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Sustainable Wine Review: Beyond Organic

28 Jan

Barra of Mendocino (CA) farms 200+ acres of certified organic grapes.

This is the first post in a weekly series on sustainable wines.

According to the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), 1,500 vintners and growers in our great state have participated in sustainable winegrowing programs, representing 60% of California’s wine production and winegrape acreage.  Its fair to say that sustainability in the wine industry is no longer the exception, but rather the rule.

For many folks, the first thing they think of when talking about sustainability and wine is organic grapes.  While this is a very logical place to start, sustainability in the wine industry encompasses so much more.

To one producer it means organic grapes, to another it means water conservation, to another it means minimizing packaging to another it means triple bottom line. Those of us who want to eat and drink better want to know how to sort it all out.  Hence, the birth of this series. And since it means so many things to so many people, it seems to make sense to layout the ground rules. To spell it out, we are going to be talking about sustainable wines that embrace all or some of the following sustainable practices:

Grapes: The two most consumer-recognizable farming practices for grapes are organic (which is a USDA certification) and biodynamic (a third-party non-profit certification). Every day more producers are embracing organic and biodynamic farming practices.

Water Use: Wine is an agricultural product and no one better than a farmer understands the importance of water conservation. Many vineyards are focusing on using low-water-use, high-efficiency equipment, making strategic use of water for irrigation, selecting rootstocks and employing viticulture practices that reduce water consumption and reducing the amount of water used in cleaning.

Energy efficiency: You can be sure, like all other businesses around the globe, wine producers are looking for sure energy savers and larger energy efficiency opportunities. The CSWA reports that over the last four years, 359 energy-efficiency projects resulted in California wineries eliminating 30,371 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the equivalent of removing 4,226 cars off the road for one year. Practices include everything from solar projects, high-efficiency lighting and insulated wine tanks to gravity flow designs for movement of the grapes and efficient wastewater treatment systems.

Packaging and Transportation: I know you’re thinking packaging and transportation.  But, truthfully, the way a product is packaged matters a lot environmentally. We will find wineries that use packaging made from earth-friendly materials, use boxes, cases, mailers, and partitions made out of the highest post-consumer waste materials available and strive to reduce package-to-product ratios. This all impacts their transportation practices—a huge part of very wineries carbon footprint—so we will find wine producers that think about minimizing packaging because when you reduce the size of packaging, you not only reduce the amount of materials used but you reduce the amount of space and energy required to manufacture and ship it.

CSR: The triple bottom line is starting to make its way into more and more wine producers ethos. But, its still not a given to find wineries that work to cultivate a a sense of social responsibility into their operations. But, they are out there and we’ll find them.

If there is anything else you’d like to talk about please let me know!

Photo: Barra of Mendocino

This is cross-posted at EatDrinkBetter.com.

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Wait, wait…coming soon

27 Jan

So, we are knee deep in web development and winery sign-ups. We couldn’t be more thrilled about the winery partners we are getting lined up. Its all very top secret, so I can’t tell you much more, but…

sign up for our alerts and be the first to know when we go online. Also, folks on our email list will get first crack at using the beta site, free VineCrowd cash, and all sorts of other cool stuff. So, sign up now and we’ll catch you soon.

Jen

Two Mile Wines 40% off for friends of VineCrowd

8 Dec

Two Mile 2007 Dry Creek Sangiovese

$38.00 Retail Price

VineCrowd Price: 12 bottles $273.60 (that’s $22.80/bottle with shipping included!)

You won’t see this again. A case of Two Mile’s renowned sangiovese offered at a 4o% discount. Sustainably farmed; food friendly; true to the fruit and full of charm. High-acid; low-oak; unbelievable. Forget what you know about California sangiovese — this is a balanced, complex, and remarkable wine. Nothing could pair better with your holiday meals. Grown by Susan Lentz and Herb Polesky on a western-facing slope in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. This wine is acclaimed by critics for it’s balance, trueness to fruit, and wonderful personality. It’s meant for drinking with food, with the structure of a pinot noir with the rich body only Dry Creek can provide. Dirty some glasses with this one…

About the Wine
Alcohol: 14.8%
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley
Release Date: April 06, 2009
Year: 2007

2008 Central Valley Viognier

$24.00 Retail Price

VineCrowd Price: A mixed case of 6 bottles of Viognier + 6 bottles of Sangiovese (that’s $14.40 a bottle  + $22.80 a bottle with shipping included!)

This viognier is just what viognier should be. High-acid, completely dry, but full of the depth and complexity only viognier can bring. It’s characterized by stone-fruit balanced with citrus, with no cloying, oaky distraction. Want a structured white which will still pair with meat? If you like oaky, rich vigonier, this isn’t the wine for you. It’s made in a rich but tight style, very fruit forward but with the acid to back it up. 99 out of 100 people agree: it’s in a different class of California viognier. You can’t join the line waiting to get the annual release, but you can get it through this special with VineCrowd. This is a wine which will carry you through from cheese to dessert.

About the Wine
Alcohol: 14.8%
Appellation: Central Coast
Harvest Date: September 01, 2008
Year: 2008

Can’t decide? Try them both with a mixed case that will treat you to 6 bottles of each and match any meal. Sounds like a good night…

About Two Mile Wines

Voted the Bay Area’s best winery by the San Francisco Chronicle!

I came to this business from the love of food, friends, and connection. The wine industry has become so polarized between the worlds of glamor and commodity that I wanted to build a company which promotes the respect of wine for its craft, origin, and tangibility.” — Adam Nelson

Not interested in these wines (although I can’t imagine why…)? Please sign up for future deals!

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Welcome to VineCrowd

28 Oct

Welcome to VineCrowd. Stay tuned as we build out the next great adventure in sourcing wine.

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