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Woot.com is an amazing internet success story.  Out of Texas, the site features one product per day with a limited number of that item in stock.  Woot has created a rabid fanbase who frequently buy out the entire lot by 9am.  Cultivating this fanbase is Woot’s own witty prose about the product.  The site’s meteoric rise has also brought it to raise $4m from Amazon (no word on valuation) in additional capital to fuel growth and operations.

In branching off to other product verticals, Woot started wine.woot.com (one wine a week) and shirt.woot.com (one t-shirt a day).  This week, wine.woot.com features a Benziger Family Winery Red Trio for $59.99 (plus $7 shipping).  In the trio, you receive a 2005 Merlot Feingold Vineyard Sonoma Mountain, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Stone Farm Vineyard Sonoma Valley, and a 2004 Winemaker’s Claret Sonoma.

Despite the perceived lower quality of selling wine on Woot, this seems to be an effective supply channel for reaching a voracious audience in an efficient manner.  The Benziger family is a powerhouse in the Biodynamic® world and any trend they follow is probably a smart one.

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Chateau Monty, a Channel Four six part series, about Monty Waldin, former wine critic, author, and Biodynamic® expert turned winemaker aired its first episode this week.  Reviews have been mixed, but the concept is intriguing.  As reported,

But even organic wasn’t good enough for Monty. No – when it came to making his own, Monty decided he’d settle for nothing less than biodynamic – an agricultural method that avoids pesticides and chemical fertilisers, relies on nature to protect and feed the crops, and uses the lunar cycle for harvesting and pruning the vines.

So Monty traded in his Tuscan villa (where he was writing a wine travel guide) for a vineyard in St-Martin-de-Fenouillet, a tiny village of 40 set in the French Pyrenees, a region responsible for one-third of all French grapes, and gave himself 18 months to make a delectable biodynamic wine. Economic downturn in the wine industry meant that many winegrowers were selling off their vineyards, so it didn’t take long for Monty to find his perfect patch – a 5.5 acre, sloping vineyard home to 6,000 Carignan grapes and a stunning view over the mountains.

The result of Monty’s effort, trials (some that are hilarious), and tribulations is Monty’s French Red, a now popular selling bottle. Despite the mixed reviews, the show looks to be a nice warning signal to anyone looking to enter wine making.

Halesowen News coverage
Times Online review
Decanter review
Guardian interview

A new wine has hit the shelves from Western Australia.  One half of the team, “biodynamic ambassador” Pascal Marchand, has teamed up with Jeff Burch of Howard Park Wines to develop three varieties of wine, including a Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Pinot Noir under the label Marchand & Burch.

From their press release,

Incorporating biodynamic principles at every stage from the vineyard through to bottling, Jeff and Pascal have taken every step to craft a range of wines that best express the terroir from which the grapes have come.

Pascal started following biodynamics in 1988 during his time as regisseur at De La Vougeraie.

“You have to observe a lot. That is the main thing about biodynamics. It brings you closer to the forces of nature and helps you work with nature better, while not controlling or working against it.” says Pascal.

Through this inspiring project, Jeff has become a firm believer of adopting biodynamic practices in winemaking, which will see his Howard Park range of wines following suit in years to come.

“Once it’s gripped you (biodynamics), it’s an all encompassing passion. The science behind biodynamic practices is good common sense for the land and the quality of the wine…and through these practices we are starting to see some amazing results in our wines.” says Jeff.

From our reading and talking to our wine-loving friends, this has been a highly anticipated partnership by two experienced vintners.  According to Red White and Green, the company will have a “biodynamic practice in some vineyards, not certified.”  Keep an eye out for these new bottles!

Bonny Doon has a post-Labor Day special,

Spend $99 or more (before tax) and we’ll include ground shipping at no additional charge. Offer ends 9/30/2008. If you cannot ship via ground delivery, please call us at 1-888-819-6789 to receive discounted shipping.

If you are in one of the states that allows shipping of wine to your home, go for one of their delicious Syrahs!

The Benziger Family recently won the first ever “Endangered Species Coalition Champion Award for Land Stewardship” presented by the Endangered Species Coalition.  According to Sonoma News, “The Endangered Species Coalition hopes that the award will encourage many other landowners to explore sustainable land-management practices that protect wildlife as well as open spaces in local communities.”
Congratulations to a great family and wonderful Biodynamic® vineyard!

In the article “Wine with a Small Carbon Footprint” in yesterday’s Mecury News, discusses the slow food movement with buying local wines. The matching of ideas is terrific. As Laurie Daniel states,

I love a lot of imported wines, but when I think about their carbon footprint, it sometimes gives me pause. It takes a lot of energy to transport wine from abroad, whether it’s a $10 Australian shiraz, a $15 Chilean cabernet or a $100 red Burgundy. There are ways to reduce the carbon footprint — container ships are better than airplanes — but those imports still are traveling a long way.

She points out that, local to her, Bonny Doon (the quasi-press vacuum for Biodynamic® wines) “makes a terrific albarino under its Ca’ del Solo label; the 2007 ($20), which is certified biodynamic, is fresh, crisp and floral, with white nectarine and citrus flavors.” Hopefully, the press begins to link local purchases with Biodynamic® purchases to completely minimize a consumer’s carbon footprint.

Slow Food Nation is coming up!  From August 29 – September 1, in San Francisco, thousands of people will come and celebrate the philosophy behind Slow Food USA.  All types of food that is local, fair, clean, and strengthens the economy will be available.  Of course, given that Biodynamic® food and wine are the “cleanest” available, it is terrific to see that on Sunday there will be a session titled “Biodynamics and Wine”.

From the official site,

Wines produced from biodynamically-grown grapes, farmed by gentle methods good for the earth, are a true expression of place. Four wineries will describe their disciplined biodynamic practices and ongoing, intuitive awareness while they present wines for tasting from their certified Biodynamic® properties: Paul Dolan Vineyards, Ceago Vinegarden, Grgich Hills Estate, among others. This workshop holds 45 people.

For the cost of $20, this is sure to be a very popular event with terrific information sharing and delicious tastings.  Buy tickets here.

The Sonoma Locavore Experience is a three-day tour created by The Grape Leaf Inn, in partnership with Relish Culinary Adventures and Scott Beattie Cocktails, to experience,

Sustainable farms and vineyards in the realms of cooking, mixology and winemaking. Visit organic and biodynamic vineyards and farms, cook and savor meals and cocktails that feature ingredients grown, raised or produced within thirty miles of the charming town of Healdsburg, and meet the people whose dedication to sustainability is a natural part of life in this bountiful and beautiful region.

Part of the trip involves a stop at Quivira Vineyards, where visitors will be exposed to Biodynamic® farming and winemaking.  As this site grows, we receive a lot of traffic from Sonoma.  If anyone takes the trip, please let us know as it sounds wonderful.

Topel Winery announced today that they won a Telly Award for in the Travel/Tourism category of the Film/Video division.  The winery earned the bronze award for their video highlighting their winery and and winemaking process.

The Telly Awards honor local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, along with work created for the web.

Topel Winery crafts premium wines while adhering to Biodynamic® agricultural practices.

Crushpad is a San Francisco-based company that allows you to become a winemaker.  The customer is intimately involved in the winemaking process and they receive their own designed label and bottles at the conclusion of the customizable process.  The minimum order is 25 cases (1 barrel) and prices range between $5,700 – $10,900. Crushpad recently raised a $9 million round of financing to grow their operations.

Putting a slight Biodynamic twist on the Crushpad idea is Grand Cru Estates.  Grand Cru Estates takes the same model of Crushpad and allows you to make your own wine.  Sadly, their press release doesn’t indicate that they will allow you to make Biodynamic wines.  Fortunately, however, they will feature a “biodynamic kitchen” at their Oregon vineyard for members.  Memberships start at “an initial membership fee of $5,000 for the first 30 founding members, along with a $20,000 fee for each member barrel.”

About Demeter and Biodynamic Certification

Demeter® USA is the non-profit American chapter of Demeter International, the world’s only certifier of Biodynamic® farms, processors and products. From farm to market, Demeter's rigorous standards ensure compliance to the highest agricultural and environmental practices. These practices include organic certification prohibitions against the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and go much further to include a biodiversity set aside of 10% of total land, on-farm fertility and pest control, rigorous processing standards that emphasize minimal product manipulation, and most importantly whole farm certification (versus a particular crop or area allowed in organic certification). It is the highest paradigm of sustainable farming, offering one of the smallest carbon footprints of any agricultural method. Only those companies that meet these standards are permitted to display the Demeter certification mark on their products, or refer to their farms or products as "Biodynamic."