Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine


Now The Hard Part

There was a part of me, the procrastinating part, which was secretly hoping the Mayans were on to something. Writing is hard, and expressing what you think and feel in words takes effort. Unfortunately since the Mayan apocalypse did not happen, I am forced to do the Organic Wine Journal year-end wrap up.

2012 was a year that the shadows of unreality diminished and the reality we live with came into starker relief. The warming planet brought new and personal misery to the billions on the shores and vast inlands. From The Philippines to New Jersey, from the plains of Texas to the deserts of China, rain, wind and heat, too much or too little, overwhelmed us and caused pain and havoc. Calving ice sheets the size of countries, melting mountain glaciers, and rising sea levels are shouting in our ear that something is amiss.

As we toil for our livelihood, the sense that something is not quite right was 2012’s big story. Neither Western capitalism nor Chinese state-ism delivered the balanced, positive, sustainable economic conditions for the future. Too few have too much and too many not enough. The components of the system — politicians, banks, brokerage houses and companies — were exposed in 2012 as somewhere between malevolent and evil. Private equity funds shuttered factories in America and shipped jobs offshore. Greedy Chinese officials expropriated peasants’ land for yet another luxury high-rise and financial criminals, masquerading as traders, ran the world’s largest banks. Handcuff makers enjoyed a good year as financiers were actually arrested.

The evils of our “fashion” industries were also laid bare as the low wage workers in China, Bangladesh and India paid with their lives so we could look cool while we demanded everyday low low prices for jeans and hoodies. The global sweatshops that dominate manufacturing of electronics and household goods were similarly exposed as venial. While we groove along listening to Adele on our personal digital music devices, someone is slaving away to make that device cheap for you.

The fight for good, ethical, decent food and wine continued too. Obesity, brought on by overeating of processed and fast food, threatens to saddle half the world (so far) with its onslaught of chronic diseases. These self-inflicted injuries can and will bankrupt even prosperous nations. Adulterated and contaminated food is consumed by billions in the emerging world, while crap food laced with chemicals and industrial fillers lines the shelves in the rich world. Due to advertising and imaging, the lure of soda and empty calories has a choke hold on the youth…worldwide.

With all the above it is easy to see why the Mayan apocalypse or for that matter Christian apocalyptic thinking resonates.

As a counter measure, OWJ readers and drinkers might want to usher in 2013 by living in a manner to help the world heal, one drink at a time. The small act of drinking organic, biodynamic or natural wine breaks the pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide chain that poisons the earth. Boosting yields by applying nitrated fertilizers that then wash into the sea create dead zones. These lifeless, watery acres, devoid of plankton and fish, can kill the oceans. Drinking organic wine is one small tiny step you can do to heal the world’s oceans. Buying wine from small family producers locks out the corporate/industrial complex that employs workers wearing hazmat suits. Economically too, directing your wine budget to sustainable makers means less for the 1% and more for the 99%. Do the presidents of the global wine distribution companies really need another Mercedes? Those of us basking in luxury, and I mean anyone with the time and resources to have a wine dinner with friends, have, I believe, a responsibility to drink wine that promotes a better, fairer world.

So once again, we ask all the grape growers, wine makers, exporters, distributors, retailers and restaurateurs to please limit your purchases to wine that is non-toxic. With all that needs to change on the planet, surely this cannot be too much to ask. Shout out the wines you sell or drink that are organic, Biodynamic or natural.

As 2012 comes to a close, special recognition is in order for four people. Among the many that are helping to heal the earth, these four exemplify what the world of wine should be about. The first is our perennial favorite Tony Coturri at Coturri Winery, the pioneer of “just grapes” in the bottle. Nothing else added. He makes fantastic wine. Barbara Shinn at Shinn Estates is next. In a very difficult growing environment, she is pursuing the Biodynamic route. The third, for his amazing efforts to promote the most ethical makers of delicious wine is Pierre Jancou in Paris. His restaurants are sanctuaries of good drinking. Lastly, in London, Ed Wilson, now with four restaurants, brings forth the very best in ethical sourcing and uniqueness. His impressive wine lists are a joy to read and drink from. Ed marries food and wine in a way that brings fulfillment to those who care.

And a toast to all who have contributed to OWJ. I thank you sincerely from the bottom of my glass.