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Dark Horse Vineyards

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Biodynamic winemaker Paul Dolan.

As impressive as Parducci Wine Cellars was, what really struck me about Paul Dolan’s Dark Horse Vineyard located on a 160-acre ranch above Ukiah, was its beauty. Dolan makes wine for Parducci and for his own brand of wine, Paul Dolan Vineyards. And what vineyards they are.

Vines with a view.

Unlike most vineyards, Dark Horse is a wonderfully diverse place. In keeping with biodynamic practices, the vineyard is part of a diverse ecosystem, not just a monoculture of grape vines. Cover crops grow between the rows of vines. Flowers flourish everywhere to attract beneficial insects. Cows, goats, chickens, and sheep all graze nearby, keeping down weeds and generating all important manure for compost. Owl boxes stand above the vineyards.

When Dolan bought Dark Horse, he replanted all the vines along an east-west axis to take better advantage of morning sun.

My favorite part was the rainwater collection tower that sends water down a curving trough into a basin where Paul prepares his soil and plant preparations, special biodynamic brews for soil and vine health. Underneath the tower is a hobbit house-like structure where biodynamically prepared manure is stored for later use.

Parducci sales and marketing director Kelly Lentz stands before the water tower and trough where the biodynamic brews are brewed.

How’s the wine? I tried the winery’s flagship Deep Red, a biodynamically certified Rhone-style wine. It’s a beauty with great finesse and power and layers of delicious complexity. It’s not widely available but look for it on restaurant wine lists and in small wine shops.


Written by stettholbrook

June 1, 2011 at 6:03 am

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