View Archive The Sixteen 600 Blog By Sam Coturri

Category - CSV,Phil Sent Me,Dos Limones,organic,cover crop
Posted - 11/11/2014 11:25pm
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Community Supported Viticulture
In 1978, when Phil Coturri began the converting Dos Limones Vineyard to certified organic, he couldn’t turn to any organic grape growing resources for advice, there weren’t any yet.

His peers were in the organic vegetable world. Bob Cannard was converting a neighboring property from an overworked turkey farm into the lush organic garden that would eventually supply Chez Panise. Amigo Contisano and company had just established their first organic standards at CCOF a few years before.  Phil had to adapt organic farming practices to work in the vineyard.

Winter cover crops took the place of crop rotation and fallow fields. Compost tea was injected into the drip irrigation instead of the sprinkler system. He used shovels and hoes to clear the space around the vines in the same way Bob or Amigo would have prepped for a row crop; eliminating the use of glyphosphate (brandname rhymes with BoundCup) in the vineyard. So as organic agriculture developed so did organic viticulture.

However, the correlation between vegetable gardens and vineyards ended once the respective crops were harvested. Grapes go to a winery where it will take anywhere from several months to a few years to become a finished product. For the most part, vegetables are a finished product the minute they are picked and need to reach their final destination ASAP. Supplying restaurants and other retail outlets is always important, but those first organic vegetable growers knew they wanted to establish a direct connection from the farm the plate; a relationship between the farmer and the consumer.

This desire spawned a dual revolution in how people get their vegetables- Farmers’ Markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes. This gave consumers the best access to the freshest, seasonal organic produce and a chance to connect a face to the farm.

As Phil perfected his grape growing practices that direct connection became more than a ethos or an esoteric notion. Phil, and the dozens of winemakers he works with, discovered that the grapes he grew made wines that distinctly reflected the terroir of the vineyards were they grew. His attention to detail in the vineyard led to an exactness of flavors in the wine. Enlivened soils and robust ecological harmony creates bold lively wine that retains balance. Phil's farming created a direct connection from the vineyard to the wine drinker that could be bottled and saved for decades. Winery Sixteen 600 was founded with a similar desire, to create a direct connection from the vineyard to the wine glass. Sixteen 600's distinct, terroir-driven, single-vineyard wines epitomize the relation ship between the farmer and the wine he produces.

When seeking a way to bring that relationship to YOUR wine glass we created our version of the CSA box. Community Supported Viticulture allows you to join a community that simple knows that it takes great grapes to make great wine.

Our twice yearly (spring and fall) Phil Sent Me CSV boxes will include Phil’s selection of current releases, essentially our fresh produce. There are a few different CSV membership variations: Winegrower’s Choice includes 6 bottles for $270 plus shipping, Winegrower’s Select is 12 bottles for $540 shipping included. For the third version, Winegrower’s Reserve, members select their own mix case, priced according to the selection with shipping included.

Phil Sent Me CSV membership will include annual pick-up parties, premier access to special release wines and olive oil, free private tours and tastings and other benefits.

Joining is easy, simply order your first CSV box and you are in. The first box will ship immediately.

Community Supported Viticulture

Phil pruning at Dos Limones circa 2013

Phil (and Sam) pruning circa 1984

Our first Moon Mountain District label

Phil in the cellar

A Moon Mountain District tour with Phil

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Category - Organic,Farming,Vineyard,Cover Crop,Hawks
Posted - 03/23/2013 05:22pm
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Vineyards and the Environment

 Last week the New York Times ran an article discussing the effects of climate change on wine growing. This angle of the climate change story has been addressed before. The general consensus is that as the climate patterns change so will the regions suitable for wine production. In fact, as Times article points out, this is already happening with vineyards popping up in places previously too cold and inhospitable for vineyards.


However, this article took a different angle, asking what ecological effects these vineyards will have on their new locations “Vineyards have long-lasting effects on habitat quality. In addition to introducing sterilizing chemicals and fertilizer, mature vineyards 'have low habitat value' for native species “and are visited more often by nonnative species.”

Red-tailed Hawk. Native Species

Needless to say, global warming and climate change are much bigger issues than can ever be solved on a winery's blog. And we at Sixteen 600 would be the first to admit that worrying about where we're gonna get our wine from should be pretty low on our list when it comes to things to worry about with a changing climate. However, "long-lasting effects on habitat" and "introducing sterilizing chemicals"? That's an issue we have a lot to say about.


It's great that the New York Times and others are concerned about the ecosystems and water supplies of potential future wine growing regions but where's the concern about current wine growing regions? Conventionally farmed vineyards, like most any commercial agriculture, are hard on the environment around them. There is a lack of biodiversity, they scare off native species-both flora and fauna, chemical fertilizers and pesticides escape into the air, ground and water. Instead of worrying about the impact of vineyards in the future, let's focus on the vineyards of the present. Unlike most crops, grapes are a long-term commitment, it's up to the farmers to be as committed to the ecosystem around the vineyards as they are to the vines themselves.
Phil Coturri has always viewed himself as steward of the land, and his farming methods are dictated by that philosophy on a daily basis. The intensive cover crop program, the insectaries full of native plants, habitat for beneficial insects, the bird boxes and hawk perches are all ways to break the monoculture of the modern vineyard. These practices invite native species into the vineyard in a balanced way. On top of that, Phil hasn't applied a chemical pesticide or fertilizer in vineyard since the Ford Administration. The bottom line is vineyards and ecological balance don't have to be mutually exclusive. In fact Phil's career and Sixteen 600 Wines are a testament to ecological harmony in the vineyard will lead to balance in the wineglass.
A hawk perch

So if you're worried about climate change, we don't blame you, but as long as you're drinking Sixteen 600, you won't have to worry about your wine's effects on "habitat quality."

Habitat quality

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