The other day, I had an argument with a prominent importer of artisanal, organic and biodynamic wines. We asked him to advertise with the Organic Wine Journal so our readers can find his wines. He was having none of it. He had three arguments. First, his producers were selling all their wine so they did not need to change their message. Second, they were tradition bound and that change of any kind would fly in the face of family practices going back generations. The third reason was the shocker. “I don’t want them confined in the organic ghetto.”
The organic ghetto. Words that still ring in my ears. I explained the case of organic milk. There’s such a demand now that no one can keep up. Dairies that have converted to organic farming are getting prices double or more than being paid to the hormone-laden antibiotic infused farms. Billion dollar corporations are vying for shelf space in the organic milk market market because their own research showed that parents did not want a toxic mix of chemicals to be in their children’s bodies.
For some strange reason, there is resistance on the part of the organic wine industry to tell its consumers positive good news. To label their wine as organic or biodynamic, to market it as such and to pressure restaurant into revealing the organic choices on their wine lists.
The reason often stated is that a lot of organic wine is not very good and some wine drinkers may have had a bad experience. It’s easy to fall for this if you don’t reflect a little. Who hasn’t had a bad experience drinking conventional wine? Who hasn’t sipped some factory blended Frankenwine and shuddered. Did that stop anyone from drinking wine ever again? Of course not. It only hastened the search for better tasting, better drinking higher quality wines. Who hasn’t had a bad date? Did that end your search for a mate?
By the end of the conversation I got a little like Isaiah and prophesized that a tipping point was coming where conventional wine would be shunned. I told him about the pesticides found in conventional wine, which he knew about and said “that’s all everyone talked about last week in France.” I even said his producers would suffer economically if they did not shout out their organic methods for all to hear.
The call soon ended and I had no support. Yet, going forward I am confident that one day we will. The forces all around us are demanding truthful labeling of everything we eat and drink. Wine lovers are also becoming earth lovers, body lovers (their own) and biosphere lovers. The days of ingesting poison with your fermented grapes and poisoning the world around you is coming to an end.
The irony is that there are wine makers out there hiding their true souls and it’s just silly. Like the fall of the Berlin wall the breakout from the organic ghetto is coming, and it will be very dramatic.