Whole Story

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Earth-Friendly Wines For Earth Day

Devon Broglie, winner of Texas’ Best Sommelier Competition in 2006, coordinates wine and specialty goods for our Southwest Region stores. His true passion for wine developed in the late 1990’s as the Manager of Brightleaf 905 restaurant, and during his stint in Spain working the harvest season for the pioneering winery Bodegas Costers del Siurana in the Priorat region of Catalunya. As we prepare to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd, my first inclination is to celebrate as I would any birthday or special occasion…with wine! The subject of wine and the environment sparks debate across the country and the world. As in any agricultural endeavor, the success of a wine and subsequently the winemaker is greatly determined by the environment in which the grapes are grown and the care and craftsmanship with which a winemaker plies his or her trade. While consumer awareness of “green” wines is growing, the wine buyers here at Whole Foods Market aren’t interested in carrying every wine that has a tree on the label and makes a claim to be eco-friendly. It’s important to me and the other buyers that wineries make excellent wines despite any claims to sustainability. I do feel, though, that the wine industry, by its nature, is a business that advocates the sustainability of production and one in which farmers and winemakers are inherently more likely to care about the environment. Eco-friendly wines come in all shapes and sizes and, quite frustratingly, have differing and confusing levels of eco-friendliness. California and Oregon have their own Sustainable Certifications. Sustainability in Practice (SIP) and LIVE Certified Sustainable both claim jurisdictions. There are organic wines, wines made with organically grown grapes, biodynamic wines, sustainably farmed wines, etc. But what are any or all of these groups trying to say or accomplish? In my mind it is the end goal of promoting that the wine trade, whether on a small scale or big business, can take care of the environment.  Call me naïve or perhaps I’ve simply drunk the Kool-Aid, but I honestly believe that at its core the wine industry does aim to be kind to our environment. With that said, there are a few wineries I feel really stand out and deserve to be mentioned here. In 1990, Badger Mountain Organic Vineyard became the first certified organic vineyard in Washington State.  And the Organic NSA (No Sulfites Added) wines from this property all show remarkable purity of fruit and complexity and value for the money. Parducci is America’s first 100% Carbon Neutral Winery, generating all of its power from solar and wind energy. They use bio-diesel tractors and organic farming practices, and while not all of their wines are organic they are all delicious and they are obviously committed to the environment. Cono Sur is a Chilean project that, in 1998, began a transition from traditional to sustainable agriculture and now has recently made the transition from Sustainable Farming to Organic Viticulture in several of its vineyards. The wines are not only naturally made with minimal environmental impact but they are also of exceptional quality. I hope you’ll try an eco-friendly wine for your Earth Day celebration. Got some favorite sustainable standouts of your own? Let’s hear them!