Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine

On a recent trip to Ohio I saw an Unoaked Chardonnay section at a wine store. This is the kind of sections, and honesty, more stores should have. Send us your suggestions for what you would like to see. Here are some ideas from our group:

Lyle Fass: Restrained California Reds

Greg Wacks: Grapes You’ve Never Heard of

Adam Morganstern: $15 Wines That Are Better Than Our $50 Wines

Evan Spingarn: Chillable Reds

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We’ve been writing about them for awhile, and now everyone is catching on. Check out Eric Asimov’s latest column about The Ten Bells. He praises the wines, the food and the laid back atmosphere.

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Working with some obscure theory that wine and taking off your clothes are somehow linked, Greenpeace has teamed up with photographer Spencer Tunick to do a shoot at a vineyard in Burgundy to bring awareness to climate change and how it may affect your favorite vintages.

From the press release:

Save the wines of France!

Greenpeace and Spencer Tunick invite you to participate in a unique art installation that is committed to raising awareness.
On Saturday, October 3rd 2009, in a vineyard in the South of Burgundy – Rain or Shine!

The impacts of climate change are being felt all around the world. In France, they are already affecting the wines and the vineyards. If we don’t act here and now, humankind and its cultural heritage will ultimately be condemned.

For more than 15 years, artist Spencer Tunick has staged mass nude installations all over the world. His collective landscapes always question humankind’s relationship with its environment.

Together, Greenpeace and Spencer Tunick invite you to take part in a unique and original artwork that symbolizes the impacts of climate change.

We all must make our voices heard – or let our bodies speak – to urge political leaders to take action.

Click here for the event website.

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shapeimage_2Have you ever dreamed about giving up the coporate life and running away to Italy to make wine or up to Vermont to make cheese? Our good friend Katarina Maloney did just that and you can follow her adventures on her blog, Make Wine And Cheese With Me. Katarina calls her journey “An urban girl’s attempt at getting down and dirty for her two favorite things,” and she travelled to Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont to start her education in cheesemaking. She then left for Tenuta di Valgiano, a biodynamic winery in Lucca, Italy where she is now working the harvest.

Check out her writing and learn the joys of the two hour vineyard lunch and the exercise value of stomping grapes.

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The Organic Wine Journal is doing it’s second class and tasting at the Astor Center in new York City on April 27th. We’ll explore the differences between organic, biodynamic, natural and sustainable winemaking and taste some great wines along the way.

For more info, and to sign up, click here.

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It seems strange that the burden of labeling and certifying is placed on organic farmers. That gives the impression they’re doing something remarkable when, with the exception of about a century, they have all of history behind them.

The words we use show how much things have changed. When it comes to farming, organic is now the opposite term for conventional, which is just another way of saying normal. No one refers to themselves as a chemical farmer or winemaker. The natural method has become the unnatural.

So, it’s the organic producers who have to pay the costs, fill out the paperwork, and argue about standards just to tell you what they’re not doing. Imagine if the situation was reversed, and this burden was placed on conventional winemakers instead. Your wine selection might be a little different for dinner tonight if you saw on a label the products they had to use to bring that bottle to market.

A lot of money goes into making sure you don’t know, and in some cases are not allowed to know, the chemicals used in modern food production. Monsanto, the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seed, loves to vouch for the safety of injecting cows with growth hormones, but milk producers who use this method don’t exactly want to boast about it on their labels. In fact, Monsanto spends a lot of money backing legislation to prevent other producers from boasting they don’t use growth hormones in their milk. This would allow customers to choose to avoid their products, and they don’t want that to happen.

From a capitalist standpoint, it might seem we have a great system. Everybody is paying for what they want. Organic farmers pay to advertise their virtues, and conventional farmers pay to conceal their faults. Unfortunately, the use of chemicals is backed by tremendous sums of money, and with it the ability to influence legislation. Organic farmers tend to be the smaller operations, who cannot always shoulder the burden and bureaucracy of certification. It would be a nice change to consider them the normal ones, and let the unnatural companies have to pay to let you know what they are up to.

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pioneerWritings of Nicholas Herbemont, Master Viticulturist
Edited by David S. Shields

This volume collects the most important writings on viticulture by Nicholas Herbemont (1771-1839), who is widely considered the finest practicing winemaker of the early United States. Included are his two major treatises on viticulture, thirty-one other published pieces on vine growing and wine making, and essays that outline his agrarian philosophy. Over the course of his career, Herbemont cultivated more than three hundred varieties of grapes in a garden the size of a city block in Columbia, South Carolina, and in a vineyard at his plantation, Palmyra, just outside the city.

Born in France, Herbemont carefully tested the most widely held methods of growing, pruning, processing, and fermentation in use in Europe to see which proved effective in the southern environment. His treatise “Wine Making,” first published in the American Farmer in 1833, became for a generation the most widely read and reliable American guide to the art of producing potable vintage.

David S. Shields, in his introductory essay, positions Herbemont not only as important to the history of viticulture in America but also as a notable proponent of agricultural reform in the South. Herbemont advocated such practices as crop rotation and soil replenishment and was an outspoken critic of slave-based cotton culture.

David S. Shields is McClintock Professor of Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina. He edits the journal Early American Literature and also serves as general editor of the Publications of the Southern Texts Society series. Shields’s books include Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America and Oracles of Empire: Poetry, Politics, and Commerce in British America, 1690-1750.

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Union Square Wines is pleased to welcome Adam Morganstern of the Organic Wine Journal to the Salon for a luxury tasting of top organic cuvĂ©es from around the world! Organic Wine Journal is the premier online source for all eco-friendly queries and Mr. Morganstern, joined by OWJ’s “green wine” guru Greg Wacks, is ready to elaborate and elucidate on biodynamic practices, certified (and uncertified) organic, and sustainable farming! These terms are more pertinent than ever as farmers turn to earth-friendly practices and consumers look for natural products in shops across NYC!

Attendees can look forward to a stunning lineup of natural wines from France, Austria, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, and the US! Savory meats and artisanal cheeses will be served following the formal presentation sourced from Murray’s Cheese and Saxelby Cheesemongers! Join USQ and Organic Wine Journal in celebrating the organic movement and the vinous fruits of its labor!

Reservations are required to attend this tasting. Reservations cost just $20 and include a $10 wine voucher valid towards purchases the night of the event! Click here to sign up.

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