Bonterra Vineyards: Honesty & Transparency Reaps Rewards

After 25 years of hard work and dedication to organic practices long before it was cool, Bonterra Organic Vineyards is now an overnight success. A steady plotting of crafting value wines with a focus on quality as well as environmental consciousness has resulting in Bonterra being awarded the coveted Wine Enthusiast 2016 Wine Star Award for American Winery of the Year. However, this is not the end of the story, it is just the beginning.

Bonterra’s vision was realized in 1993 by winemaker Bob Blue. Bob is a pioneer in the organic wine industry, from inception Bonterra has been crafting wines made exclusively from 100% organically grown grapes. In 2007, winemaker Jeff Cichocki joined Bonterra, continuing Bob’s vision of organic and biodynamic wines. With a focus on organic, Matt Tollini, organic vineyard manager, is an important part of the team.

“We are deeply committed to organic farming and transparency in everything we do.” ~ Bonterra

Bonterra’s inspiration for organic farming is simple, “organic grapes produce the purest expressions of the varietals and land on which they are farmed.” They utilize sheet and chicken to control insects, encourage bees to build hives in their chemical free sanctuary, and rely on cover crops for weed suppression. All this results in healthy soil that produces healthy grapes.

Sara Sanger for Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Bonterra Organic Vineyards via Sara Sanger for Wine Enthusiast Magazine

“Our goal is not to make the best organically grown wine, but to make the best wine and know it comes from organic grapes, too.” Jeff Cichocki in an interview with Jim Gordon, Wine Enthusiast

Bonterra does not stop their dedication to the environment with organic practices. They also practice biodynamic principles in their vineyards. Their philosophy dates back to how farms operated centuries ago. Family farms existed in isolation, the family, animals and farms all had to sustain each other. Bonterra’s biodynamic principles seek to replicate the family farm, by limiting external influences they create a holistic interconnectivity in the vineyard.


“The principle of Biodynamic farming is the simplest way to understand what it is: a living organism which is self-contained, self-sustaining, and follows the cycles of nature.” ~ Bonterra

Earlier this month, Wine Enthusiast selected Bonterra as its 2016 Wine Star Award American Winery of the Year. According to Jim Gordon of Wine Enthusiast, Bonterra was chosen based on their “outstanding quality wines, fast-rising popularity among consumers, and leadership in environmentally sensitive grape growing.”

In September I received three media samples of Bonterra wines. It has taken me quite a while to work through my samples to taste these wines. However, with the recent announcement of the Wine Star Awards, I’d say my timing is perfect. Here is my wine review:


2015 Bonterra Vineyards Mendocino County – Lake County Sauvignon Blanc North Coast USA ($14): everything you want in a Sauv Blanc, bright gold; aromas of grape fruit, stone fruit, lemon zest, and fresh cut grass leap from the glass; crisp and refreshing on the palate, optimal acidity with a lingering tart finish; a wonderful expression; buy direct or click here to find throughout the US

2015 Bonterra Vineyards Mendocino County – Lake County Viognier North Coast USA ($16): straw gold; nose is immediately met with sweet aromas of stone fruit and lychee from the touch of Muscat added, additional aromas of citrus and vanilla add depth; for a grape that lacks acidity and can be flabby this wine is decidedly crisp and vibrant on the palate, refreshingly racy with a clean acidity due to winemaking techniques that really bring out the brightness of the fruit, nice tart finish complete a lovely sip; buy direct or click here to find in US and Canada

2015 Bonterra Vineyards Zinfandel Mendocino County USA ($16): opaque ruby; bright rich notes of dark cherries, blackberries, black plums, warm spice, dark chocolate, touch of nutmeg and dusty earth; softer on the palate than expected, rich and round with balanced acidity and integrated tannins, full body yet refined with a spicy, black pepper finish; buy direct from Bonterra

If the results of a good wine are in the glass then I’ll have another. These wines taste clean and uncomplicated yet deliver on every aspect of a quality wine. It is hard to describe but these wines just taste honest. The freshness that is so evident in the whites translates well in a big red wine such as zinfandel too. I am super impressed and congratulate Bonterra on the winning the 2016 Wine Star American Winery of the Year. It is evident from the first sip of each of these wines why you were awarded such an honor.


*Disclosure: These wines are media samples sent to me by the winery. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Song Selection: Jeff Cichocki must be a music lover because in his bio he shares his three desert island songs. They are all songs I know well. One is by one of my all time favorite bands, Radiohead. One is by an Austin band I have grown up listening to. The third is a band I also really like from New Mexico. I have chosen the third as the song to pair with Bonterra because it is a great song (on my iPod) and I think the simplicity of the song with its elegance and finesse pairs the best with these wines.

How important is organic in your wine purchases? Do you seek out organic wines? Knowing organic often means more expensive in regards to food, are you surprised at the prices of these wines? How much does being awarded “American Winery of the Year” by a prestigious publication influence your likelihood to try Bonterra wines?

Get your own bottles of Bonterra wines and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!


One response to “Bonterra Vineyards: Honesty & Transparency Reaps Rewards”

  1. […] In the fall of 2016, Wine Enthusiast Magazine selected Bonterra Winery as their Wine Star Winery of the Year. It is the only time a fully organic winery has been selected. According to Jim Gordon of Wine Enthusiast, Bonterra was chosen based on their “outstanding quality wines, fast-rising popularity among consumers, and leadership in environmentally sensitive grape growing.” To learn more read my article, “Bonterra Vineyards: Honesty & Transparency Reaps Rewards.” […]

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