Friday, February 01, 2008

Red, White or Green?

Green is the word of the moment.

Like many people, I’m trying to be more aware of where the products I buy come from and purchase more items locally — or as locally as possible. I even found a company in Montana, West Paw Designs, that makes all kinds of cool stuff for my dogs. No more “Made in China” for the pups.

Unfortunately, finding local goods can be challenging, as well as expensive. While I’m doing my best to re-think my food purchases and examining labels a little more closely, wine presents a bit of a dilemma.

Those of you who live in California Wine Country have a distinct advantage when it comes to buying local wine. I would love to be able to visit so many great wineries and purchase my wine there, or at least know my wine didn’t have to travel far.

Since it’s a bit of a haul from South Carolina to California, that’s not really an option. I could still buy California wine on the premise that it’s closer than some of the other places that produce the wines I enjoy.

That brings up the issue of cost. I drink very little California wine, simply because it costs significantly more than wines of comparable quality from elsewhere. Even the once super-affordable zinfandel is climbing towards $20 a bottle for decent juice. When there are so many great wines coming from Spain, Italy and South America in the $8-$12 range, I have a hard time justifying the higher cost of California wines.

Plus, I'm poor (and cheap).

The East Coast is certainly producing great wines and production is increasing every year. From Massachusetts and New York to Virginia and North Carolina, new wineries are popping up and existing wineries are coming into their own as national players.

South Carolina, as with many things, is far behind the curve.

Thanks to bickering between the states and archaic alcohol laws, I can get all the California wine I want, but North Carolina and Virginia wines are difficult to find. I have been able to find some of the wines I love, especially the wines of Horton Vineyards, but I'd like a larger selection.

I’m aware that most retailers shy away from East Coast wines because there isn’t much of a demand, at least around here. I hope that as people become more aware of the energy it takes to move your beloved vino from the winery to your table, buying local will become more of a priority.

I also hope the less-than-enlightened politicians (yes, I’m talking to you, S.C. politicians) realize that grape growing and winemaking are a big asset for the local economy. One look at the success New York or Virginia has had is enough to convince anyone that a local wine industry attracts tourism, creates jobs and (if done right) has a relatively low environmental impact.

It's also up to wine drinkers to discover, drink and promote local wines, whether they live in Napa or Missouri. Wine lovers are frequently the people who search out local produce, and then enjoy their meal with a French wine that has travled more than 4,000 miles.  

In future posts, I hope to dig a little deeper into ways I can reduce the impact my wine consumption has on the environment. In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to start making an occasional trip up to North Carolina to stock up on some local wine.

I’d really rather save the gas and spend my money at home, but you got to do what you got to do. As a wise frog once said, “It ain’t easy bein' green.”

Just for fun, here's a sample of how far some of the wines in my collection might have traveled:

Southeastern Australia - 10,197 miles

Buenos Aires, Argentina - 4,923 miles

Paris, France - 4,226 miles

Madrid, Spain - 4,148 miles

Twisted Oak Winery, Vallecito, California - 2,645 miles

Horton Vineyards, Gordonsville, Virginia - 422 miles

Westbend Vineyards, Lewisville, North Carolina - 175 miles


Left Behind Child said...

One of the things I miss about being back home in Chicago is the Glunz Family Winery. They had a store near me in Long Grove. We're not talking complex wine here, definitely the table variety - but very nice for it's category. Best of all, they used hinge-top bottles that re-sealed well and if you brought them back to the store you received a discount. Essentially they became wine "growlers". I thought that was a great way to encourage re-use and recycling, and a great way to encourage my drinking habits all at the same time.

John said...

That's exactly the sort of thing SC needs. I'll always want wines from around the world, but it would be nice to have some good local table wine. There's a serious appeal to being able to enjoy a local "vin de pays."

That's also the first I've heard of a winery offering re-fillable bottles, which I understand is pretty common in Europe. It's a great concept: less waste, less money and more wine.

Who couldn't get behind that?

hesslei said...

Red wine has long been touted as heart healthy. Some have suggested that the apparent health benefits of red wine, namely reducing your risk of heart disease. If you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to drink alcohol because too much alcohol can have a host of harmful effects on your body.


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