Taste and Talk: Organic and Biodynamic Wines at Ehlers Estate

Our Experience with #EhlersLove

Photo Credit: Ehlers Estate
Earlier this year (yes, I’m a little late), #WiningHourChat decided to feature some organic, biodynamic and sustainable wineries.  Ehlers Estate, located in St. Helena California, of course, was a priority. “The story of Ehlers Estate is one of passion, patience, and hard work, intertwined like the tendrils of robust vines that have been part of the landscape here since the mid-1800s.” We could not wait to hear more about their story.
We were able to converse with Elizabeth Smith, the social media and wine club manager at Ehlers Estate. It was a basic Q & A format with the winery and our #WiningHourChat participants.  Here’s a recap of what we learned: 

WiningHourChat: Can you please share a little about the history of Ehlers Estate and the winery itself?

Photo Credit: Ehlers Estate
Ehlers Estate: The Estate was Founded in 1886 by Bernard Ehlers. It changed hands a few times due to bootleggers during Prohibition! A century later, Jean and Sylviane Leducq culled together a 42-acre estate, including the original Ehlers Estate. It took the Leducqs 14 years to put together today’s estate. We have 39 acres planted and also an olive grove. The olive grove also dates back to 1886 and still produces fruit for our estate olive oil. We are biodynamic and certified organic. We do not source fruit or outsource work. Everything is done in-house. Although this is more expensive, it is a natural approach to wine-growing. 

Photo Credit: Ehlers Estate

WiningHourChat: Wow, that’s fantastic! I know the natural approach is no easy feat.  What are some of Ehlers biodynamic farming practices?

Ehlers Estate: We are 100% organic. So, use of biodynamic preps in the vineyard (#500 the horn manure and the #501 silica), timing of our vineyard practices with the #biodynamic calendar, creating our own compost with the #biodynamic preps.  Maintaining diversity on the property with insectaries, hedgerows, orchards and gardens, incorporating animals and wildlife whereever we can with chickens, blue bird boxes and more. Wine-making originates in the vineyard. Everything is organically farmed, with minimal human intervention.  The fruit and the land speak.  We are uniquely located at the pinch between the Mayacamas & Vaca Mountains with loamy, benchland soils.

WiningHourChat: That’s fantastic, and I’m sure its a big undertaking. I love the holistic approach!

Ehlers Estate: We have a year-around, full-time vineyard crew. It makes all the difference, as it is definitely hands-on! All employees have their own vines…even me! The vineyards are 100% hand-harvested. All of us do harvest at least one day! We are organic, biodynamic, sustainable, and green!

WiningHourChat: So when I(we) drink Ehlers Estate wines, we are really saving the earth! ?Can’t beat that. Love it!

Photo Credit: Ehlers Estate

Some inquired about your logo, and we see that the logo is an E, with a heart. Hence, “Ehlers Love!” Ahh…we see now.

Ehlers Estate Logo

Tell us, which varietals are produced Ehlers Estate?

Ehlers Estate: Only Bordeaux varietal wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc. We make eight wines: three Cabs, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Franc Rose, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Photo Credit: Ehlers Estate

#WiningHourChat’s Ehler Estate Wine Tasting

WiningHourChat: We also see that making wines that ‘express your terroir’ is the goal. In that vein, we tasted Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc, which is beautiful, structured, firm & compelling. It is a deep garnet color and smelled of raspberry, cola & bell pepper aromas.  This CabFranc is velvety smooth, with notes of black cherry, vanilla, chocolate and leather. I enjoyed this one with a chuck steak & zucchini. Yum and Yum.  An outstanding Cabernet Franc. 

How is is made? Vinification?

Ehlers Estate: It is 100% Cabernet Franc. Aged for 22 months, 50% new, 50% once-used oak. Native yeast fermentation in stainless steel.

WiningHourChat: Ehlers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a Bordeaux style Cab. How so?
Ehlers Estate: Our Cabernet and our 1886 Cabernet are left-bank style Bordeaux blends. The Cab is 83% Cab, 9% Merlot, 8% Cab Franc. The 1886 Cabernet is 85% Cab, 8% Cab Franc, 5% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot.

Cara (@CaraMiaSG) really enjoyed this one. “I’m tasting @EhlersEstate’s 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. 100% delicious ? #EhlersLove”

WiningHourChat: We also tasted your Merlot.  How does Ehlers Estate Merlot express the Bale Mill Terroir?

Maggie’s (@winegal57) experience with Ehlers Merlot was a first time.  She remarked that “It’s Luscious! This Merlot tastes of luscious licorice, black raspberries, red currants and cappuccino.  It’s dark, bold and juicy.”  Maggie enjoyed her Merlot with pizza.

We were honored to have had Ehlers Estate on #WiningHourChat. Our participants were delighted to learn more about EhlersLove and about their organic, biodynamic and sustainable wines. If you haven’t tasted #EhlersLove yet, what are you waiting for? Check out Ehlers Estates.

*In order to use the “organic” label, certification by an organization such as California Certified Organic Farmers or CCOF is needed.  Organic farms or wineries would not use any synthetics, or any artificial fungicides, herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers.  Grapes are grown organically, without the use of sulfites, even though these are naturally occurring to an extent.  Biodynamic farming refers to self-sustaining, self-sufficient farming methods, or methods that are in-tuned with nature. Characteristics of biodynamic farming include the integration of plants, and livestock into the process, by means of composts, herbs, manure, etc.  Anyone can incorporate biodiversity, but to have the “biodynamic” label, certification by Demeter is necessary.  Lastly, sustainable or sustainably farmed focuses on three things: giving back to the environment, economic profitability and minimal use of synthetic materials.  Sustainable farming methods may include organic and/or biodynamic wine-growing or wine-making techniques.

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Planted, harvested and aged in NY. I have a background in education and marketing, with a love and passion for travel...and all things wine. In addition to writing about wine, I also maintain an online wine boutique (thewininghour.com) that caters to the winelover, as well as the weekly vinous winechat (#WiningHourChat) on Twitter (see page for more info).

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