Podcast #50 – Conscious Wine with Jeff Weissler

Sustainability Series #1

The first in a series of podcasts dedicated to the concept of sustainability. With interviews from around the Okanagan on this topic, I want to look at how BC’s wine industry relates to the concept of sustainability at 4 different levels as it applies to wine. First, how the grapes are grown in the vineyards. Second, cellar practices in the winery. Third, through sales and marketing of the brand. Fourth, how the model of the wine industry as a whole relates to sustainability.

The first podcast in this series begins with an overview of concepts of sustainability put forth by Jeffrey Weissler, founder of Conscious Wine.com, a website dedicated to promoting wineries that produce wine with a keen awareness of their impact on the environment. Wineries that adhere to the 4 main principles and many of the 12 practices of Conscious Wine are listed, by state, on the “ConsciousWine List“. All of the wineries that make the list are deemed to be sustainable regarding their production techniques and conscious of their impact on their community and environment on multiple levels.

Jeffrey Weissler, creator of ConsciousWine.com

Some of you may have had bad experiences with wines labeled “organic” in the past. They might have tasted a little odd, dirty or just plain bad. I know a winery in the Okanagan that farms essentially organically, but refuses to certify or advertise the fact on their labels because of the perceived negative connotation around organic wine. Times have changed and the wineries on this list have to have wine that tastes great, which is one of conscious Wine’s main principles. Bad wines won’t make the list.  There are some famous on this list including Bonterra and Grgich Cellars, which was started by Mike Grgich who made the Ch. Montelena ’73 Chard that won the “Judgment of Paris” (nevermind what you saw in Bottle Shock…)

Currently, the list includes wineries in California and Oregon with our neighbours in Washington State likely to be added to the list soon. In province like BC, where concepts like Smith and MacKinnon’s “100-Mile Diet” were born, the ideas of Conscious Wine will seem right at home here. Local eating means knowing where your food comes from and many wine drinkers in all over BC and Alberta are looking to BC’s wine country for a locally produced food and wine.

At the very least, we are all becoming much more conscious of where our food comes from and ConsciousWine.com is a great step in raising awareness further.

Let me know what you think about sustainability in BC’s wine industry. Have you bought organic wine recently? Is it important to you that wineries be sustainable? Does it matter to you if vineyards spray synthetic chemicals on their vines? Do you notice organic wines more often? (The recent official Ironman wine produced by Dunham and Froese was entirely organic.) Leave a comment here or on the wall on our Facebook page.