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Troon goes beyond biodynamics

Rudolph Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, first proposed biodynamics in 1924. Based on holistic and symbiotic practices, biodynamics took the early 20th century organic movement and placed ethical, spiritual and astrological elements to it. No one really knows why but biodynamics works, and creates beautiful wine.

Biodynamic farming, including viticulture, starts with the soil. One part involves a special compost of natural ingredients that is prepared and spread around the vineyards.

At Troon Vineyards that brew contains manure (800 yards, in fact) from a neighbor’s dairy, Troon’s own hay and grain, and all the leftovers from the grape harvest. It’s all about improving and sustaining the life of the soil.

There’s a vitality, a life force, an energy transferred through the health of the soil that’s deemed integral in producing healthy and vibrant fruit.

“That’s the first step in the whole entire system,” says Nate Winters, certified sommelier at Troon.

And a whole system it is. Biodynamics begins primarily in the vineyard. Everything, from planting to pruning and harvesting, follows a biodynamic calendar based on the lunar cycle. No chemicals are allowed. All yeasts are native. Beginning with the soil, the basis is that everything is interconnected, and there is a virtuous circle of life that finds its way to the vine, and into the glass. That magical sense of place, the terroir, can best be expressed in this way.

Troon started in the biodynamic direction in 2017 after Denise and Brian White, both in the medical field, purchased the property. It takes three years to receive Demeter biodynamic certification, so their first biodynamic wines were released in 2020.

Now Troon has taken its innovation a step further in sustainability. This year it became a regenerative organic certified (ROC) vineyard, one of only two in the world.

Nate’s ROC shirt sums it up: “Farm like the world depends on it.”

“We are trying to do our part for sustainability and regenerativeness. The ROC adds on other elements like ethics, well-being of animals and people, living wages, humane practices, so it adds that societal portion to it. But they also track and measure how much you are regenerating, including organic matter in the soil. Everything you do shows something rather than just blind faith.”

Regeneration is not just a practice, but “how nature works,” he says. “There’s so much more to symbiotic relationships than we were once privy to.”

He believes the wine that best expresses the symbiosis “may be the tannat, because it goes through a slower, longer fermentation allowing all the generations of yeast to fully develop.”

Keeping with the expression of sense of place, Troon uses Oregon handmade clay amphorae for several of its wines. Clay is a fine-grained subset of soil. It’s made up of very small particles that stick together, keeping the wine in contact with earth as long as possible.

There is a symbiotic and active relationship between the clay and the wine, which creates a vibrant, alive and fresh wine while making the most out of sense of place.

“Clay never imparts flavor, more of a textural character,” Nate says. “It’s more porous than oak, allowing us to be more hands-off in the cellar, and a steward of the terroir.” These wines are fermented and aged for 10 months in amphorae on the skins.

Cheers to long life and fruit of the vine.

Reach Paula Bandy at pbthegrapevine@gmail.com and connect with her on Instagram at @pbthroughthegrapevine.