Monday, November 26, 2007

Bottoms Up!

We are lucky enough to live a hop skip and a jump (well, we still have to drive the car but not that far) from Napa Valley and spent the latter part of Thanksgiving weekend there. For the most part, we enjoyed the beautiful views, took some very peaceful nature walks, and the kids rode their bikes and scooters. And, I'm happy to report that, other than food, we succeed in buying nothing on Buy Nothing Day.

On Saturday, however, we visited a few of the local organic wineries. The vineyards, themselves, are beautiful this time of year with the last vestiges of fall hanging on. The birds and bees flit from vine to vine and the colorful mustard cover crops planted in between. The solar panels atop the restored barns glint in the sunlight.

Did you know that many vintners have adopted sustainable, organic practices in the last ten years? 18% of California's certified organic vineyards are found here in Napa Valley and that percentage is increasing every year. Some advertise it right on the bottle like Parducci, which my husband picked up at Trader Joes. It is apparently very difficult, however, to have wine itself certified organic because the USDA prohibits added sulfites and many vintners claim you can't produce a good bottle of wine without adding sulfur dioxide in the fermenting process.

That said, you can find many a delicious bottle of wine produced from organic grapes and grown from a vineyard that uses sustainable or biodynamnic practices. As you can't rely on the bottle for determining what is "green wine", it pays to do a bit of research first. The following are some well known, delicious Napa wines which also happen to be organic and from sustainable vineyards: Charles Krug, Grgich Hills, Mason Cellars, and Rubicon Estates.
But if Napa isn't the only place wine is produced. There are wineries tucked all over the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Check out some wines produced locally to you - use it as an excuse. Someone has to taste all these to find the best bottle for the holidays. ;-)


CindyW said...

I love Grgich Hills - don't they go a few steps beyond organic and are bio-dynamic? I have this weird perception (probably not true) that the reasons many organic/bio-dynamic wineries don't put it on their label are 1) they want to win over people for the wines, not the label; 2) more important features to advertise on that small piece of real estate than the organic label. I am probably wrong, but cheers to good wines!

Green Bean said...

Yes, Grgich Hills is very very committed to biodynamnic princples. Biodynamics goes beyond organic and reminds me a bit of the permaculture concept though I have only a very rudimentary understanding of both. Here's a great article about Grgich Hills and it's commitment to farming in harmony with the earth.

Their wine is a bit pricey but well worth it and, as we all know, price is not just in money. It may be cheaper to buy a non-organic wine (or not! check out Rubicon Estates) but we all pay the price eventually in terms of agricultural practices that erode the soil, posion the water, disturb ecosystems and ultimately damage this planet we call home.

And, I agree with you. I think most wineries want you to buy the wine because it tastes good - not because they are doing the right thing by the planet. Fortunately, those two things often go together and, as the article in the link above explains, growing grapes biodynamically leads to a tastier bottle of wine.

Salute! Or Here's mud in your eye!

Green Bean said...

Oops, the whole link didn't come through. Here it is - worth a read if you are interested in ecologically friendly wine.

jennconspiracy said...

I smell a Bay Area green blogger wine tasting trip coming up...


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