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An Oregon Winery Surrenders to Life

Breathing techniques and meditation practices, as well as organic and biodynamic wines, can help people manage their condition

Vineyards at Cooper Mountain Credit Cooper Mountain Vineyards

What does it mean to have a life worth living? Does it mean we work on it, shape it, nurture it, and try to make the world a better place? Yes to all of those things but it can be exhausting to try to control it every second of the day; sometimes we fall into a dark spiral downwards when it doesn’t live up to expectations. Like some Oregon wine producers, sometimes it is better to surrender to the mysteries of life.

I don’t believe in subscribing to any type of dogma. I feel it is dangerous and it keeps us from being challenged in the ways that will guide us back to balance. Many years ago, I attended a holistic workshop for yoga teachers – yes, at one time I used to teach yoga. This workshop was meant to walk us through various types of diseases and to teach assorted types of poses, breathing techniques and/or meditation practices to help people manage their condition. Some may argue that it is a waste of time to use such holistic applications, and alternatively, there are those who feel it is the only way to live… such as those wineries that have become organic and biodynamic.

Cooper Mountain Vineyard Photo Credit Cooper Mountain Vineyards

Cooper Mountain Vineyards

A few weeks back, I was sent wines from Cooper Mountain Vineyards in Oregon. In 1978, Dr. Robert Gross and his wife Corrine planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes on the slopes of an ancient volcano called Cooper Mountain. In the 1990s, French biodynamic winemaker Nicolas Joly –known as the father of biodynamic winemaking – visited Dr. Gross to assess the health of his vineyards and told him, “You have forgotten your legs while standing in the Vitruvian Man pose.”

Image of Vitruvian Man on Top of Cooper Mountain Vineyards Cork

Vitruvian Man is Leonardo da Vinci‘s own thoughts about human proportion and architecture illustrated through words and an image. The purpose of the illustration is to bring together ideas about art, architecture, human anatomy and symmetry in one distinct and commanding image. Nicolas Joly’s comment to Dr. Gross was referring to the absence of life in the soil surrounding the vines’ root systems.

Dr. Gross, who already had a strong interest in homeopathy and acupuncture, was inspired by Joly’s words to delve into holistic agriculture which resulted in Cooper Mountain Vineyards becoming organic in 1995 and Demeter Biodynamic certified in 1999. 


Reading about Dr. Gross and his wife’s beliefs in the power of alternative medicine reminded me of those times when my world centered on trying to bring some peace to those stricken with the disease. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that many times the best course of treatment is to go to a hospital and receive modern treatments, and no one should promise to cure anyone of a disease with yoga, but it can give those in turmoil a brief sense of tranquility.

Vineyards at Cooper Mountain Photo Credit Cooper Mountain Vineyards

During that time, I had a conversation with a yoga student suffering from cancer who was taking a yoga class for people “living with dis-ease”. She told me that living with “dis-ease” didn’t necessarily mean that one is physically sick, but it can mean that a person is not at ease with himself/herself, and she was happy that, through taking yoga and meditation classes, she was able to find those moments of ease that she had never found, even when she was physically healthy.

At that moment, I realized that woman was living with more ease than I was, and our vitality, our life force, cannot be assessed just by numbers and statistics, that there is something that cannot be fully explained that goes beyond our modern checklist.

So much pain and lack of ease, caused by thinking that any deviation we have from what is deemed as a conventional life is supposed to be mourned, as opposed to trying to find the beauty of the energy in everything that comes and goes. That is what makes wines such as Cooper Mountain Vineyards a unique tasting experience… because they surrender to what life gives them.  

Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Life, Pinot Noir

Cathrine’s Recommendations

Everyday Drinking Wine (less than $15)

NV Underwood Rosé, Oregon ($7 for 375ml can or $14 for 750ml bottle): Blend of Pinot Gris, Syrah and Pinot Noir from Oregon. In general, Oregon wines are not expensive and the producer of Underwood wines, Union Wine Co., has set out to offer Oregon wines made from Oregon grapes that will not break the bank. And the Underwood series offers wines in regular 750ml glass bottles or 375ml aluminum cans. Now you may be thinking, “what serious wine connoisseur would try wine from a can,” well, this one! There are all types of wine for all types of occasions and I would rather see people drinking a fun, easy drinking wine from a can at a picnic or BBQ that helps to support grape growers in Oregon than a canned alcoholic beverage from a huge conglomerate. So everything is relative. This rosé is not too sweet and not too dry and has the right amount of generous fruit flavor (strawberry pie and lemon confit) and bright acidity. Also, it is environmentally friendly with lighter packaging and cans are recycled at a higher rate than glass. And the modern liners in aluminum cans prevent metal flavors from leaching into the wine. Still not convinced? Well, there is the bottle version for only $14 and it is a crowd pleaser for wine drinkers and non-drinkers alike – a great summer party wine!

Troon Vineyard Sangiovese

Special Occasion Wine (from $15 to $50)

2016 Troon Vineyard, Sangiovese, Kubli Bench Estate, Applegate Valley, Oregon ($25): Mainly Sangiovese co-fermented with a small percentage of Syrah which they say adds a bit of structure and enhanced aromatics. Although Troon uses organic practices, they are pursuing their organic and biodynamic certifications. This wine has flavors of sour red cherry and a bitter finish that I love with classic Italian Sangiovese, yet it is a little bit more filled out with elegant structure and added blackberry fleshy fruit. The nose is gorgeous with rose petal and dusty earthy and the finish has a lot of bite – perfect with Italian cheese and cured meats. Only 194 cases produced.

Fantasy Wine (over $50)

2016 Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Life, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($40): 100% Pinot Noir from the Meadowlark and Johnson School Vineyards. Organic and Biodynamic Certified. No added sulfites. No, this is not over $50 but, once in a while, I like to recommend a wine that delivers at that price but in reality, costs less. I like the combination of juicy black cherry fruit and marked acidity with layers of complexity such as smoldering earth, undergrowth and an exciting saline minerality that carried along the strikingly long finish.

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