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Allegretto Vineyards and Wines

Allegretto Vineyards
 
February 7, 2019 | Allegretto Vineyards News | Allegretto Vineyards

The basics of biodynamic vineyard practices

 award winning estate wines in Paso Robles

As more vineyards are turning to biodynamic vineyard practices and biodynamic wine is gaining public attention, more people are asking questions.

Is biodynamic wine the same thing as organic wine?
What makes a vineyard “biodynamic?”
Is there a biodynamic certification?

The staff at the Allegretto Vineyards Tasting room, the home of award winning Paso Robles estate wines, has the answers to these questions. 

Biodynamic vineyard practices are based in biodynamic farming or gardening practices that were developed by Austrian philosopher, Rudolph Steiner. Somewhat similar to organic farming, two things distinguish biodynamic farming from organic farming:

The use of a complex system of herbal sprays and composting techniques, known as 'preparations'.
The timing of the operations on the land, which are strictly regulated by the movements of the moon and planets, which make up the biodynamic calendar.

Is biodynamic wine the same thing as organic wine?

Both are similar in the sense that biodynamic and organic are based in practices that don’t use chemicals. The biodynamic principles take a few more steps than organic. Biodynamic farming includes the influences of the lunar calendar and astrology. Biodynamic farming principles consider the farm, or vineyard, and everything on it—other plants, insects, animals—to be part of a living organism. Biodynamic wine is one of the end products of these practices. The end result is wine—fine wine for all to enjoy.

What makes a vineyard “biodynamic?”

According to the Biodynamic Association, “Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition.”

Biodynamic farming, including vineyard management that results in biodynamic wine, is a set of farming practices that view the farm as a single organism. Each portion of the farm functions as a whole with each portion contributing to the next. The idea is that the practices create a self-sustaining system sustained by natural materials, composts, and soil. Animals such as ducks, chickens, horses, sheep live on the land, fertilize the soil, and create a rich fertile environment.

Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are forbidden for the sake of soil fertility.
Biodynamic farming also seeks sustainability, or leaving the land in as good or better shape as they found it for future generations.

Farming practices, from soil preparation to harvesting, are controlled by the biodynamic calendar, which is influenced by the lunar calendar and the planets. Days on the calendar have specific tasks that are associated with the Earth’s four classic elements, earth or soil, air, fire, and water. Certain tasks, such as watering and harvesting, take place on certain days.

 

One of the foundations of biodynamic farming is preparing the land. This preparation involves special composting and field preparations. Even though crops may already be growing, these preparations can still be implemented to begin the biodynamic cycle.

The initial composting is know as the “cow horn” preparation. Specific composting compounds are prepared which include cow manure, herbs, and other plants. These compounds are placed inside of cow horns and buried in different locations on the land. Later, the cow horns are dug up and the contents spread on the land. The horn must be from a cow, not a bull or steer.

There are additional composting practices, using other composting compounds, that are practiced at different seasons.

This description of biodynamic farming and vineyard practices is very high level. One way to learn more of the interesting details is to visit the Allegretto Vineyard tasting room, enjoy some excellent Paso Robles award winning estate wine while discussing biodynamic vineyard practices with the tasting room staff.

Is there a biodynamic certification?

The Demeter Associaton, Inc. is the driving organization behind biodynamic certification for biodynamic farms and products in the USA Basically, the requirements for certification include meeting all of the certification requirements under the National Organic Program plus meeting the more extensive Demeter standards. These standards emphasize solutions for disease, pest and weed control, and specifications around water conservation and biodiversity.

In the case of vineyards and wine, grapes from a biodynamic certified vineyard are biodynamic grapes. But, the process to get to biodynamic certified wine the Demeter Wine Processing Standard must be met.

This standard has two labeling categories:  "Biodynamic® Wine” (the most rigorous category),  and "Made with Biodynamic® grapes.”
Both categories permit the use of a specified amount of sulfites, approved yeast nutrients, Bentonite for protein stabilization, and Biodynamic or organic egg whites for tannin fining.
Both prohibit the addition of outside aromatic yeast, malo-lactic bacteria, enzymes or tannins.
The “Made with Biodynamic® grapes” category also permits limited sugar and acidity adjustments and some variance allowing the addition of a neutral yeast strain in certain documented cases.

Never miss an opportunity to learn more

Wine, vineyards, winemaking processes, grapes, and harvesting are only a few of the conversations taking place at the Allegretto vineyard tasting room on any give day. Good conversation is part of the wine experience. Drop in for a unique tasting experience and good conversation.

The tasting room is located at 2700 Buena Vista Drive in Paso Robles. Hours are Sunday and Monday 1 - 7 p.m; Wed to Sat noon - 7 p.m. Tuesdays are by reservation only. Phone (805) 369-2526.

Enjoy!

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Experience award winning estate wines in Paso Robles at the Allegretto Tasting Room

The Allegretto Tasting Room offers a unique opportunity to sample some of the region’s best award-winning wines. Both estate and single vineyard wines are available from the Allegretto vineyards that surround the tasting room and the nearby Willow Creek District Wine tasting at Allegreto Tasting room gets you a fresh glass after each tasting and explanations about the wine. Purchase at least two bottles and the tasting fee is waived. Food and wine by the bottle are available in the family-friendly courtyard. The wine tasting list includes the gold medal winning 2013 and the 2014 single vineyard cabernet sauvignon, both from the Willow Creek Vineyard. The tasting room is also the place to experience a unique “flavor balancing” experience that adds a completely new view to wine and food pairings. The flavor balancing seminar was brought to Allegretto by John Stallcup, the Director of Wine Hospitality. John, the former Marketing VP for the wine group also co-founded the Napa Seasoning Company with Tim Hanni, MW, one of the originators of Flavor Balancing as well as being the first American to pass the Master of Wine Exam and the inventor of the Progressive Wine List. Flavor balancing has been adopted by the Wine and Spirits Education Trust not to mention a growing group of chefs, including Allegretto’s Chef Eric Olson, Jeremiah Tower, Michel Trama in Bordeaux, France, and Sarah Scott in the Napa Valley. Flavor balancing is a technique to learning to drink the wines one prefers with the food one likes to eat. Yes! White wine with steak! And here is how it’s done!

Flavor balancing—pairing wine with the diner

Because humans adapt to any sensation of sound, sight, hearing, touch, aroma or taste we can experience negative adaptations. The easiest way to understand a negative adaptation for tasting food is to brush your teeth and then drink orange juice. You experience only the bitterness of the orange juice because your taste adapted to the sweetness and it disappears to your sense of taste. When you “flavor balance” you avoid negative adaptations and accentuate positive ones. By adjusting the acid, salt, savory (umami) and bitterness levels, while avoiding sugar in entrees and sides, chefs create a balance that allows wine to work perfectly with a dish, regardless of the wine selection. Flavor balancing is the basis of many foods in wine cultures like Italy, which serves lemon with its famed Steak Florentine. It also works with cuisines that are popularly considered more difficult to pair with wines, like Thai, Chinese, and Indian. To experience flavor balancing at the Allegretto Tasting Room, first call ahead to schedule the time. You and your guests will have personal attention while engaging in the hands-on exercise of balancing the five primary tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. By balancing the primary tastes in the food you avoid negative adaptations, enhance positive adaptations and thereby enhance the experience of food and wine. Guests will also learn about negative and positive adaptations, how to avoid them as well as the difference between flavor and taste. You will learn how to pair wine with the diner, not the dinner.

 

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