Let’s take care of it!
Is it sustainable, organic or biodynamic?
These descriptive words are used a lot in today’s world and are becoming universal in the wine world. They can be confusing but I always go back to my upbringing and Rachel Carlson’s book entitled ‘Silent Spring’.
While growing up on our family farm, my Dad and I shared many jobs but there was one duty he always said was his — the spraying of the cropland. This was during the days of DDT and I don’t know if he was worried about the terrible spray or if he thought I wasn’t able to properly do the job. Looking back in my memory, I think he did it because he knew the spray was doing its job but it was not good for us. The less exposure for his kids, the better.
Then, I read Rachel Carlson’s book and things began to add up to me. We were doing bad things to our land and to ourselves in the name of progress. That lesson has stayed with me.
The wine world is going through some interesting changes and we hear a lot about vineyards that are organic sustainable, biodynamic and, finally, just sustainable. What the heck is going on? Well…
One of the many things I’ve learned is to talk with the people who do the work — not the manger or marketer. So, when I visit a vineyard, I like to talk with the person who works the field — in many cases around here, the owner/manager is the person who works the field and that makes me feel good.
I feel good because I’m going to hear all sides of the story and I can get to know the vineyard and not just the people. Land is sacred to me. We depend on it for life and we must protect it. Today’s agriculture industry is learning that and here is when the three words mention above — organic sustainable, biodynamic and sustainable come into play.
There’s a lot of confusion what these three vineyard practices mean so let’s explore them a bit.
When a vineyard is organic sustainable, it means no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or any other chemicals are used on the ground. There are no sulfites added to the wine which means a shorter shelf life and the wine will not age as well. Therefore, the robust flavors that develop from aging will not occur and the wine’s taste will vary from bottle to bottle.
Biodynamic wines are similar to sustainable wines but the vintner uses very good soil health practices and must be in sync with the lunar cycles for best soil health. Vines get planted as a specific time and the grapes are harvested at a specific time of the year — interesting concept.
Sustainable wines continue with the practices mentioned above but the winery engages in environmental and socially responsible behavior. The wines may contain sulfites which allows them to age and have longer shelf lives. That means a full tasting and interesting wine.
What does this mean to us as wine consumers?
Well, it gives us a choice to decide where we stand on the protection of our land scale. How interested are you in protecting the land and what are you willing to do to further that protection?
The answers are within you.
Many wineries are delving into better environmental practices and Kendall-Jackson is one of them. They practice sustainable agriculture and produce some very good wines such as their Jackson Estate Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It carries a rather hefty price tag but the taste is wonderfully rich and full of black cherries. It’s bold and enticing.
Kendall-Jackson’s Avant Chardonnay is also a very good wine. The price gets more acceptable and it’s lively fruity taste and crisp finish will please you.
I like an Alamos Malbec. It’s produced sustainably and has the very bold taste, aroma and dry finish you expect from a good Malbec. And, it carries a very reasonable price tag.
California’s Pacificana wines are produced respecting the soil and I especially like their Zinfandel. It has great depth of taste and a nice cross section on fruit and spice to please your palate.
A wine from Benzinger Winery is always welcome. No matter the color or taste spectrum the wines are made respecting the land and have very good price lines.
I urge you to research your wine purchase and go with the wineries that are doing good wines and doing good things for our world. We only have one world and all of us need to take care of it.
As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!