Wine Jones: Environmentally responsible wines
October 2, 2008
Today there is an ever-increasing interest in reducing our carbon footprint, and to use products without added chemicals. The wine industry is embracing the less is best policy in producing grapes and subsequently, wines, with little or no additional chemicals. The wine industry is also striving to reduce energy and water usage in both the vineyard and in the winery.To indicate how a wine is produced find new terms on the wine bottle or the restaurant wine list describing certain techniques employed. Sustainable, bio-dynamic or organic may be part of the descriptors, along with flavor and aromas descriptions.We know what organic means, that the product was produced free from manufactured chemicals ingredients. There are different levels of organic; an organic wine will be produced from grapes grown without the use of chemical, fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. The organic wine will then be bottled without the use of any additional additives, to preserve, stabilize, or clarify the wine.A step above the term organically grown is certified organic. Those wines are produced from grapes grown in soils that are free of any chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides or sewage sludge. The vineyard must have been certified by an outside agency that the soil has been free of any chemical additives for five years prior to certification.Sustainable refers to wines produced by using environmentally responsible practices. Sustainability embraces many of the values and practices of organic farming but extends beyond pesticides and herbicides to such areas as labor practices and water and energy usage.Cover crops, building water diversions on slopes and tilling the soil little or not at all are practices employed to reduce soil erosion and excessive water usage.Pesticides and herbicides are used intelligently, if at all, and they will encourage predatory insects to help control pests.Energy conservation is practiced both in the vineyard and during wine production.The growers of nearly half of the wine grapes in the state have signed on to a code of sustainable practices, an unprecedented step for a major crop. They are using cover crops to control erosion and improve soil fertility. And, theyre conserving water with precision irrigation.Bio-dynamic on the label refers to wines produced from grapes grown using a prescribed system that includes using grown covers to provide moisture and invasive weed protection. The vineyard manager will use predator insects and birds to remove insects and rodents. They will only use natural animal fertilizers, and perform vineyard management steps, such as trimming the vines according to moon phases. One such step is to plant a cows horn that has been filled with manure in the vineyard on the Autumnal equinox and digging it up at the spring equinox. Next time you are looking for a new wine, why not look for a wine that is produced by an environmentally responsible winery.Local Wine HappeningsThe Pour House, on Jibboom Street: Tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. Richard Alfaro from Alfaro Family and Martin Alfaro wines, pouring his wines and talking about this year’s crush.Annual Wine Walk andamp; Shop in Truckee: Saturday, Oct. 4, from noon to 4 p.m. The Wine Walk has proved to be a wonderful opportunity to try great wines, and sample some fantastic food prepared by local restaurants. Every year the proceeds go to support a worthwhile non-profit community program. This year the proceeds will go to the Special Friends programs at Glenshire and Truckee Elementary Schools. The Special Friends program provides children an opportunity to deal with changes in their lives in a positive, nurturing environment.This years Wine Walk andamp; Shop will provide us with a chance to try very good organic, bio-dynamic and sustainable produced wines and also offer a chance to become part of that village it takes to raise a child. Janice Jones is a Truckee resident, and wine consultant. You may reach her at email@example.com.