) for a great way to make money off your winery when all else fails. Charge people "$125,000 to join Napa Reserve, a country club of sorts for affluent oenophiles. There's no golf or tennis, but members get to work alongside farmhands and on-site vintners to produce small lots of their very own wine. "

Beautiful, simply beautiful. The capitalist in me salutes you, Mr. Harlan!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Bordeaux shipments to U.S. down by a third

Good God, down by a third! How/when are they going to stop the bleeding?

Biodynamic email

Sir Bedevere: ...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped.
King Arthur: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail

An email from Jack:

I recently discovered your blog and have been enjoying it.

However, today's column on Biodynamic wine left me - hmmm - well, puzzled to say the least. You basically say that there's no advantage to biodynamic farming over (just) organic farming. But here's two facts that say otherwise:
1. Plants are in tune (or however you wish to describe it) with the cycles of the moon. No one questions this. (Or, how do you explain, for example, Fortnight Lilies blooming at the same time?).

I don’t agree that plants are in tune with the cycles of the moon – and I do question that statement.
I can agree that everything in the Universe is in some way interrelated, but the question arises “is it at a significant level?” – or is it some perceived “je ne sais quoi” which is in fact ethereal? (see "apophenia")

Just because the Moon is close to the Earth, and exerts gravitational pull on this planet – which is significant – doesn’t mean it has any other properties of significance (to agriculture). If that were so, then one should be able to hunt down some plant which does flower(/seed/etc) GLOBALLY based on some lunar cycle. For this hunt to be successful, this hypothetical plant would have to “react” to the moon’s cycle exactly the same – at exactly the same moment - whether it was in Northern Greenland or Cancun, Mexico (say during the
Full Flower Moon in April just for fun).
The statement implies that Fortnight Lilies should all flower on the same day – all over the world – which is clearly not the case. They bloom locally at roughly the same time due to the effect of weather & the seasons (Earth’s aspect & relationship to the Sun). As one pushes North (or South in the Southern Hemisphere) from the equator those dates will be pushed forward until a time when the season & weather are favorable for it to occur.

2. Some of the absolute greatest wineries in the world practice biodynamics. Domaine Leroy, Zind-Humbrecht, and Domaine Weinbach (Fallers), to name three. Why, why, why would they bother (and not just do organic farming) if there was nothing to it? I mean, we're talking about some of the smartest, talented winemakers on the planet. Answer me this!

I agree that these people are talented, and indeed quite smart. But I don’t think that they get due credit for their true stroke of genius – marketing.

In a sea of wines they have been able not only to differentiate themselves from other producers who use modern inorganic fertilizers, but also to further separate themselves from ‘organic’ farmers/producers - and simultaneously position themselves at the vanguard of the organic movement no less!
Genius! Pure unadulterated Genius, I tell you!

Perhaps they truly believe that they are effecting some cosmic change by packing cow’s horn with manure & burying it. But believing in something doesn’t cause it to become true. One need look no further than US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s statement that “…we know there are WMD’s in Iraq, and we know where they are”, to see that even very intelligent & talented people can be wrong about something they ‘know’ to be true. Surely you've heard the anecdote about the world being flat?
(I have a whole host of ancillary criticisms which arise from the stated beliefs of biodynamic theory, but I’ll save those for another post.)

Sure, we're not talking about the extremes...I don't think anyone goes to that. I know the guys in Australia buy packaged biodynamic stuff - very easy for them to implement there (I think it was Australian Karen? Cullen/Culler(?) who mentioned this to me). Did you talk to any winemakers who make biodynamic wine?

If you’re talking about burying horns packed with manure to “concentrate” the cosmic energy, then YES, I think we are talking about extremes.

I have visited 2 biodynamic wineries & vineyards, and talked with both adherents and skeptics, and listened to winemakers. My visits and talks with tour staff who get “doe-eyed, and speak in enthusiastic hushed voices about biodynamics” have left me nonplussed. Nobody seems to be using their brains, instead they merely wax philosophical about all the perceived benefits – yet when asked, can’t provide any particulars of how it works, or even why it works.
I’m here to tell you…the Emperor has no clothes on.

I also wonder if you read Nicolas Joly's (Coulee de Seurrant) book--Wine, from Sky to Earth before writing your post. I read it, and can't say I'm really won over, but there was some interesting stuff in it; a couple of photos were esp. interesting.
-- Jack

No, I haven’t read it. And I don’t think I’d be inclined to spend money (though I may get it at the library one day) which would then encourage Msr. Joly to continue on this avenue. I have read every interview and article that I could get my hands on, and also his ramblings on his own site (
Coulee de Serrant).

I think one could have as much success by just practicing organic farming. If a vintner longs for some cosmic connection, they can go buy a “Magic 8-ball” . And as long as they still farm organically, there should be no change in their results.

Thanks for the email, Jack. I hope I cleared up my position for you.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

So what's next?

Now that Diageo has bought Chalone and Constellation has picked up Mondavi, what's next on the global wine-industry acquisition front? I'm putting my money on Southcorp and Beringer, and if Diageo is as intent as they seem on building a larger wine portfolio, I'm betting that they pick up Beringer from Foster's or maybe Southcorp.

What's all this mean for the average consumer? Well, see my article on
mid-sized California wineries. Ultimately, for those in large wine markets (i.e. when you go into your local chain store, you can select from two dozen Chardonnays) this may lead to fewer buying options. If you can plan ahead and buy directly from your favorite supplier, you can improve your odds (provided you live in one of the states where it is legal to ship wine), but long-term it will also make it harder on small import brands as well. Finding Tim Adam's - "The Fergus", for example, will be next to impossible.

The US wine market plods along each year at 3% consumption growth, as corporations and big wineries continue to grow their sales at greater than 3% (in volume), that excess growth has to come at somebody else's expense. This issue is key to understanding the future of the US wine industry, IMO, and unless we can do more to increase consumption above 3% growth (and the potential growth is mind-blowing, see my "wine wenches" article or a follow-up at VineSugar) this will continue to negatively affect our options as consumers. On the plus side, this consolidation should provide continued price relief, as long as you don't mind giving up selection....

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Does the lack of HOT female winemakers hurt wine sales?

The Hottie Gap – Disparity in pulchritude among women winemakers, MWs, and tasting room staff.

Over the last several years I have noticed something interesting, that the number of female winemakers that one would consider as having a high degree of pulchritude, that is, HOTness, is rather limited. When you compare the level of hotness of female winemakers and female Master of Wine (both of them) there is a large disparity. When you throw in, so to speak, tasting room female staff* then the disparity is enormous (*summer in California, when all the female college students take jobs in winery tasting rooms).

Why? The convenient answer is that the wine industry in the US is, RELATIVELY, in its infancy, and women have yet to enter the winemaker ranks in significant numbers, so the number of Hotties would be relatively few. But what about female Masters of Wine? It seems that organization has some built in pulchritude criteria for women to be accepted, like Howard Hughes had a template for TWA stewardesses. I mean Andrea Immer is no goddess but she is much more of a babe than most female winemakers. Again, imagine Helen Turley out there trying to win new wine drinkers (ahahahaahhahahahah ooooohhhhh that's just too funny. . .or tragic, depending on how you think of it).

Should we not demand a higher level of pulchritude from female winemakers? Well, maybe not, keep them in the cellar and let the hotties do the marketing and selling. It may not make a difference in MAKING wine, but I think it certainly does make a difference in SELLING wine. As wine lovers we all do our best to spread the love of wine to others, but what about the wine industry. Women are the majority of wine buyers in the US (at least for table wine I think), so what is the wine industry doing to create a 'face' to sell to women, and women in the 21-35 demographic? What are they doing to sell to men in the 21-35 demographic?

Does the wine industry need a dynamic female to lead the marketing of wine to females in the US? YES! Does wine need the equivalent of the Swedish Bikini team, The Bud Lite Twins, etc to market wine to the male demographic in the US? YES!! Sorry to inform everyone but pulchritude SELLS.

Let's get the women out there 'moving product' and winning new wine consumers. Wine is not going to sell itself. The wine industry needs a dynamic and gratuitously hot team out there getting the 21-35 demographic EXCITED about wine. Imagine a 'Rosenblum Open House' with some babes circulating around pouring tastes, oh my, thats almost gratuitous. Oh I can hear the arguments now: But, but Huge, we can't use the tawdry tactics of the beer and liquor industry to lure in new wine drinkers (to win new wine makers the product has to be good, to LURE them past the pretensions associated with wine you need something more than WINE EDUCATION seminars). Oooohh youre right why use succesful marketing tactics for wine, its not like fermented grape juice is anything like fermented grains etc.

What we need is for a few chosen pulchritudinous wine wenches ( the term'Wine Wenches' is the sole property of Huge Johnson Enterprises LLC, and may not be used with the express permission of Huge) should do a road trip, set up a Wine Tent wherever there is a 'Stoli Tent' (have you seen the popularity of a Stolichnaya Vodka Tent, its incredible . . . and it MOVES PRODUCT!). MiniSophia's for everyone, music, merriment, that is, Wine . . .as a FUN, APPROACHABLE, EASILY CONSUMABLE. . . .BEVERAGE.

Wow, what a concept.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Biodynamics: the Santeria of viticulture

In the children’s book James and the Giant Peach, a man offers James glowing green crocodile tongues “…brewed in the skull of a dead witch…” that will magically grant his greatest wish should he but swallow them all down. It’s pure fantasy, and we all know it. Panaceas don’t really exist, and as adults we’ve all come to recognize that.

Biodynamic agriculture, for those unaware, is a type of organic farming in which great attention is paid to the cycles of the moon, stars, and the state of your livestock. If it had only stopped there it would have more adherents and would have been of much more use to the world. Unfortunately, it also focuses on rather obscure ritualistic formulae to ensure the fertility of the soil and animals. Though there are many erroneous points in the biodynamic theory, I'll specifically target the "preparations" that are used. Some of the Biodynamic “preparations” sound equally absurd & naïve as that passage from James & the Giant Peach:

  • Preparation 502 is the flower heads of yarrow, fermented (composted?) in a stag’s bladder
  • Preparation 505 is oak bark fermented in the skull of a domestic animal

(see here for an article with the entire list)

Proponents of Biodynamic farming would have you believe that unseen, un-measurable planetary & cosmic forces are at the heart of all agriculture. We are informed that all that is necessary to tap into these forces and improve farming is to follow the directions of Rudolf Steiner from lectures he gave in the 1920’s…and to suspend your disbelief. (Walking counter-clockwise three times around your vines while breathing through your right nostril also has shown the same breathtaking benefits to agriculture that biodynamics has…)

Rudolf Steiner

Let’s talk about Steiner for a moment. Born in 1861, in what is now Slovenia, during the rush of what we now call the “Industrial Revolution”. Is it outrageous to submit that his quasi-astro-metaphysical-agronomy was a reaction to the swift changes that he witnessed during his lifetime? Isn’t it reasonable to think that he was a victim of what we called “culture shock” in the 1980’s? Perhaps he was a visionary man - ahead of his time - as his views were more counter-culture 1960’s in their nature than mainstream 1920’s.

Let me state that I am wholeheartedly behind organic viticulture & agriculture, and I would applaud the eventual disuse of ALL pesticides, should that - God willing - ever come to pass. But let’s be real, beyond those portions of the Biodynamic movement based on organic farming – the balance is pure manure (or more accurately “bullshit”).


The HeathWatch-UK reported the following:

Sunday Times, 28 April, 2002

Organic farmers are receiving government grants to adopt a mystical approach which includes planting crops according to the moon's movement through the signs of the zodiac and burying a cow's horn in the earth twice yearly, says the Sunday Times. The number of farms in the country (meaning the UK /huge) following the biodynamic creed-a holistic approach championed by the Austrian-born philosopher Joseph Steiner-has doubled in the past four years. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which aims to triple the amount of land devoted to organic cultivation by 2006, now helps support many of our estimated 80 biodynamic farms.


Doesn’t really sound like the Brits differentiate biodynamic from organic, other than to state it’s “a mystical approach”. And their number of farms devoted to biodynamic methods went from 40 to 80 that year…I guess the word got out that it was a useful marketing tool. Perhaps it was the grant money available that converted people, eh?

There are some wineries in the US which have adopted this strange “ritualistic” agriculture. (See Alder’s posts on the Vinography website here, and his follow-up here for a list of producers. My hat’s off to Alder also for taking the time this last year to compile that same info for us all.) While the adoption of this system allows the winery to advertise itself as “Biodynamic”, or “Demeter Certified Biodynamic”, it in effect, does nothing beyond that done by organic farming.

In essence it’s only a marketing tool used to make a winery appear more “committed” or “hardcore organic” in the eye of the potential consumers.

To this date, I have been unable to find any studies done by any traditional agricultural institutions that can provide support for any of their theory or results.

Surely UC Davis would’ve jumped on this bandwagon – if it was going anywhere

Further reading - Links:

Demeter – Biodynamic certification (man…everyone’s got an angle to make some dough on this!)

Jamie Good on biodynamic farming (8 part article)

Oregon Biodynamic – website with some history, theory, implausible physics, voodoo, etc… (some rather interesting – if laughable – theory on why antlers channel external energy into stags’, thereby making them a nervous animal, as opposed to the “placid” cow… I think it’s called “domestication” you dipwads! Cows don’t have to worry about hunters… /huge)

New Zealand Skeptics – the name says it all, baby!

I’ll finish by suggesting that people who think that biodynamic farming is so great, should return to the Roman tradition of wandering through their fields with suckling animals while praying to Mars Silvanus, only to finally sacrifice the animal on the ground where the god’s help was needed.

Cow’s horns…..sheesh!