Finally a blog on the Preps!

April 10, 2016

For those unfamiliar with the term, the “preps” or “preparations” are the substances that Biodynamic farmers use to tend to specific plant needs. The preps get a lot of attention in the press as the defining feature of Biodynamic farming. While not denying or minimizing their importance, one need only read our website to understand the small role the preps play at COWHORN. So, when the need for a prep application presented itself, we jumped on it and I started writing!

The need arose recently when we were pruning the young cherry trees in the orchard. The cherry trees are three years old now and needed some major cuts to shape them for future years. On the major cuts, we applied a pasted of the prep called “barrel compost.” This paste, made from aged compost and herbs, protects the wound from disease and insects that could enter the trunk at the cut. It also acts as a salve for the wound.

In much the same way a warm compress draws out toxins from a wound, applying barrel compost draws out sap that helps the plant heal. As with most alternative remedies, barrel compost doesn’t act aggressively like a commercial or synthetic paste would. We think this gentle approach assists the plant with healing while at the same time helping to build its natural immune system.

– Barbara Steele




October 31, 2013


Punchdowns again this week for Syrah and Grenache. Punch the caps down hard, stir the grapes well. A few of the tanks are dry already.

– Karla

Club Event Menu

October 30, 2013

menuFinalized Club event menu for Nov 16 Fall Wine Release Party. This year we hired Fulcrum Dining Catering for the appetizers and Barbara will bake us some cookies. Contact us if you are over 21 and interested in joining the wine club.

– Karla

Cowhorn in Sonoma

October 28, 2013

sonoma Our wines showed really well Saturday night. Menu included various empanadas, McFarland’s Spring Trout, grilled lamb chops with chimichurri, and pears poached in port. Here are a few of Mark Steele’s photos.

– Karla

Sonoma Dinner Invitation

October 25, 2013

Cowhorn was the exclusive wine at a private Leerink Swann client dinner hosted at the Sonoma family home of Chef Marianne Despres Esposto, a Cordon Bleu-Paris trained chef and owner of El Sur SF with her famous handmade, Argentinian empanad…as and other South American specialties. Leerink Swann is a leading Wall Street investment firm focusing on the health care industry. Cowhorn Partner Mark Steele poured Syrah, Viognier, Spiral (Viognier/Marsanne/Roussane white wine), and Marsanne Roussanne. All of us here at Cowhorn surely know El Sur’s empanadas! (photo courtesy of El Sur SF)

– Karla

Herbal Relief

October 24, 2013

Today, I am happy to stay inside as the cool fall winds are blowing! If you have any summer herbs left in the garden, now is a great time to dry them for winter use. I made jars of dried parsley, lavender, oregano, and cayenn…e pepper. The drying table makes it all so easy! Thanks again to Ryan at Apothecary Farm for making it. Here’s how I did it. First, save your old honey or jam jars. Around now when your summer herbs are still fresh and not yet damaged by the cold, pick the herbs you want to dry in the morning. Set them on a drying rack out of direct sun and with good air flow. If they are oil based herbs, like oregano, be sure not to have the flower heads touch each other. I found that if they do, they can become sort of spongy rather than dry. If they are water based herbs, such as parsley or basil, heap them on the tray and wait. Once they are good and dry (a week or two), they will crumble easily. Put out a piece of wax paper and crumble the herbs over it. Pick out any stems or pieces that didn’t dry completely. Use the wax paper as a funnel to drain the herbs into the jar. It’s that easy!

– Barbara Steele

2013 Harvest Summary

October 22, 2013

The 2013vintage was one of our largest harvests ever. 42 tons total, or about 50/50 reds/whites. We are very happy with the quality! But onward and upward, Starting grape punchdowns today.

– Karla

Barreling Viognier

October 19, 2013

Barb and Vince barreling some Viognier into new French or neutral oak barrels.

– Karla

2013 Harvest Day 5

October 18, 2013

Today we have Syrah grapes coming at us all day on the sorting table like this photo! After sorting some are destemmed, some will sit whole cluster for a bit.

– Karla