Playhouse Wine Festival: Day 3


You and me and the S.O.B.

Moderator Mark Davidson said that the title came to him one evening when he was brainstorming for this seminar (wine may have been consumed that night). He pitched it to the festival as a joke, and fellow humourous wine soaked folk that they are, they jumped on it.

I admit – the title of this Trade Master Class is what initially caught my eye, but the subject matter is what signed me up. Deciphering the confusing issues of Sustainability, Organics and Biodynamics with a panel of leading experts from around the globe was not to be missed. Chile’s Alvaro Espinoza (Emiliana Vineyards), Australia’s Jane Ferrari (Yalumba) and BC’s own Rhys Pender (MW and winemaker) led the discussion and shared their experiences in the greening of wine in their respective regions.

While many talk about organic and biodynamic grape production, few have a truly clear understanding of the process, involvement and dedication involved. Rules and regulations are in the infancy stage of being formed and vary widely from country to country. Some countries, like New Zealand and now Chile, are leading the field with strength in numbers. In September 2010, Wines of Chile launched the Sustainability Program for Chilean Wine, and 14 wineries have already received their “Accredited Sustainable Wine of Chile” certification, with twice that on the verge of certification. Chile’s privileged and pristine natural growing conditions create the ideal environment for greener winemaking – in whatever form that might take.

Think about it – people pay a great deal of interest to how their foods are treated – where it comes from, how it was processed, the conditions of the production, the chemicals used. We all understand the benefits of healthy ingredients, not only to us, but to the planet. Why should it be any different for wine? For the health of the soils, the treatment and nurture of the vines and the winery facility itself – the same attention we pay to what we chew should be afforded to what we sip. And that point evolved into the crux of the discussion. Weather you farm sustainably, organically or biodynamically, you need to pay more attention every step of the way. You need to observe and plan, and you need to listen to the rhythm of nature. It’s easy to use chemicals and it’s easy to bend nature to your convenient schedule, but at what real benefit, and more importantly, at what real cost?

One of the wines presented in the seminar was Ontario’s Tawse Winery Quarry Road Vineyard Riesling 2010. Organic and Biodynamic, from the Vinemount Ridge appellation, this wine practically vibrated in the glass. Lime zest, grapefruit and scented green apple sang an intro to a medley of bright limestone minerality, lime sherbet and citrus. Vibrant, focussed and refreshing, this was a perfect example of the living energy of wine, and a strong argument to persuade naysayers to the power of biodynamics.


The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival  is one of North America’s largest and greatest celebrations of wine. This year from February 27 to March 4, the theme country is Chile and the focus is Cabernet(s). EAT will be on site for the whole week, with daily posts, DRINKs, tweets and updates live from the festival.

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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