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Paul Dolan, Biodynamics and the North Coast Wine Challenge

Paul Dolan, Biodynamics and the North Coast Wine Challenge

I still recall my reaction to meeting Paul Dolan a few years ago. In advance I was hesitant knowing that he supported organic and Biodynamic principles. I wondered if he was he going to be one of “those” people who border on rudeness with respect to nature? Absolutely not, we soon discovered, that Paul is enthusiastic about organic and Biodynamic principles but he emphasizes education rather than passion.

Paul Dolan is a friendly, laidback winegrower and winemaker who is genuinely excited about Biodynamic principals. We were privileged to taste some of his wines and walked with Paul as he explained Biodynamic principles beginning with the buried female cows’ horns filled with manure that after months turn to compost and then used as a “tea” for the vineyards. Eventually we went through the vineyards past a vibrant and colorful flower garden that helps to attract beneficial insects. Finally we ended at a structure called a flow form. It resembles a waterfall. A tower collects rain and a solar powered pump moves the water up to the top where it then runs to the bottom becoming oxygenated along the way. The compost is added and mixed with the running water and then sprayed on the soil. For more about Paul Dolan read the article at http://winetrailtraveler.com/california/pauldolan.php. We were grateful that Paul took so much time describing the vineyards and Biodynamic principles with us.

Paul Dolan Wine Website

Paul Dolan Vineyards has an unusual winery website, that may inspire other winery owners. Upon entering the website, visitors will see an image of vineyards and property. The image is interactive. By moving the cursor over the image names appear including: habitat breaks, rainwater collection tower, owl box, Biodynamic vineyards, bug farm, waterfall, and mobile chicken coop. Website visitors can also find out more about flora, fauna, soil and art. Paul has placed a daily Biodynamic calendar on the first page. After I planted onions yesterday, I quickly discovered that April 23 was a Root day – so quite by accident I planted onions on the “right” day according to followers of Biodynamics. Will it make a difference? Perhaps.

North Coast Wine Challenge

What brings all this to mind is that Paul Dolan is scheduled to be one of the wine judges at the North Coast Wine Challenge in late May. This wine challenge will be the first of its kind with winemakers from wineries in the North Coast AVA.  They are all “neighbors.” According to Wine Institute’s website, the area covers “more than three million acres, includes Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties, and portions of Marin and Solano counties.”

This wine competition could be quite a challenge for any of the wines entered from any of the counties. Napa has a name and fine wines, what will the reaction be if Napa wines do not compare well with those from any of the other counties. On the other hand, Napa wines may be highly ranked. The results should be very interesting. Perhaps it should be renamed a Judgment of North Coast California 2013.

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