A vintner’s take on organically grown wine - Robert & Maria Sinskey of Robert Sinskey Vineyards
By MANDY MURRY
It is not often an entire wine dinner is centered around organically grown wine, even more rare is to have the vintners, one a chef, sharing their crafts. Robert and (Chef) Maria of Robert Sinskey Vineyards practice both organic and biodynamic farming practices and work with nature- walking, seeing, feeling, and sensing the vineyards. They don’t do it for hype or press, but because it is, “the right thing to do.”
In 1990, Robert Sinskey Vineyards started farming organically, due to the cement-like soil Robert encountered on their land. “When I could not find a living earthworm, I knew we needed a change.” Robert’s father had farmed using traditional techniques- including pesticides and herbicides. In doing the research for organic farming, the Sinskey’s discovered all of their favorite wines were organic, and soon found out why.
The Sinskey’s believe, “farming forms everything.” Most of the hard work is in farming techniques. “You typically can’t have a cheap wine and it be good for you,” Maria stated. “You are what you drink.” The Sinskey’s have chosen not to use herbicides and pesticides, as it breaks the balance of nature. The use of techniques that destroy the environment, not only change the microbial activity in the soil, it is harmful to humans too. There are carcinogens not only in the chemicals but in the waters that run downstream. “We believe in a symbiotic relationship- working together with, versus against nature.”
Many think of organic wine as pure or natural, or the solution to an allergy problem they have developed. For the Sinskey’s organically grown wine is about protecting the planet, the workers, and farming more intelligently. Herbicides are allowed in sustainable farming. “Certified organic does not allow herbicides but the newer, diluted, and confusing ‘Certified Sustainable’ does. We feel this is wrong and misleading as herbicide use breaks the cycle of nature and destroys the tilth of the soil.” All plants have a natural immune system and the need for healthy soils. When chemicals are used, it changes the properties and structure of the soil. Healthy soil and access to good nutrients are vital to the growth of any crop- grapes or otherwise.
In producing their luxury wines, the Sinskey’s believe in nourishment. “Follow nature and the rest will come,” both Maria and Robert stated. “Every year you take what the soil and vine give you with what the sky and weather give. Our job is to be the simplest, cleanest conduit in the soil to glass transfer.”
It is the symbiotic relationship with nature that inspires their wine, not the idea of wine allergies. So, let’s touch on that a bit. Robert’s view on wine allergies, as he is allergic to sulfur, “Most people do not have a problem with sulfur if the wine has less than 100 parts per million, I do not. There are organic wines out there that have naturally occurred 100 parts per million sulfur content, so organic wine is not necessarily the fix all with wine allergies. Some vineyards are picking fruit that is riper and riper, and that time can be part of the problem.” Other wine-related allergies are associated with histamines. If you flush or get headaches, it is usually not from the sulfur, a histamine reaction is more likely.
Robert Sinskey Vineyards and Sommelier Nick Demos teamed up with Snowbird Mountain Lodge as part of their exclusive wine dinner events earlier in the spring. Excellent food and wine, supporting local organic farms, and having little waste is something all parties consider a passion. If you missed the 2020 event, the Sinskey’s and Demos will be returning to Snowbird Mountain Lodge for another organic wine dinner in March 2021.
Snowbird Mountain Lodge 2020 Wine Dinner Events
June 20, Champagne Pairing Dinner w/ Sommelier Nick Demos, 6:00 - 9:00 pm
August 15, Wine Dinner w/ Sommelier Nick Demos, 6:00 - 9:00 pm
September 19, Wine Dinner w/ Sommelier Nick Demos, 6:00 - 9:00 pm
November 13, Wine Dinner w/ Sommelier John McCune, 6:00 - 9:00 pm
November 14, Wine Dinner w/ Sommelier John McCune, 6:00 - 9:00 pm
March 13, 2021, Wine Dinner w/ Sommelier Nick Demos and Vintner’s Maria and Robert Sinskey
Sinskey Wines on the plateau
Highlands - Retail
Bryson’s Food Store
Highlands Wine Shoppe
Highlands - Restaurant
Old Edwards Inn (Madison’s & Wine Garden)
On the Verandah
Bridge at Mill Creek
Cashiers - Retail
The Wine Cellar of Cashiers
Cashiers - Restaurant
Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley