New organic wine label launched in southern Oregon

May 28, 2011

Two southern Oregon winemakers have teamed up to to launch a new organic wine label, called Sullivan/Steele. Rogue wine country’s sole certified-biodynamic winery, Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden, and Upper Five Vineyard, the region’s only certified-organic winery partnered on a limited production of 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. Only 144 cases of the Sulivan/Steele wine, named for Terry Sullivan of Upper Five and Bill andBarabara Steele of Cowhorn, will be released. The organic grapes, grown in Upper Five’s vineyard on the slopes above Talent, were put through their natural fermentation paces at Cowhorn’s Applegate Valley winery. “Sullivan/Steele is just one example of how organic farmers can cooperatively bring better local food and wine to our community,” said Barbara Steele, owner of Cowhorn in a press release. “Our first Sauvignon Blanc is proof that cooperation among commercial organic farmers can produce excellent results both in the glass and on the bottom line.”

– Christina Williams

Woohoo…92!

May 26, 2011


We just learned that the editors at Wine Enthusiast rated and reviewed our 2008 Reserve Syrah and awared it 92 points. Only a selection of their reviews appear in print, but beginning August 1, you can look for it at WineMag.com.

In her follow report on Hospice du Rhône titled “An extravaganza of Rhônes,” Laurie Daniel at the San Jose Mercury News wrote that our first Reserve “is plump and lively, with flavors of blackberry, blueberry, a note of roasted coffee and firm structure.”

COWHORN launches The RINSE Project

Wine Bottle Renew partners with Biodynamic duo Bill and Barbara Steele to close the loop on wine bottle waste

APPLEGATE VALLEY, OR — COWHORN, the Rogue wine country’s only Biodynamic estate, is partnering with Wine Bottle Renew to pioneer The RINSE Project, a bioregional program that closes the loop on wine bottle waste. Of the 300 million cases of wine sold each year in the United States, 70 percent of the bottles end up in landfills, not recycling centers, and none are being reused–but not for long.

This October, COWHORN will be the first Southern Oregon winery to ship used bottles through The RINSE Project and intends to source from Wine Bottle Renew for future bottlings. The project enables the winery to cut its carbon footprint and per bottle cost while delivering an added value to customers: bottles that are better for the wine and the world.

The RINSE Project solves another growing concern for tiny wineries, bottle bloom, a condition when glass becomes cloudy from over exposure to climatic conditions and can cause spoilage. Small producers are frequently the recipients of discarded bottles that are renowned for bringing wine back to life the wrong way.

Inspired by Barbara Steele, the program is the first of its kind with the possibility of scaling up and will complement the winery’s relationship with The Green Glass Company to upcycle bottles into heirloom glassware. In partnership with The Ashland Food Co-op, COWHORN also maintains a Co-op cork-drop that sends used natural corks to Western Pulp for conversion into reusable, compostable wine packs guaranteed to contain a minimum of 99% recycled content.

The RINSE Project is made possible by transportation partner Agri-Plas, a Brooks, Oregon company that recycles agricultural plastics. Agri-Plas will deliver bottles between COWHORN’s Applegate estate and Wine Bottle Renew’s washing operation in Stockton, California. Additional Rogue Valley wineries are expected to join in and give wine lovers more locations to return used bottles for renewal.

“Biodynamic winemaking is about the purity of both our wine and the way we produce it.” says Barabara Steele, co-owner of COWHORN Wines and organizer of The RINSE Project. “Winemaking at COWHORN is a balance of high-tech and high-touch. Wine Bottle Renew uses leading-edge technology to extend the life of wine bottles by a factor or two or more times. Getting bottles back that are cleaner and greener than new glass is an added value for COWHORN customers who support sustainable businesses in spades and increasingly won’t settle for less.”

“We look forward to partnering with COWHORN and Agri-Plas in helping solve the environmental problems associated with discarded wine bottles,” said Bruce Stephens, CEO of Wine Bottle Renew. “Our process will create clean, cost effective and environmentally sustainable wine packaging to wineries everywhere. We welcome all participation.”

The tiny winery has made a big name throughout its home state and beyond for producing wines of exceptional purity and pleasure. It’s 2008 Spiral 36, a hand-crafted blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, was an early sell-out in its first year prompting Northwest Palate to make it their “Pick of the Palate” and The Oregonian to name it their number one choice for a perfect picnic pairing. Wine writer Matt Kramer praised its 2009 Spiral 36 as “a rare accomplishment” of “very deft winemaking.”

This year alone, Wine Enthusiast has awarded ratings of 90-points to 2009 Spiral 36, 90 to 2008 Grenache 74, an rich unfiltered red, and 91 to the 2008 Syrah 74

Wine Spectator describe COWHORN wines as “sheer pleasure” and Imbibe magazine picked the out-of-the-way winery as one of ten Biodynamic wines they dig. Portland Monthly told readers to “expect to sample some really excellent vino here”; Seattle Metropolitan named COWHORN among the “top 100 northwest wines”; and The Oregonian called them “eye-openingly good.”

For more information

COWHORNWINE.com
WineBottleRenew.com
AgriPlasInc.com

The Demise of the Cowhorn Choke?

May 25, 2011

After two years of working with the artichokes, I am so sad to say that I am considering abandoning the project. So far this season, we are pleased to see that the plants are beautiful and vibrant. No temperature or pest problems, soil is healthy and the irrigation has worked like a charm. Yet, check out the photos of the chokes themselves. These baby chokes are not similar in size. Also, notice how the smaller one is already opening, as if it is bolting to seed very quickly. These inconsistencies are not a chefs dream! Bill and I have served them up and they are tasty, but I don’t know if they will make the Cowhorn grade for selling them commercially. I am too sad about it to give up just yet. A little more pondering until I decide what to do.

– Barbara Steele

I Love This Time of Year!

May 18, 2011

Last night for dinner, Bill and I had an asparagus sandwich and a Syrah 74. The sandwich is open face with a layer of almond, asparagus and roasted garlic puree, layered with roasted asparagus and then topped with cheddar cheese! The Syrah 74, well … you know what that is. It was a WONDERFUL meal!

– Barbara Steele

Applegate Valley Goes to Hospice du Rhone

May 11, 2011

Yes, Cowhorn is stretching its wings once again. Last week I was pouring Cowhorn wines at Hospice du Rhone in Paso Robles. Hospice du Rhone is the largest gathering of Rhone style wine producers in the States. Lately I hear people saying that the Applegate is the up and coming Rhone growing region. Sort of a Paso Robles in the making.

Surely I love when I hear that, as Cowhorn only grows Rhone variety grapes. But, in truth I think the magic of the Applegate is that we can be home to great wines from many varieties. Our climate and geology offer diversity that is not matched anywhere in the world other than the rainforests! One aspect about fine wine growing that makes folks wax poetic is the mystery of the vintage. Here in the Applegate, unlocking the mystery of our farms is equally as romantic!

– Barbara Steele

Recycling Update: New Life for Old Bottles

Last week, Cowhorn delivered over 5000 bottles to Rebootle in Forest Grove, Oregon. Rebootle will re-use the bottles into glass tiles for a new office building being built in Portland. Special thanks to the Applegate Lodge for sharing in the collection process. Also, Cowhorn is getting ready to place their first order for recycled wine bottles to be used in the Spring 2011 bottling. Wine Bottle Renew is working with us to select the best bottle that meets our color and weight specifications, and that also works well with our corks, capsules, labels and bottling line. It is like a very complicated puzzle fitting all of these requirements together to produce one beautifully packaged bottle of wine!

– Barbara Steele

Sweet sprigs break ground

May 5, 2011

It’s Asparagus Season here at our Applegate Valley estate, when the sweetest springs in the Rogue begin breaking ground in their 2-acre patch between the forest and the vineyard.

In addition to preserving biodiversity as part of our Master Plan, Cowhorn is a perennial polyculture, and asparagus is our first commercial crop each growing season. With over 15,000 plants, of the Purple Passion and Jersey Knight varieties, we expect to pick about 125,000 spears this year weighing in at around 8000 pounds.

Sweet sprigs break ground

It’s Asparagus Season here at our Applegate Valley estate, when the sweetest springs in the Rogue begin breaking ground in their 2-acre patch between the forest and the vineyard.

In addition to preserving biodiversity as part of our Master Plan, Cowhorn is a perennial polyculture, and asparagus is our first commercial crop each growing season. With over 15,000 plants, of the Purple Passion and Jersey Knight varieties, we expect to pick about 125,000 spears this year weighing in at around 8000 pounds.

Barrels of fun for sale

May 4, 2011


From bistro tables to bird houses, used wine barrels offer a super stylish way to reduce, reuse and recycle. Each summer we’ve been happy to see about 10 to 15 Cowhorn barrels get a second lease on life at new homes around the Rogue.

As Cowhorn continues to grow, we will have more beautiful old barrels to roll out each summer. This year, we expect to have closer to 30 barrels available for purchase for $35 each, or two for $50. Such a deal!

Barrels are available on a first come, first serve basis. So if you want one (or two), please be sure to say so when you make your appoointment for a tasting so we have your barrel ready to go when you arrive.