Bon Vivant: (n) a person having cultivated, refined, and sociable tastes especially with respect to food and drink.

All posts in Green Wine Practices

Champagne’s Dirty little Secret

Posted in: Behind the Scenes, Bon Vivant, Bubbly, Champagne, DC Champagne Week, Drink Well, Environment, Events, Green Wine Practices, Travel, Wine Health, Wineries and Vineyards

In an age when we are ever more cognizant of what we’re putting in our bodies, Champagne is hiding a dirty little secret.

During a visit to the grand cru village of Verzenay last April, I explored the vines to take a look at what the devastating frost of last spring had done to the vines.  Due to elevation, these particular vines were spared, but I was distracted by what I saw in the soil.

Verzenay in April, 2017

I thought perhaps that unruly tourists had left trash behind. Only when I looked more closely did I realize there was plastic waste and refuse for as far as I could see. I knew that Paris and Reims had used the vineyards as dumps for ages- it was a practice, upon conception, that benefitted the vines.  For a long while waste was essentially organic compost, but in recent decades, plastic was dumped in huge amounts. The practice only stopped in the 1990s. Some champagne houses that take less care with grape sourcing still haven’t cleaned up their act.

However, the future of champagne is bright, led by committed vignerons who are leading the way with sustainable practices in a region that faces more than its fair share of climate challenges. From organic to biodynamic practices, many of Champagne’s grower producers- and even some of the large houses- have taken huge steps to not only clean up the vineyards, but are integrating solar panels, plowing their vineyards by horse, fertilizing with manure and compost.

Ecueil in October, 2017.

In December, I’ll be hi lighting a selection of these exceptional cuvées during a presentation and tasting for DC Champagne Week.  If you’d like to learn more about natural winemaking practices taking place in Champagne, please join me at Dio Wine Bar. Featured producers include Louis Roederer, Pierre Paillard, Maillart, Lacourt-Godbillon, Franck Pascal, and Moussé & Fils. Purchase tickets here.

 

Are you surprised to still see garbage in Champagne vineyards? I was! 

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Drinking Green

Posted in: Green Wine Practices, Helpful Hints, Upcoming Events, Virginia Wine, Wine Facts, Wine Health, Wine vocabulary, Wineries and Vineyards

This week Washington DC is hosting the The Green Festival. The wine industry is currently undergoing it’s own “greening” process, and clients are making more and more informed decisions when purchasing wine.

But what does “drinking green” look like? (And no, I’m not talking about kale smoothies!) It can be a complicated process and there are many ways to go about it!

Although vintners make countless choices in their efforts towards sustainability and environmental harmony, there are a few main categories that have a major impact on how green your wine choices are.

Cab Franc during harvest

1. Organic Wines:

This one can be a bit misleading, because the meaning of organic wine varies from country to country. The certification process also varies, and can be prohibitively expensive for smaller wineries.  Many wineries that grow their grapes organically are not certified for this reason. Often, the bottle will give you an indication of whether the vineyard employs organic practices.

Often, “Old World” (European) wines use fewer and less harsh pesticides than their “New World” counterparts.  This is largely due to their environmental laws prohibiting the use of certain harmful chemicals, as well as the wine making tradition of generations working with the land before the advent of chemicals and machinery.

2. Sustainable Wines

Sustainable wine practices include the planting of beneficial plants and wildflowers, use of bio-diesel fuel, water conservation practices, cork recycling programs, or the elimination of machinery.  Hand-picking grapes and plowing by horse are just a few sustainable practices winemakers employ to reduce their environmental footprint. Economic viability and impact on the community- such as fair trade practices- are also often taken into account with sustainable wine making. These practices are often used in conjunction with organic or biodynamic practices.

2. Biodynamic Wines

Biodynamic wine making is similar to organic farming practices in that both take place without chemicals. However, biodynamic farming takes a broader approach, viewing the vineyard as an ecosystem, and incorporating astrological influences and lunar cycles.  Biodynamic wines also avoid cellar manipulations such as adjusting yeast or acidity.

4. Drink Local

I was recently at an environmental fundraiser that paid careful attention to providing vegan meal options and flying in hi-profile environmental advocates.  However, when I visited the bar I was shocked to see them serving non-sustainable, non-organic, non-biodynamic from the other side of the globe?!

I love foreign wine, but the cost and energy of transporting wine is not without its own environmental impact.  Although it’s difficult to grow grapes organically in Virginia, many wineries, such as this one are making incredible strides towards reducing their environmental footprint.  Drinking local not only helps the local economy, it helps the environment!

Do you try to drink “green”?

cheers

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