Washington’s first biodynamic wine was made last year.
Grapes from the Wallula Gap Biodynamic Vineyard, owned by brothers Bill and Andy den Hoed and their father, Andy, Sr., of Grandview, were made into biodynamic wine during the 2007 crush at Pacific Rim Winery in West Richland.
Pacific Rim winemaker Steve Sealock said that when making biodynamic wine, only wild yeast can be used. It is a minimalist approach to winemaking, with few ingredients that can be added. In addition to the wild yeast, Sealock added inert yeast hulls when the grapes were pressed off as a prophylactic measure, along with bentonite and a small amount of sulfites.
Biodynamic wines do taste different, Sealock said, adding that the biodynamic Riesling wine made from the grapes of Wallula Gap Vineyard has an “earthiness,” aromas of spice and nutmeg, and a drier taste than wine made from the same grapes but produced under conventional winery practices (with nutrients and acid added).
“It’s really about getting back to the vine’s roots,” he said. “We believe that wine is made in the field. We’re really just letting the vines be. Instead of extreme shoot thinning, and such, we’re letting them be.”
About 35 percent of the grapes delivered to Pacific Rim come from certified biodynamic vineyards, but little is actually marketed as biodynamic wine, the winemaker said. Last year, they sold only 800 cases labeled as biodynamic wine, from a total of 120,000 cases of wine produced.
“It’s not all about marketing,” Sealock said. “In our opinion, the biodynamic wines are the best wines hereâ€”that’s why the partnership with den Hoeds developed. Our goal is for 100 percent estate biodynamic wines.