Do you know as much about what you drink as you do about what you eat? Many foodies consider themselves to be connoisseurs of wine, though what they are swirling contains additives that they would never find acceptable in their food. If you don’t know your wine maker then you don’t know what is in your wine, because currently there are no ingredients labeling requirements in the industry.
As the practices of industrial wine producers come to light, awareness is growing about wine that is produced sustainably, organically, and bio-dynamically. Winemakers who embrace the art of viticulture vs. the technology are still in the minority, but there are many good choices if you either align yourself with a wise sommelier like Chris Woodrow, the Vinmaster, or do a little research.
In a culture that values consistent product, bio-dynamically produced wines are anything but. Because chemical inputs are shunned, they vary greatly from vintage to vintage. During his recent trip to Charlotte I had the opportunity to share a front porch visit with Tony Coturri to hear more firsthand about his legendary wine making. His wines have but one ingredient: grapes. Fermented with natural yeast. A novel concept? It shouldn’t be but it is the exception rather than the norm.
In North Carolina there are many wineries farming grapes and doing so with great success. The climate here makes dealing with rot a challenge, but several wineries have sustainable operations, including McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks and Carolina Heritage Vineyard and Winery. Owl’s Eye and RagApple Lassie are also very good choices. Sustainability in wine making can mean lots of different things, including considerate water use and packaging, or using solar energy. But at the end of the day, what is in the bottle matters most.
Sipping wine is such a civilized thing to do. It’s important to make choices that protect the environment too. I’ll drink to that.