Cowhorn Vineyards might clue you in as cowhorn is integral to one of the more famous Biiodynamic preparations. Preparation 500 is essentially a cow horn, filled with a cow manure mixture, that is buried in the ground. The purpose of this preparation is to improve soil structure and microbiological activity. It is considered by some to be one of the key preparations for Biodynamics. Cowhorn Vineyards is the only certified Biodynamic vineyard in Southern Oregon, though you will find a number of others in the Willamette Valley.
Initially, they had not been wine drinkers, preferring beer, but Barbara's brother was a wine writer, and they eventually started drinking and enjoying wine. Their growing passion for wine led to their decision to start a vineyard and try to make wine. A bold move for two people who had never been involved in farming before. They wanted a blank canvas, something which they could transform into whatever they desired. In addition, they sought an isolated farm with good water rights, and in 2002, finally found what they desired, an abandoned farm. The estate comprised 117 acres, 60 which were flat, and the land reached to the Applegate River.
Bill stated that prior to moving to Oregon, they had lived an organic/homeopathic lifestyle, and that included their dogs as well. Biodynamics was similar to their philosophy so it was an easy decision to choose to adopt it for their vineyard. Bill is a true believer but doesn't push his ideas on anyone, stating that his philosophy is a choice, a preference, and it is not about right or wrong. The vineyard and winery has been Demeter certified since 2006, and the health of their soil is of utmost importance to them.
Data collection is important to them, allowing them to better understand their vineyard, and that isn't a surprise knowing Bill used to be a financial analyst. That analytical nature might seem incongruent with his embrace of Biodynamics but Bill doesn't feel that it is the case. He stated that his greatest challenge was maintaining his sanity, with so much work that needs to be done, the risks of weather, the unexpected complications, and so much more. It can almost be overwhelming, especially as they had no prior experience. It helps that the people of the wineries of Southern Oregon are very cooperative, and quickly lend assistance and advice when needed.
The 2012 Spiral 36 ($28) is a blend of 50% Viognier, 30% Marsanne and 20% Roussane, and only 650 cases were produced. The wine spends about 3 months in French oak (80% neutral, 20% new), has an alcohol content of 13.5% and native yeasts are used. It was crisp and clean, with pleasant citrus, pineapple, and melon fruit flavors, as well as a nice richness on the palate.
The 2012 Marsanne Roussanne ($28) is a blend of 45% Marsanne and 44% Roussanne 55%, and only 125 cases were produced. The wine spends about 4 months in French oak (83% neutral, 17% new) and has an alcohol content of 13.5%. It too was crisp and clean, with notes of green apple, lemon, and apricot, with a backbone of minerality. Well balanced and a lengthy finish. Highly recommended.
The 2009 Syrah 80 ($35) is made from 100% Syrah, and only 630 cases were produced. It is named "80" because that is the number of frost hours in the growing season. The wine spends about 9 months in French oak (35% new) and has an alcohol content of 13.5%. I enjoyed this wine, finding it possessed a nice depth of flavor, excellent black and blue fruit flavors, a mild spiciness and a bit of floral aspect. It is more a wine of elegance than power, with a long and satisfying finish. A wine that beckons out for roast lamb, a hearty aged steak or a rich meat sauce.