Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

A Donkey & Goat goes to VinNatur

By Jessica Yadegaran
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 at 4:33 pm in Corkheads.

Donkey & Goat wines

OK, proud East Bay moment. Winemakers and proprietors Jared and Tracey Brandt of A Donkey & Goat Winery in Berkeley will be the only Americans at the 7th Annual VinNatur in Italy this April.

VinNatur is among Europe’s largest gatherings of natural winemakers. This year, the Brandts, who specialize in Chardonnay and Rhone varietals, will join  more than 100 winemakers from nine countries to share ideas and practices.

And, you won’t see a Mega-Purple stained shirt in the bunch.

Natural winemakers believe in hands-off, terroir-driven winemaking over the chemicals and wizardry that are taking place more and more often behind cellar doors. In the United States and other New World regions, the idea is taking off as chic, but in many older wine regions, like Alsace and Burgundy, it is simply tradition.

The Brandts implement a lot of these techniques, including adding ver jus (unripe grapes) to Chardonnay for acidity; minimizing sulphur, and staying away from cultivated yeasts, fining and filtration. They learned natural winemaking from Eric Texier in the northern Rhone Valley.

To see the Brandts off and taste their latest vintage of naturally made  wines, check out their spring open house from 1 to 5 p.m. March 20 at the A Donkey & Goat Winery, 2323B 4th St., Berkeley. Admission is $20 in advance and $30 at the door.

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