ALAN YORK - International Biodynamic Consultant
Alan York is a gardener at heart. The gardens he tends give life to millions of plants, insects and birds; span two continents and hundreds of acres. Every grapevine in his care is nurtured as if it were one of a kind. Given his appreciation for site-specific farming, this is the only way he knows to grow wine.
York’s attentive approach to farming was inspired more than three decades ago, when he read a lecture series called Agriculture Course, by Rudolf Steiner, the father of Biodynamic® farming.
His exploration of Biodynamics began in the 1970s, at a time when organized organic agriculture had not yet taken root. He studied botany and plant physiology, and secured an apprenticeship with Alan Chadwick, creator of the Covelo, California - based Round Valley Institute for the Study of Man and Nature—then the world’s largest Biodynamic farming center. After three years of intense education, York took a horticulture teaching position at Mercy College in Michigan.
In the 1980s York moved to Missouri, where he became director of a 1,000-acre farm. York and the farm’s owner would later start a Biodynamic apple orchard in Booneville, California. By the early 1990s, York became president of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association of North America for a four-year term, and editor of the Association’s magazine.
York came to Sonoma Mountain in 1997 to collaborate with Mike Benziger, and found a friend and brother in Biodynamic farming. Together, they approached the cultivation of Benziger’s Sonoma Mountain estate with the belief that a vineyard farmed with a mental, physical and spiritual commitment is the best way to create wine that reveals a profound sense of place and the passion of the winegrowing team. Today, York oversees Biodynamic farming on Benziger’s four certified-Biodynamic vineyard estates.
Consulting for winegrape growers in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, as well as vineyards in Oregon, New York, Chile and Israel, York approaches Biodynamic winegrowing with a global perspective. He and Mike Benziger are currently working with Nicholas Joly, France’s leading proponent of Biodynamic farming, to promote the Charter of Quality, an international group of leading Biodynamic growers. Additionally, York is a recognized international expert on Biodynamic farming, lecturer, author and member of the board of directors of the Biodynamic Trade Association.