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» The Minimalist Grenache

» Breaking Ground

» Viognier 2nd Highest Rating

» Sunset's Best of the West #9

» My Wines of the Year

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Calendar of Events Not to Miss

Dear Friends,

We email an announcement or invition before each event with more information. If you are a Club member and it's regarding a Club event, you are welcome to RSVP.

Alternatively, if it's a club event and you are interested in becoming a Club member, please visit our Club Page for more information.

We look forward to having you as our guest!
Bill & Barbara Steele

Feb 13-14 - Valentine Winery Event
Mar 19-20 - Invitation-Only Event
May 7 - 8 - Celebrate Mom
May 22 - Applegate Valley Spring Uncorked
June 11-12 - Annual Club Release Event
Nov - TBD Event
Nov - Applegate Valley Fall Uncorked

The Ten Best Wines 2015
Another year of drinking amazing wine reminds me that we have so many hard-working winemakers to be thankful for in this world. Each time I open a bottle of wine that gives me a thrill I offer up a silent word of thanks to the individuals who labored over the vine, who pruned, picked, hauled, loaded, stirred, schlepped and tasted, tasted, tasted, to make something of beauty. Each bottle that thrills me gets recorded in my book of tasting notes and at the end of the year I review them all. This is a “highlights” list of 365 days (well, minus a few days off for beer) of tasting wine. These wines made the cut because they rose to the top on the day I tasted them. Wine, like all things, has good days and bad days. I only wish I had space for the many other amazing wines I tasted this year. (Note: the list is in no particular order and prices vary.)
White Wine Value of the YEAR: 2014 Cowhorn Vineyard Spiral 36 Southern Oregon: This beguiling blend of viognier, roussanne, and marsanne yields a ripe and succulent wine with notes of hazelnuts and lemon cream. Tropical fruits on the palate with good acidity to keep things intriguing. Made from Demeter Certified Biodynamic and Stellar Certified Organic vineyards. Will age beautifully too, you’ll get a lot of wine for $28.
Cover of Sunset Magazine!

Sunset Magazine - October 2015

"The wine they [Cowhorn] make are elegant, earthy, and vibrant, with a sense of the soil they come from.”
Wine Spectator

Tuesday | October 6, 2015
"Southern Oregon's Cowhorn […] wines are exceptional—and largely unknown to a wider audience.”

- Matt Kramer, Wine Spectator, Drinking Out Loud.
Alan York, Nature's Own

By Thom Elkjer

Alan York was a sage of nature.
      His expertise with biodynamic agriculture came from decades working with plants and soil, and from study with past masters such as Alan Chadwick. The rest was pure Alan.
      I first heard his name during a visit to the McNab Ranch vineyard in Sonoma County that gave rise to Bonterra winery. It was the last day of Thanksgiving in 2000. After driving for an hour past leafless, bare-dirt vineyards exhausted from the year's cycle of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, it was stunning to see that McNab Ranch was a flower-filled, golden-leafed, bee- and bird-blessed paradise.
      What accounted for this astonishing difference? "Biodynamics", said winemaker Bob Blue. "And Alan York."
      At Cowhorn, we were immensely fortunate to have both - and to learn the difference between them. Biodynamic agriculture is a sublime way to farm, and Alan had his own sublime relationship with it, one that he took into the farm and our lives.
      It began on his first visit to the property, just weeks after escrow closed. It was a torrid summer day, and a hot wind coursed down the narrow valley. Standing under a shaky canopy in the middle of the future vineyard, we presented our timeline for planting, harvesting and selling wine. It was all worked out in comprehensive spreadsheets, year by year. All we had to do was follow the schedule.
      Alan smiled, as he often did before speaking, and said, "The fast way is the slow way."
      He meant that nature was going to tell us how long things would take, and we had better listen or we would have to do things twice - which would really blow up the spreadsheet.
      With his guidance we learned to slow down, read the signals from the land, and act accordingly. It took a little longer to realize that Alan himself wasn't just waiting around for signals. He was signaling nature right back.
      One of his communication channels was the biodynamic preparations, which are nature-based liquids that get sprayed onto plants or soil, or added to the compost pile. Most biodynamic farmers apply the preparations according to a schedule or the lunar calendar. For Alan, the preparations seemed more like a private telegraph system between him and the vines.
      This is one of the reasons our grape quality has increased every year despite a short growing window, a scary number of frost hours during the growing season, and more than 10 different clones in the vineyard. The vines know what they need to do. We know what they need from us. It's still a vibrant conversation.
      The only thing that has changed is that Alan is not physically a part of it now.
      He bravely gave up the fight to preserve his body from cancer early in 2014, knowing that a lot of great conversations he started are going to continue for generations. From Oregon to Chile to Italy, millions of meals and glasses of wine are going to enrich countless lives in ways no statistics or spreadsheets will ever explain, and Alan's inimitable wisdom will be in every mouthful.
      He will certainly live on in the Cowhorn vineyard and gardens.
      That first day, he looked up and down the property as the blasting wind shook the canopy and bent the sparse stalks of wild grass flat over baking sand and river rocks.
      "Well," he said, "this sure is someplace else, but now it's where we're all from. We've just got to learn the language."
      In truth, I think he already knew it, even before the vines went into the ground. Nature held Alan close, and he returned the embrace. May it ever be thus.
Worth Seeking Out

Tuesday | 3/31/2015
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate March 31st, 2015

"These are well worth seeking out and represent great value."

We are elated to announce that for the third consecutive year Robert Parker's Wine Advocate has awarded Cowhorn with 91+ point scores!

Although we know these scores are subjective, we use them to gauge our work through the opinions of those who are experts in their field.   When we are able to read such wonderful words written about us, it enhances our trust in our methods, and gives us confidence that our vineyard will continue to reward us with quality - regardless of how challenging a vintage may be.  After all, consistency is what every winery strives for.

The fact that Cowhorn has received sixteen 90+ point scores from the The Wine Advocate in just a handful of years is extremely rewarding, and it's true that the past has treated us well. However, our young vines promise you that the best is yet to come.   Thank you so much for your continued support.   We truly appreciate it.

2013 Marsanne Roussanne - 92 Points

2012 Grenache 20 - 91 Points

2011 Sentience Syrah - 91 Points

Supply very limited, purchase today for the best selection.
92 Points, Editor's Choice!

Wednesday | January 14, 2015

Wine Enthusiast's Sean Sullivan named our 2013 Viognier & 2013 Marsanne Roussanne as Editor's Choice! Both wines scored 92 points. See the February issue or their website for more reviews and details. All three wines are currently still available for purchase on our website.

Cowhorn 2013 Viognier, Applegate Valley, $35
92 Points, Editor’s Choice
Aged just three months in French oak (28% new), the wine focuses on the fruit, with rich notes of apricot, pear and tangerine. It’s full-bodied with sweet fruit flavors and a long, lingering, exquisitely fruit-filled finish. — S.S. (2/1/2015)

Cowhorn 2013 Marsanne Roussanne, Applegate Valley, $35
92 Points, Editor's Choice
A vibrantly aromatic wine with notes of apricot, toast, nutty spices and cream displaying both detail and complexity. The palate is full-bodied yet still shows restraint with fruit and smoky flavors that keep the interest level high through the lingering finish. — S.S. (2/1/2015)

Cowhorn 2013 Spiral 36, Applegate Valley, $28
91 Points
A blend of near-equal parts Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne, this is aromatic with notes of corn on the cob, dried apricot and tangerine. The palate is full-bodied with sweet apricot flavors and a smoky finish (20% new French oak). — S.S. (2/1/2015)

The Minimalist Grenache

Sip Column

Nature vs. Nurture
January 2015

By Sara Schneider

Six minimalist picks

Bonny Doon 2010 “Le Cigare Valant”
(Central Coast; $45)
Savory and earthy (violet notes excepted); plum and dusty berries layered with pepper, black olive, and cured meat.

Cowhorn 2012 Grenache 20
(Applegate Valley, Oregon; $45)
Tart red fruit – juicy Rainier cherries – with crushed herbs, white pepper, baking spices, and mocha.

Deovlet 2011 “Sonny Boy”
(Santa Barbara County; $40)
Earth, pepper, smoke, and mocha on the nose of this Merlot blend give way to cherry, violet, and fresh herbs.

Ser 2012 Cabernet Pfeffer
(Cienega Valley; $35)
Forget your Cabernet reference points – this rare variety is earthy and floral at once. Bright, spicy red fruit (cranberry, strawberry) gets a hit of pepper worthy of the name.

Siduri 2012 Pinot Noir
(Sonoma Coast; $32)
A velvet-packed palate of cherry, strawberry, and orange peel under intriguing cola and forest-floor aromas.

Sojourn 2012 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir
(Sonoma Coast; $54)
Loam and violet aromas lead to rambunctious cinnamon-cherry with hints of cola

Breaking Ground In Pursuit of Living Building ChallengeTM Certification

Monday | September 22, 2014
The intimate, energy-efficient space is a reflection of owners’ and customers’ values

We recently broke ground on two buildings designed to meet some of the world’s most stringent green building standards. Working with Green Hammer, an Oregon-based integrated design-build firm, we are following the Passive House standard and pursuing Living Building Challenge™ Petal Certification for a new 2,200-square-foot tasting room. Expected to be 70-90 percent more energy efficient than conventional construction, the tasting room utilizes Forest Stewardship Council®–certified wood, natural daylight and local materials free of harmful chemicals and toxins. Inspired by the Steeles’ personal connection to their wine club members, Green Hammer architect Erica Dunn, AIA, crafted an intimate space for visitors to explore Cowhorn’s award-winning wine.

The Cowhorn tasting room is one of about 20 projects in the state of Oregon to register with the Living Building Challenge, according to the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), which administers the challenge.

Additionally, we broke ground on a new 2,300-square-foot residence designed by award-winning Green Hammer architect, Jan Fillinger. Designed to meet the Passive House standard, the house will provide an inviting, energy-efficient retreat.

Wine Spectator Awards 2012 Viognier 2nd Highest Rating

Friday | 1 /10/2014

Our 2012 Viognier was awarded the second highest rating by Wine Spectator for a domestic Viognier in their latest review (available web-only

"2012 Cowhorn Vignier 92 points: Sleek, supple, inviting and distinctive, balancing richness with an open texture. Offers ginger- and lychee-accented pear and lemon flavors, lingering with the expansive finish. Drink now through 2017. 250 cases made. - Harvey Steiman"

Sunset's Best of the West #9

Friday, September 28, 2013

October 2013 issue

Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden

(Applegate Valley)

In a mini valley, this spot feels delightfully remote and as wild as its biodynamically grown wines. Try the 2009 Syrah 80 ($35), with an intriguing savage side; you'll find pepper, meat, leather, and spice under its juicy core of minted plum and berry fruit. $5 tasting fee; 1665 Eastside Rd., Jacksonville; cowhornwine.com

My Wines of the Year

Each year, Wine Spectator columnist Matt Kramer selects his favorite wines of the year. In the year end issue for 2012, Matt selected our 2011 Spiral 36 as one of his top three wines! Cowhorn is the only domestic producer selected and is noted for the excellence of all of our wines. As always, thank you for your support of Cowhorn, without which we would not be here to receive this honor.

Matt Kramer:
"Cowhorn Applegate Valley Spiral 36 2011 ($28). This small, biodynamic wine producer is located in a far-off spot in southern Oregon near the California border. Specializing in Rhone varieties, Cowhorn is, in my opinion, creating some of Oregon's finest wines - and yes, that includes the state's much applauded Pinot Noirs.

Spiral 36 is the proprietary name for a seamless dry white wine blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. More than most such blends, this one emerges as a classic sum-greater than its parts acheivement. Everyone to whom I've served this wine has been astonished at its zingy, refreshing, subtle flavor and texture. It shows, as does Cowhorn's supberb Syrah and excellent Grenache, a true vocation of place for these grapes in southern Oregon." December 31st, 2012

- Matt Kramer

In a complementary program, the Ashland Food Co-op, Southern Oregon’s first and only Certified Organic retailer, has partnered with COWHORN, the Rogue Wine Region’s first and only Certified Biodynamic® estate winery, to convert used corks into reusable, compostable wine packs guaranteed to contain a minimum of 99% recycled content.

» Read DailyTidings article