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Maggie’s Organics

June 24, 2010
St. Michael-Eppan Pinot Grigio

This will be my first in a series of posts about organics and sustainability in the world of beverages.  I’ll begin with some basics and delve into different subjects more deeply in later posts.  Feel free to make requests!  My main focus will be on wine, but I do plan to discuss organic beer and liquor as well.  I am very passionate about all things earth-conscious and I hope you enjoy reading my ponderings as much as I enjoy pondering!

Last May I walked proudly across a sunny stage in southern California as I graduated from the University of Redlands with a degree in Environmental Studies.  While I knew I was headed to Andover after graduation I had no idea what else life had in store for me.  I didn’t know where I wanted to go or where to begin with the concepts of sustainability and environmental justice in which my degree was based.  I definitely had no idea that life would lead me to the world of wine I entered when I started working at Andover Liquors last fall.

And what a magical world the world of wine can be!  A world where anything, even miracles can happen.  A world where one day you can suddenly realize that your favorite white wine happens to be organic (St. Michael-Eppan Pinot Grigio).  As if that wasn’t a happy enough surprise, imagine my glee when I discovered that the world of wine would be a perfect practical application for my love of the environment and my passion for sustainability.

‘What is sustainability?’ you might well ask, and rightly so.  It is a little practiced yet ancient concept the media has rapidly turned into a “green” buzzword.  I spent four years of college hashing and re-hashing definitions of the word.  I think I can spell it in my sleep at this point, as I have thought, talked and written about it so much.  That being said, the actual definition of sustainability remains nebulous in my mind.  It is such a broad subject that it literally permeates every aspect of life and existence on this planet.

The U.S. government loosely defines practicing sustainability as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations of Americans to meet their own needs.”  Self-centered, as always.  Basically, sustainability is what it takes to keep everything running smoothly on earth indefinitely without compromising the future.  Our continued success as a species demands the equitable and responsible use of all the finite resources on this earth whether they are natural, human or economic.  The choices we make and the actions we take to ensure the continued functioning of our human societies and natural ecosystems are, in essence, the practice of sustainable living.

One way to live more sustainably is to buy and consume organic products.  Organics are made without chemicals, eliminating chemical pollutants in our water and in our bodies.  However, just because something claims to be organic does not mean that it was necessarily produced sustainably.  It is always best, in my opinion, to look beyond the label to the actual practices of producers if you want to make an informed decision about a purchase.

Sustainability is not about labels but about simply doing the right thing.  Shannon Ridge in Lake County, California, for instance, does a lot to ensure its sustainability while keeping the global picture in mind, and from what I understand they don’t even use chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.  They do not, however, carry an organic label.  What they do have, though, are sheep to mow their grass!

We can make choices to live more sustainably at every step along the way, even when we buy our favorite adult beverages.  St. Michael-Eppan’s Pinot Grigio, my favorite white wine at the moment, is far from the only organic and sustainable wine on the shelves at Andover Liquors.  California is making progress toward a universalized sustainability certification and leading the charge is Honig Vineyard & Winery.  Dissatisfied with the one-dimensionality of the USDA Organic Certification, Honig and others are establishing the criteria for sustainable winemaking. Using alternative energy sources like solar panels and more sophisticated wind turbines, Honig makes several great varieties of organic wine including an amazingly crisp and zingy Sauvignon Blanc.

Other producers in California like Bonterra and Parducci are focusing on sustainability in the vineyard and cellar, releasing tasty organic wines for all to enjoy.  Ladybug wine from Lolonis in Cali was actually named for the ladybugs in charge of pest control on the vines.  Montinore’s Borealis from Oregon is an interesting, even tantalizing blend of German-inspired organic grapes (45% Müller-Thurgau, 24% Gewurztraminer, 18% Pinot Gris and 13% Riesling, all organic).  A recent addition to our organic collection at the store is Le Loup dans la Bergerie from the south of France near Toulouse.  A big and vivacious red, it’ll knock your socks off without knocking the earth.  If you’re looking for a New World wine, La Fortuna makes a great organic Sauvignon Blanc in Chile.

Whatever your interest, we’ve got it covered with a delicious and earth conscious organic or sustainable wine.  Look for the organic tags on the shelves to discover different styles of reds, whites and summery rosés that are good for you and the planet.

So look toward the future, and sip sustainably this summer!

…  To Be Continued

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2010 8:52 am

    i heart this post 🙂

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