San Diego Wine Guy: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club goes green with Bonterra


The only thing that may be greener than the grass at the Del Mar racetrack is the featured wine that will be served at the Pacific Classic.

Bonterra winery, a certified organic producer, is supplying the chardonnay now throughout the Aug. 24 Pacific Classic.

Going green is now more hip than ever, but Bonterra has long believed in organic practices. In fact, the vineyards have been certified organic for more than 15 years. Its grapes are grown without the use of artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemicals. This builds a living soil that encourages natural pest/predator balance. By fostering the health of the soil, Bonterra believes the plant will in turn be healthier, and therefore produce better fruit for winemaking.

Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a USDA accredited certifier inspects the vineyard to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Assisting the USDA is the California Certified Organic Farmers. CCOF promotes and supports organic food and agriculture through their certification program, trade support and other traditional trade association activities.

Organic grape production is much more than simply replacing chemical fertilizers with natural ones. CCOF producers implement a wide range of strategies to develop and maintain biological diversity and replenish soil fertility naturally. Bonterra controls insects and other vineyard pests in their vineyards by erecting birdhouses around their property and even releases their free-range chickens throughout the vineyards each morning to fertilize the land.

These organic practices have been paying off for Bonterra Winery as accolades have been pouring in from critics and competitions.

The 2006 Bonterra Chardonnay received 89 points from the Wine Enthusiast and a silver medal at the 2008 California State Fair Wine Competition. Its other varietals have fared just as well - 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (Gold, Los Angeles Wine and Spirits Competition), the 2006 Sauvignon Blanc (Gold, Best of Class, Los Angeles Wine and Spirits Competition) and the 2006 Viognier (Best of Class, 2008 California State Fair Wine Competition).

Additionally, Bonterra was named “Value Brand of the Year” in 2007 by Wine and Spirits Magazine.

Though the Bonterra winery is not open for public tastings, its wines are widely available to greater San Diego residents. Look for them at local Beverages and More stores as well as at Vons. Though each varietal has a different price point, they all can usually be found for $15 or less.


2006 Bonterra Chardonnay

13.6% alcohol, Silver Medal, California State Fair Wine Competition

Winemaker Bob Blue describes the 2006 Bonterra Chardonnay as one that “has firmly adopted a style some describe as international, with less oak aging and a deliberate attempt to emphasize the freshness and crispness of our stellar organic fruit from Mendocino County. Most of the grapes for Bonterra’s Chardonnay are harvested along a 12-mile corridor near the banks of the Russian River, and year after year offer characteristic green apple, baked apple, pear and citrus notes in the wine. The wine is refreshing on the palate, with a minerality that is both bright and clean.”