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A sampling of North Bay organic wines

By Greg Cahill

In the North Bay--home of the first mass-marketed organic wine, Fetzer Winery's popular Bonterra label--organic wine remains highly visible, both in the field and in retail stores. Sebastopol Fine Wine Co., and the Whole Foods, Petaluma, Oliver's, Fiesta, Pacific, and Community markets all offer large selections of domestic and foreign organic bottlings. Here are a few easy-to-find local labels:

Chance Creek Award-winning Philo vintner offers an acclaimed sangiovese, a rare organic Italian-style chianti.

David Bynum Winery A small vineyard in Healdsburg, it produces three organic varieties.

H. Coturri & Sons Five varieties--pinot noir, merlot, sangiovese, syrah, and zinfandel, all organic and Glen Ellen­grown--are produced at Jewell Vineyards, 700 feet up the northeastern slopes of Sonoma Mountain.

Fetzer Bonterra This Hopland-based company was the first winery to go national with its organic line, initially with its popular chardonnay, and now bottles seven varieties.

Frey Vineyards The oldest and largest organic winemaker in the United States is located in the heart of the Redwood Valley in Mendocino County and prides itself on "producing wine of the highest quality while caring for planet and palate alike."

Frog's Leap Winery This family-owned artisan winery in Rutherford in Napa County produces six varieties, including the Leapfrogmilch.

Kenwood Vineyards Technically, Kenwood vineyards doesn't market its wine as organic, but three of this large company's vineyards are certified organic. The winery website points out that Kenwood made the switch out of concern for the environment, goodwill toward the agricultural community, and sympathy for farmworkers. Kenwood does add relatively low levels of sulfites.

Lolonis Maureen Lolonis of the Mendocino Estates winery is the driving force behind this popular Redwood Valley cabernet sauvignon.

Madonna Estate/Mont St. John This Napa winery cultivates 160 acres of organic grapes to create eight varieties, including a rare Muscat DiCanelli.

Roumiguere Vineyards As a Marin County supervisor, Bob Roumiguere was known as a social conservative who often earned the ire of local liberals. As a Lake County winery owner, Roumiguere is winning the admiration of wine drinkers with progressive palates for his organic varieties.

Topolos at Russian River Vineyards The winery offers several popular varieties, both under the Topolos and EcoVin labels, including the acclaimed Bella Lisa Zinfandel and Piner Heights Zinfindel.

Vigil Vineyard This Calistoga winery's Estate Reserve Terra Vin is produced from organically grown grapes.

Volker Eisele Family Estate A Napa County winery in Chiles Valley, it is renowned for its handcrafted cabernet sauvignon produced from the winery's 50 acres of organic grapes.

Yorkville Cellars This estate winery in the tiny (pop,: 25) Mendocino hamlet of Yorkville boasts that it is "most awarded estate winery in the state of California with certified organically grown grapes" and produces nine premium wines.

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From the September 6-12, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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