Bonterra is one of the world’s most significant brands of organic and Biodynamic wine. It is the organic (originally) and then Biodynamic off-shoot of Fetzer vineyards, and is based in the town of Hopland in Mendocino County, California. It makes wines under the Mendocino County AVA.
Staff: Sebastian Donoso (winemaker, organic and Biodynamic wines).
Grape sources: 2018 Bonterra grows its own organic grapes on 270 hectares (670 acres). It also has three Demeter certified biodynamic ranches called Blue Heron, Butler, and McNab with a total of 114 hectares (283 acres) of red and white wine grapes combined which produce single vineyard wines. In addition, Bonterra buys in certified organic grapes. | 2016 ‘Bonterra sources its grapes from 900+ acres of its own and buys grapes from growers, that add an additional 900 acres or so to the number of acres it sources from. So it totals about 1,800 acres of organic [and Biodynamic] vines. That’s more than ten percent of the country’s organic vines,’ (Pam Strayer, 2016).
The Roost: See Blue Heron Ranch.
White single variety wines
Bonterra Chardonnay: 2017 California AVA 13.5% alcohol. 70% of the juice fermented in a combination of French and American oak with full malolactic fermentation for richness. The remaining 30% fermented in stainless steel to preserve the crisp fresh fruit flavors. Most of the wine is aged in previously-used or neutral oak, with only 15% new oak overall.
Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc: 2015 California AVA 55% Mendocino County, 45% Lake County. | 2017 13.4% alcohol. Fruit from Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties.
Bonterra Viognier: 2016 Mendocino AVA 14.8%. Small portion of Muscat in the blend for aroma. Fermented in both stainless steel (70%) and barrel (30%), with no malolactic fermentation. 8 months in oak.
Bonterra Rosé: 2007 Mendocino County AVA. 13.7% alcohol. Bob Blue told me (perso comm.) the blend was 54% Sangiovese, 24% Zinfandel and 22% Grenache Noir. 6.5g/L acid and 3.14 pH. Screwcap, clear glass bottle, in fine shape in early August 2017 at Nick Nicholas’s in Combe Down, Avon (UK) showing bright salty-savoury fruit and pleasing mouthfeel without any obvious tricksy crowd pleasing sweetness. Not bad for a California rosé with nearly 11 years on the clock and in a screw-cap bottle! | 2017 Mendocino County AVA. 13.3% alcohol. This is a dry rosé, making it an ideal wine to enjoy on its own, but it is also incredibly versatile to pair with food.
Red wine blends
The Butler: See The Butler ranch.
The McNab: See The McNab ranch.
Red wines from Single Vineyards
Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon: 2016 California AVA 13.8% alcohol.
Bonterra Merlot: 2015 Mendocino County AVA 13.7% alcohol. Lots were fermented separately and underwent full malolactic fermentation before being combined to create the final blend. Small additions of Petite Sirah and Malbec for complexity. Aged 12 months using a combination of French and American oak of which 45% was new.
Bonterra Pinot Noir: 2016 Mendocino County AVA 14.5% alcohol. Careful sourcing from celebrated Mendocino County vineyards with various microclimates and soil types results in a complex, bright, fruit forward Pinot Noir. After hand harvesting, the fruit was gently de-stemmed and moved to small open-top fermenters for a three-day cold soak. It was then inoculated with select yeast strains for fermentation. Gentle pressing in a basket press, the wine was settled and transferred to 100% French oak barrels where it underwent malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged in French oak for ten months and then fined with organic egg whites prior to bottling.
Bonterra Zinfandel: 2016 Mendocino County AVA 14.9% alcohol.
Bonterra Organic Vineyards, 12901 Old River Road, Hopland, CA 95449, USA
Pam Strayer (2016), ‘Grow, Baby, Grow: Fred Franzia is converting 5,000 acres to organic certification’, www.winecountrygeographic.com (posted 30 August 2016).