Check it out: ‘Voodoo Vintners’ offers insights into green wines

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Review

“Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers”

By Katherine Cole; Oregon State University Press, 182 pages.

My choice for this week’s column is indirectly related to St. Patrick’s Day. How? Well, I was thinking about things commonly associated with March 17 shamrocks, leprechauns, green beer and I wondered, is there such a thing as green wine? A quick Google search turned up some interesting results such as green wine spritzers (a celebratory drink made Irish simply by adding a few drops of green food coloring), Vinho Verde which literally means “green wine” in Portuguese but refers to an immature or young wine, and finally, the website http://www.thegreenwineguide.com which champions environmentally-friendly wine, i.e., wine produced by following Green Movement practices. Aha! Enter “Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers.”

Whether you’re a hardcore oenophile or an infrequent imbiber, there is much to learn about biodynamic viticulture. What exactly does biodynamic mean? Think organic farming on steroids. The idea of growing grapes without the use of pesticides or other chemicals is not a new one, but closely examining the interrelationships of soil, water, plants and even animals is a relatively recent development in winemaking. In this book you’ll read about Cowhorn Winery, a producer of biodynamic Rhone-style wines located in Applegate Valley, Ore., and Cooper Mountain Vineyards, the first Demeter-certified vineyard located in Oregon (Demeter is an international organization devoted to promoting biodynamic agriculture). It becomes clear that growing wine grapes is certainly not an easy endeavor, but biodynamic winemaking, or any type of biodynamic agriculture, has its own challenges.

For a unique look into regional winemaking, give this book a try. Katherine Cole’s study of Oregon vintners committed to holistic growing methods is a good addition to books about the Northwest and its environs. Even if you don’t drink wine, reading about the amount of work that goes into creating a great bottle of vino is sure to impress.

While drinking green wine on St. Patrick’s Day may not be a widespread tradition, I think that the always green Northwest is the logical place to get the shillelagh swinging. Now that’s no blarney!

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org. She blogs at youbetterreadnow.blogspot.com.