sinskey goats

Robert Sinskey Vineyards doesn’t have the storied history that some other California wineries have – it’s only been around for about 20 years. Still it has become one the most-respected biodynamic growers in the business in that time (they switched to biodynamic and organic practices in 1991), and they produce some excellent bottles.

These wines are not cheap, most falling the $30 range, but they are popular, many fans finding them well worth the price. Sinskey produces a wide range of wines, including pinot gris, gewürztraminer, riesling, and pinot blanc. The popular favorites, though, are cabernet and pinot noir. The vineyard’s terroir makes the grape varieties possible.

Two hundred acres of growing land are in one climate and five are in another, warmer one, good for growing totally different grapes. The winery is built into the hillside, so lurking beneath these disparate climates are over 18,000 square feet of caves housing the wine barrels.

Back on land, the vineyards are organic and certified biodynamic, which means no pesticides or artificial additives. Biodynamic farmers also use their own plants for compost and schedule their plantings based on the moon, with the goal of being as in tune with nature as possible. The business has become 75% self-sufficient, and that’s not just due to organic grapes. The tractors run on biodiesel, native plants are used as crop cover, and wherever possible animals are used to turn over the land, rather than machines: there are plenty of chickens and goats running around the property, just doing their thing.

It makes for quite a bucolic scene. The vineyard gets a lot of tourists, even though it’s on the Silverado Trail, the less-visited part of Napa Valley. Robert Sinskey himself is a big fan of wine and food pairings, so tours and on-site tastings pair each wine with a few bites of home-cooked food, if not an entire cheese and charcuterie spread. Even if you can’t make a wine-country visit, buy a bottle of Sinskey, a little artisanal cheese…recreate the experience at home.

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