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On the Fifth Day of Christmas, My True Love Sent to Me: Five Organic Wine Guides

December 29, 2020

DaVero biodynamic farm saves seeds in this barn.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, My True Love Sent to Me: 

The fifth day of Christmas is today, December 29. It’s also the day for St Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century who was murdered on this day in 1170 for challenging the King’s authority over the Church. 

Sounds a bit like organic and biodynamic farmers challenging the petrochemical laden establishment!

Animals like this pig are part of a biodynamic farm including this one at DaVero near Healdsburg.

My favorite authority when it comes to wine guides is Pam Strayer, and fortunately instead of FIVE GOLDEN RINGS, my true love sent to me FIVE ORGANIC WINE GUIDES by biodynamic wine expert Pam Strayer.

The guides cover four organic regions on the west coast, and the fifth guide is all about biodynamic wine.

Why are guides like this valuable and important?

Because even if you THINK you’re buying an organic or biodynamic wine, unless you see the certification on the bottle, it may not be!

About half of the fine wine wineries with certified organic vines also make wine from grapes grown with pesticides. While you might ASSUME because their estate wines are organic that the other wines are also, you’d probably be wrong , Pam told me in a recent email interview.


If this is one of your new year resolutions, there’s only one place on the internet to find organically or biodynamically grown wines from fine wine producers where only wines from certified vines are included: Pam Strayer’s Wine Country Geographic  where you’ll find links to five different guides to help you get in your glass organic and biodynamic wine:

These sites — which are accessible from any device–tell you which wines are from the organic vines, because, as noted above, some wineries make wines from grapes grown with pesticides and pesticide free, organically and biodynamically grown and certified wines. 
So how is Pam Strayer an authority on this topic? I met Pam in 2016 at the Wine Blogger’s Conference in Lodi where I learned right away about how important organic and biodynamic is to her and to the planet. Pam’s background in technology and journalism, and her experience as an editor for Slow Wine, led her to develop these guides.

Back in 2010, Pam started studying chemical use in vineyards, and she was shocked to see that wine grapes were being grown with such toxic materials.

Those producers using those chemicals including carcinogens, reproductive toxins and more “were among the loudest voices in the so-called sustainability movement,” she says. “No one was looking at the pesticide use records the state of California collects. So these marketers were doing a lot fake green marketing.”

Pesticides and toxic herbicides like Roundup that get sprayed on and around vines end up in wine. “We now have high tech mass spectrometry that shows us that conventional and sustainable wines have as much as 500-1000% more pesticide residues in them compared to organic or biodynamically grown wine,” writes Pam. “The latest science shows us these herbicides are  are linked to cancer and liver diseases. And then there’s the fungicides: bee and bird toxins, neurotoxins and more. They’re in the wine, too. But only in the conventional and “sustainable” wines.”

In addition to being wines for a better WE, these wines are better for ME. In addition to being better for a healthy planet and the people who grow the grapes, they’re better tasting too:

“What has amazed me is how incredible the wines from wineries with organic vineyards are.”
Biodynamic wines consistently score up to five points more than conventional wines I learned at the 2017 Biodynamic Wine Symposium the Pam helped to organize. I know from tasting A LOT of wine (typically thousands, but in 2020 with the trade events cancelled starting in March I tasted closer to 500 — and wrote about 200 or more on Wine Predator.) 
While some of the top wineries in California are organic, “they are very low key in talking about organics in their marketing,” says Pam.  “You’re better off going for the organic wine every time. The universe of fine wines from organic vines spans everything from wines around $15-25 to the most expensive wines in the marketplace.”  With organic wine, “There is no compromise in quality and in terms of price, organic is free. In wine, no one charges more for organically grown wines. Amazing.” 
Because while producing organic wine and getting certified is more expensive, most producers do it because they have a passion for the product and for the planet– not because they can make an extra buck.
Once you discover how good the wines, “you’ll be a total fan of these wineries,” says Pam confidently, and these sites are the ONLY place in the world to find these producers and these wines. The sites also offer discounts and plenty of info about how to visit and taste once we return to touring and traveling.
Classes and workshops are coming too, and Pam and I have talked about doing some projects together including holding creativity and writing workshops at biodynamic wineries which are beautiful and inspiring places to be. Watch for more about workshops and classes on writing with wine, virtually and in person in 2021!
Rave reviews from important voices in the world of organic and biodynamic wine include former president of Demeter (biodynamic certification organization) and regenerative food and wine industry consultant Elizabeth Candelario who says,
These sites are must have resources for all wine lovers who are concerned about greenwashing and want to know what wines are produced with certified organic or biodynamic grapes.”

Monty Waldin,  author of numerous books on organic and biodynamic wines  writes “Pam Strayer’s coverage of organic, biodynamic and natural wines stateside is based on rigorous research into individual wineries’ wine growing and winemaking practices.” 

EMAIL Pam Strayer at to subscribe.

Mention Wine Predator to get all five guides for the price of four!
That’s a savings of $25 a year. 

Subscriptions can also be ordered by paypal to Pam Strayer aka

Read the original post on this at Wine Predator. 

A small gazebo in the garden holds tastings at DaVero. Read more about DaVero and my visit to Healdsburg here.

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