wa2.gif (4241 bytes)

abut9.gif (3095 bytes)

abut12.gif (3207 bytes)
abut10.gif (3636 bytes)

abut11.gif (4039 bytes)


Biodynamic wine from Bonterra, California 

2231 McNab Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482, USA
Website: www.bonterra.com

Winemaker Bob Blue (pictured) started working with Fetzer in 1988, a company that has seen a huge transition, from family owned winery to part of a larger corporate structure. He began working with Bonterra, the dedicated organic arm of Brown Forman’s wine estates, in 1996. Now Bonterra have released a biodynamic wine from the McNab ranch, which is located in the North Coast of Mendocino County. It began life as a sheep ranch in the 1800s, and now has 51 hectares of vineyards. It is certified by Demeter. I met up with him to taste his wines and poll him on his attitude to grape growing.

‘My interest is in alternative ways of farming’, says Blue. But he adds that, ‘I’m not as literal as some of the biodynamic people; I don’t think ideas come from just one place.’

What would he suggest is the way forward for viticulture? ‘My advice is to get out into your vineyard and count insects. You need to plant cover crops. Can you add more diversity? It doesn’t have to be fence post to fence post viticulture, so add some breaks. Strive for balance and don’t over-crop. Do good viticulture that matches the power and the ability of the soil.’

Blue believes diversity is very important. ‘Look at a forest and see how wild it is. Life is interwoven. Unless an exotic species is brought in, things don’t change much.’ He explains that, ‘Farming is an unnatural act. What you don’t see in a clean farm is how much energy it takes to keep it that way, and how fragile it is. Diversity works to make the system more stable.’

His advice to growers is that he’d ‘encourage you to use your intuition. If you are always thinking about inputs, it is quick fixes all the time and it doesn’t address the whole picture.’ Blue makes the analogy with doctors who are always addressing health problems, versus those who are looking at prevention. ‘Holistic farming aims to look at the whole idea’

Blue admits that he doesn’t fully understand the use of biodynamic preparations, but he acknowledges that there are chemicals such as plant hormones that have effects at very low concentrations. ‘During the era of conventional viticulture in the early 1990s, people rarely got out of their pick-ups’, he explains. ‘The emotional connection with the vineyard is important: Steiner was pointing out that this is what we are losing – ancestral agricultural wisdom.’

The 2002 McNab ranch table wine is an impressive effort, a blend of 70% Merlot and equal parts Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bonterra McNab Ranch Red Table Wine 2002
Dark, vivid spicy nose is fresh, spicy and full. The palate is plump and full with generous ripe fruit. Quite soft textured, showing elegant, pure sweet fruit and a nice spicy finish. Nice presence here. Very good/excellent 92/100

Wines tasted 05/06
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

Back to top