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Voodoo Vintners: Oregon's Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers Paperback – June 15, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The writing is clever, candid and heartfelt, and also really funny... Cole's book is a sensual, smart study of the Oregon wine world and the future of agriculture. Savor it slowly.
--Kerry Newberry, Oregon Wine Press

As a field report from Oregon's thriving sustainable wine country, this book delivers... Voodoo Vintners is an enjoyable--and necessary--read for anyone who might want to take wine in a more sustainable direction... --Ryan Clark, Civil Eats

About the Author

Katherine Cole has been a wine columnist for The Oregonian since 2002 and is the wine columnist and blind-tasting coordinator for MIX, Portland's Magazine of Food + Drink. She lives in Portland, Oregon. www.katherinecole.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oregon State University Press; First Edition edition (June 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870716050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870716058
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you've wondered exactly what biodynamic wine is, why winegrowers make it, and who they are, then this is the book for you. It presents the perfect mixture of explaining the concepts and practices of biodynamics, telling great stories about the individual wineries and winemakers, while maintaining a skeptical viewpoint that shows the odd parts of biodynamics without extolling it or condemning.

I'm a frequent visitor to Oregon wineries and have wondered exactly what "biodynamic" means. The book answers that in substantial detail -- not as a winegrowing manual, but from a readable, journalist's point of view: what is the difference from organic? what are the "preparations"? the role of the moon? the underlying beliefs? The author does a great job of presenting answers all around, without being tedious or overwhelming. It's the perfect introduction to those topics for interested wine aficionados. The author is not trying to convince anyone that biodynamic is better -- in fact, she is clearly skeptical of some aspects of it, which I appreciate -- and is instead just trying to explain it and tell its story.

One thing to note is that the book is *not* a guide to the wines themselves. It remains studiously neutral about the quality of the wines it discusses. In my opinion, some of the very best Oregon properties are biodynamic and make exquisite wine; yet there are also duds where I can only say things like "well, I like the idea." The author leaves aside such judgment. Instead, she tells the history of the biodynamic movement and its foundation in Rudolf Steiner's philosophy, skillfully woven with stories of individual wineries and the history of organic and biodynamic winegrowing.

In short, if you want a wine guide, this is not it (try John Haeger's Pacific Pinot Noir).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently published Creating World Class Red Wine on Amazon. It could be described as kind of a top-down study of how the finest wines in the world are actually made--Hands on winemaking.
Here author Katherine Cole approaches the dodgy subject of biodynamism from a reporter's perspective, by interviewing Oregon viticulturists and winemakers engaged in the practice, and offering her opinions.
Her style is fun, young and whimsical. The book is written in a slightly more informal style than her professional wine reviews. The incomplete sentences threw me off at first, but then I just got used to them. Katherine is not a winegrower or winemaker, but she lives, breaths and works in the midst of it all in Oregon. The influences of both Burgundy and California are outlined as well.
The differences between organic viticulture, vinification and biodynamic winegrowing and winemaking are covered quite well. She illustrates how there is no absolute established dogma for any of the disciplines, except perhaps biodynamic Demeter certification.
Demeter is quirky, particularly the winemaking rules. “Though shalt not” almost everything. For example: A Demeter certified winemaker is not allowed to use a commercial yeast—well---unless you end up with a stuck fermentation—then it's okay. That's funny. Then why have the rule in the first place? Personally, I feel aligned with the biodynamic viticultural ideas, but there is no way I could tolerate some organization of British non-winemakers breathing down my neck telling me what I shall do (and tithing them to do it). Yes, it is almost like a religious organization. Winemaking and winegrowing techniques are evolving constantly, and should be encouraged to do so. We are learning more every day. I prefer to say “no” to limitations.
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Format: Paperback
As life in our world becomes more industrialized and processed, the desire to get back to natural ways
of living and eating has touched off the move to trumpet the organic qualities of some foods. Wine as a drink
is supposed to represent the earth and climate like no other, so of course you would expect there to be
organic wine. You may have even heard of winemakers flaunting their "biodynamic" cred.

When my neighborhood winery advertized themselves as biodynamic, I didn't think too much about it. But Biodynamics
is about more than just avoiding toxic sprays. It specifies a range of herbal treatments for vines which
must be prepared in some really wacky ways. Think burying flowers in animal skulls for several months.

Cole does an excellent job researching the roots of biodynamics and presenting it in a balanced way. But what's
really wonderful about this book is the way she introduces us to the people of Oregon wine. Winemaking is relatively
new in Oregon, dating back to the 1970s. So the pioneers are still with us.

If you are an Oregonian, this is a special treat. For example, you can read about Moe Momtazi's hair-raising
escape from his native Iran. Then you can drive out to Maysara Vineyards and meet Moe himself and his
winemaking daughters.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author jumps into biodynamics with a scientific mind and open heart. My personal interest in biodynamics is to learn how to farm as a piece of an ecosystem and not a master of a domain. That being said my personal approach to biodynamics is one of science and personal intuition. She does a good job covering the astrological and metaphysical parts without really siding for or against. This would be a difficult read if it were to proselytize the metaphysical side of biodynamics but I am glad it doesn't ignore it since its a huge part of the story. Great book.
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