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» In Celebration of Alan

» Wine Advocate Reviews

» The Minimalist Grenache

» Breaking Ground

» Viognier 2nd Highest Rating

» Sunset's Best of the West #9

» Wine Enthusiast Reviews

» My Wines of the Year

» Co-op cork drop

Calendar of Events Not to Miss

Feb 14-15 - Valentine Winery Event
Mar 21 - Reserve Viognier Release Party (club invitation)
May 4 - Twisted Cork Winemaker Dinner (Grants Pass, OR)
May 17 - Applegate Valley Spring Uncorked
May 30 - Spring Release Party (club invitation)
June 17 - Marché Winemaker Dinner (Eugene, OR)
June 18 - Pouring at Pairings Portland (Portland)
Nov 21 - Fall Release Party (club invitation)
Nov 22 - Applegate Valley Fall Uncorked

We send an email announcement before each event with more information. If you are a Club member and would like to RSVP, call or email us at contact@cowhornwine.com.

Alternatively, if you are interested in becoming a Club member, see the Club Page on our website. We look forward to having you as our guest!
Bill & Barbara Steele
Alan York, Nature's Own

By Thom Elkjer

Alan York was a sage of nature.
      His expertise with biodynamic agriculture came from decades working with plants and soil, and from study with past masters such as Alan Chadwick. The rest was pure Alan.
      I first heard his name during a visit to the McNab Ranch vineyard in Sonoma County that gave rise to Bonterra winery. It was the last day of Thanksgiving in 2000. After driving for an hour past leafless, bare-dirt vineyards exhausted from the year's cycle of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, it was stunning to see that McNab Ranch was a flower-filled, golden-leafed, bee- and bird-blessed paradise.
      What accounted for this astonishing difference? "Biodynamics", said winemaker Bob Blue. "And Alan York."
      At Cowhorn, we were immensely fortunate to have both - and to learn the difference between them. Biodynamic agriculture is a sublime way to farm, and Alan had his own sublime relationship with it, one that he took into the farm and our lives.
      It began on his first visit to the property, just weeks after escrow closed. It was a torrid summer day, and a hot wind coursed down the narrow valley. Standing under a shaky canopy in the middle of the future vineyard, we presented our timeline for planting, harvesting and selling wine. It was all worked out in comprehensive spreadsheets, year by year. All we had to do was follow the schedule.
      Alan smiled, as he often did before speaking, and said, "The fast way is the slow way."
      He meant that nature was going to tell us how long things would take, and we had better listen or we would have to do things twice - which would really blow up the spreadsheet.
      With his guidance we learned to slow down, read the signals from the land, and act accordingly. It took a little longer to realize that Alan himself wasn't just waiting around for signals. He was signaling nature right back.
      One of his communication channels was the biodynamic preparations, which are nature-based liquids that get sprayed onto plants or soil, or added to the compost pile. Most biodynamic farmers apply the preparations according to a schedule or the lunar calendar. For Alan, the preparations seemed more like a private telegraph system between him and the vines.
      This is one of the reasons our grape quality has increased every year despite a short growing window, a scary number of frost hours during the growing season, and more than 10 different clones in the vineyard. The vines know what they need to do. We know what they need from us. It's still a vibrant conversation.
      The only thing that has changed is that Alan is not physically a part of it now.
      He bravely gave up the fight to preserve his body from cancer early in 2014, knowing that a lot of great conversations he started are going to continue for generations. From Oregon to Chile to Italy, millions of meals and glasses of wine are going to enrich countless lives in ways no statistics or spreadsheets will ever explain, and Alan's inimitable wisdom will be in every mouthful.
      He will certainly live on in the Cowhorn vineyard and gardens.
      That first day, he looked up and down the property as the blasting wind shook the canopy and bent the sparse stalks of wild grass flat over baking sand and river rocks.
      "Well," he said, "this sure is someplace else, but now it's where we're all from. We've just got to learn the language."
      In truth, I think he already knew it, even before the vines went into the ground. Nature held Alan close, and he returned the embrace. May it ever be thus.
Wine Advocate Reviews

Friday | 11/1/2013
Wine Advocate scores are in!

In the current issue of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, Cowhorn is compared with the wines of Alban, Cayuse, Hermitage and St. Joseph, and we are delighted to be referred to as "Southern Oregon's viticultural star."

David Schildknecht says, "It's clear to me from the recent releases tasted with them in July - not to mention from re-tasting their 2010 Syrah 58 - that their renditions of Rhone varieties need no longer shy from comparison with any in the world..."

2010 Syrah 58 - 94 Points
"Ripe plum... game...allspice...head turning aromatic intensity..."
600 Cases Produced

2011 Grenache 42 - 93 Points
"Fascinatingly complex...incisive and invigorating...compellingly delicious..."
130 Cases Produced

2012 Viognier - 93 Points
"I have seldom if ever tasted a lovelier or better-balanced Viognier..."
250 Cases Produced

2012 Marsanne Roussanne - 93 Points
"Capable of standing comparison with the best such blends from St. Joseph or Hermitage..."
120 Cases Produced

2012 Spiral 36 - 92 Points
"Scents of fresh lime and white peach...luscious...downright luxuriant..."
650 Cases Produced

For the full text of this review, please see our Accolades page story. Click Here
The Minimalist Grenache

Sip Column

Nature vs. Nurture
January 2015

By Sara Schneider

Six minimalist picks

Bonny Doon 2010 “Le Cigare Valant”
(Central Coast; $45)
Savory and earthy (violet notes excepted); plum and dusty berries layered with pepper, black olive, and cured meat.

Cowhorn 2012 Grenache 20
(Applegate Valley, Oregon; $45)
Tart red fruit – juicy Rainier cherries – with crushed herbs, white pepper, baking spices, and mocha.

Deovlet 2011 “Sonny Boy”
(Santa Barbara County; $40)
Earth, pepper, smoke, and mocha on the nose of this Merlot blend give way to cherry, violet, and fresh herbs.

Ser 2012 Cabernet Pfeffer
(Cienega Valley; $35)
Forget your Cabernet reference points – this rare variety is earthy and floral at once. Bright, spicy red fruit (cranberry, strawberry) gets a hit of pepper worthy of the name.

Siduri 2012 Pinot Noir
(Sonoma Coast; $32)
A velvet-packed palate of cherry, strawberry, and orange peel under intriguing cola and forest-floor aromas.

Sojourn 2012 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir
(Sonoma Coast; $54)
Loam and violet aromas lead to rambunctious cinnamon-cherry with hints of cola

Breaking Ground In Pursuit of Living Building ChallengeTM Certification

Monday | September 22, 2014
The intimate, energy-efficient space is a reflection of owners’ and customers’ values

We recently broke ground on two buildings designed to meet some of the world’s most stringent green building standards. Working with Green Hammer, an Oregon-based integrated design-build firm, we are following the Passive House standard and pursuing Living Building Challenge™ Petal Certification for a new 2,200-square-foot tasting room. Expected to be 70-90 percent more energy efficient than conventional construction, the tasting room utilizes Forest Stewardship Council®–certified wood, natural daylight and local materials free of harmful chemicals and toxins. Inspired by the Steeles’ personal connection to their wine club members, Green Hammer architect Erica Dunn, AIA, crafted an intimate space for visitors to explore Cowhorn’s award-winning wine.

The Cowhorn tasting room is one of about 20 projects in the state of Oregon to register with the Living Building Challenge, according to the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), which administers the challenge.

Additionally, we broke ground on a new 2,300-square-foot residence designed by award-winning Green Hammer architect, Jan Fillinger. Designed to meet the Passive House standard, the house will provide an inviting, energy-efficient retreat.

Wine Spectator Awards 2012 Viognier 2nd Highest Rating

Friday | 1 /10/2014

Our 2012 Viognier was awarded the second highest rating by Wine Spectator for a domestic Viognier in their latest review (available web-only

"2012 Cowhorn Vignier 92 points: Sleek, supple, inviting and distinctive, balancing richness with an open texture. Offers ginger- and lychee-accented pear and lemon flavors, lingering with the expansive finish. Drink now through 2017. 250 cases made. - Harvey Steiman"

Sunset's Best of the West #9

Friday, September 28, 2013

October 2013 issue

Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden

(Applegate Valley)

In a mini valley, this spot feels delightfully remote and as wild as its biodynamically grown wines. Try the 2009 Syrah 80 ($35), with an intriguing savage side; you'll find pepper, meat, leather, and spice under its juicy core of minted plum and berry fruit. $5 tasting fee; 1665 Eastside Rd., Jacksonville; cowhornwine.com

92 Points, Editor's Choice !

Wednesday | January 14, 2015

Wine Enthusiast's Sean Sullivan named our 2013 Viognier & 2013 Marsanne Roussanne as Editor's Choice! Both wines scored 92 points. See the February issue or their website for more reviews and details. All three wines are currently still available for purchase on our website.

Cowhorn 2013 Viognier, Applegate Valley, $35
92 Points, Editor’s Choice
Aged just three months in French oak (28% new), the wine focuses on the fruit, with rich notes of apricot, pear and tangerine. It’s full-bodied with sweet fruit flavors and a long, lingering, exquisitely fruit-filled finish. — S.S. (2/1/2015)

Cowhorn 2013 Marsanne Roussanne, Applegate Valley, $35
92 Points, Editor's Choice
A vibrantly aromatic wine with notes of apricot, toast, nutty spices and cream displaying both detail and complexity. The palate is full-bodied yet still shows restraint with fruit and smoky flavors that keep the interest level high through the lingering finish. — S.S. (2/1/2015)

Cowhorn 2013 Spiral 36, Applegate Valley, $28
91 Points
A blend of near-equal parts Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne, this is aromatic with notes of corn on the cob, dried apricot and tangerine. The palate is full-bodied with sweet apricot flavors and a smoky finish (20% new French oak). — S.S. (2/1/2015)

My Wines of the Year

Each year, Wine Spectator columnist Matt Kramer selects his favorite wines of the year. In the year end issue for 2012, Matt selected our 2011 Spiral 36 as one of his top three wines! Cowhorn is the only domestic producer selected and is noted for the excellence of all of our wines. As always, thank you for your support of Cowhorn, without which we would not be here to receive this honor.

Matt Kramer:
"Cowhorn Applegate Valley Spiral 36 2011 ($28). This small, biodynamic wine producer is located in a far-off spot in southern Oregon near the California border. Specializing in Rhone varieties, Cowhorn is, in my opinion, creating some of Oregon's finest wines - and yes, that includes the state's much applauded Pinot Noirs.

Spiral 36 is the proprietary name for a seamless dry white wine blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. More than most such blends, this one emerges as a classic sum-greater than its parts acheivement. Everyone to whom I've served this wine has been astonished at its zingy, refreshing, subtle flavor and texture. It shows, as does Cowhorn's supberb Syrah and excellent Grenache, a true vocation of place for these grapes in southern Oregon." December 31st, 2012

- Matt Kramer

In a complementary program, the Ashland Food Co-op, Southern Oregon’s first and only Certified Organic retailer, has partnered with COWHORN, the Rogue Wine Region’s first and only Certified Biodynamic® estate winery, to convert used corks into reusable, compostable wine packs guaranteed to contain a minimum of 99% recycled content.

» Read DailyTidings article