“In the name of productivity, the ‘fast life’ has changed our lifestyle and now threatens our environment and our land (and city) scapes,” writes Carlo Petrini in the SLOW FOOD MANIFESTO. Arguing that we “confuse efficiency with frenzy, we propose the vaccine of an adequate portion of sensual gourmandise pleasures, to be taken with slow and prolonged enjoyment.”
Featured in the Slow Wine Guide is pioneering Fetzer, one of the first larger wineries to get on the certified organic bandwagon, and is also now a B Corp. While they do source and use conventional grown fruit in their Fetzer brand, their Bonterra brand is all certified organically grown grapes, and they also have biodynamic wines. Fetzer’s family of wines includes Chile’s Cono Sur brand which uses organically grown certified grapes.
Inspired by the Slow Food Movement which began in 1986 after a “demonstration on the intended site of a McDonald’s at the Spanish Steps in Rome” and which advocates “a comprehensive approach to food that recognizes the strong connections between plate, planet, people, politics and culture., ” Slow Wine follows a similar template.
In late April 2021, Deborah Parker Wong, national editor, interviewed and selected me to join the Slow Wine Guide as a field representative. The team of field representatives began contacting and visiting wineries in mid-June; to date, I’ve visited almost 30 in California’s Santa Barbara, El Dorado, Lodi, and Paso Robles regions as well as two in Southern Oregon.
Stay tuned (subscribe!) for my reports with photos from my visits as well as pairings with the wines! Coming up next: AmByth, which I will be adding to the guide following my visit last weekend to their biodynamic estate where we helped pick and foot stomp sangiovese!
Purchase the guide to make this important work possible! Send your name, shipping address and payment to Paypal firstname.lastname@example.org or Venmo @slowwineguideusa. Buy two — or three! They make great gifts and are super useful as a print edition.
With September being California Wine Month and it’s “Organic September,” I was so thrilled when Fetzer offered samples to the Wine Pairing Weekend group of wine writers for this month’s theme, “Pairings with Organic Wine,” that I volunteered to host!
Organic vineyards typically take better care of the planet, they’re better for the people who work there, and they’re better for YOU too — they rarely cost more than conventional wines, and as recent research at UCLA shows that certified wines score significantly higher (read more here).
As I wrote in the invite post “5 Reasons to Grow Organic Grapes: an Invitation to September #WinePW,” California Department of Pesticides Regulation reports in 2010 conventionally-grown wine grapes in California had 25 million pounds of pesticides applied to them– more pesticides than regular table grapes, almonds, tomatoes, or even strawberries.
According to the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) about a million pounds of those chemicals on wine grapes are known/probable causes of cancer, are neurotoxins, or are groundwater contaminants. In 2010, 400,000 pounds of Roundup aka Glyphosate was applied to wine grape vineyards.
So if you’re interested in what it tastes like to save the planet, read on for pairings with chardonnay made from organically certified grapes from Chile and California that retails for under $15, followed by links to blogs from my #WinePW colleagues. Scroll down to check out their inspiring topics!
Fetzer and Bonterra
Fetzer Vineyards implemented sustainable practices in the 1980s. Produced at the Fetzer winery, and first released in 1992, Bonterra is one of the pioneers in growing organic winegrapes and is the number one selling brand of wine in the US made with organic grapes. They certified organic in 2010, over 10 years ago; the Bonterra, Fetzer, and Jekel Vineyards are certified as are the Fetzer and Five Rivers Wineries. The McNab, Butler, and Blue Heron Ranches grow for the Bonterra brand, and they are certified Biodynamic by Demeter, as well as certified organic.
The first winery to participate in Chile’s “Wine, Climate Change, and Biodiversity” program, B Corp Cono Sur also leads Chile as a purveyor of organic wine. Their Campo Lindo Vineyard dedicates land to protecting native plant species, beneficial insects and small animals. The label’s bicycle symbolizes sustainability, and many of the employees ride to work by bike. Cono Sur offers training opportunities, ethical pay and educational programs.
Chile’s Vina Concha Y Toro, a rare global wine company that focuses on sustainability and organic growing, owns Cono Sur, Fetzer, and Bonterra.
UPDATE: Scroll down for questions for our Saturday 8am Pacific twitter chat. I’ll also update with links to participants’ articles once they are published.
This September, what are you harvesting? How did your garden grow? Our menu is inspired by what is growing in my garden as well as the garden of friends and the local seafood harvest of blue fin tuna!
- Watermelon, mint, feta, arugula salad with a lemon-honey vinaigrette
- Goat cheese stuffed zucchini flowers battered and fried
- Grilled zucchini
- Seared blue fin tuna — purchased off the dock in Ventura’s harbor!
- 2020 Cono Sur Chardonnay Chile
- 2020 Bonterra Chardonnay California
On the following day, both wines paired well with shrimp sushi from Sprouts. We had oysters but once we tasted the wines, we didn’t explore that pairing as we prefer oysters with crisper whites.
2020 Cono Sur Organico Chardonnay Chile
sample for my review
Organic Grapes; Vegan
A certified B Corp, the Cono Sur winery earned the first organic certification and farms over 700 acres organically growing Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Carmenere, Cabernet, and Syrah as well as Chardonnay.
Color: Pale lemon
Nose: Lots of sweet vanilla and toasted oak, balanced with green apple, green grass, minerals.
Palate: Lemon curd, tart fruit, acidity up front moving directly through the palate. The oak is not as heavy on the palate as on the nose. Easy to drink and enjoy on its own or with food.
Pairing: The watermelon salad was a bit overwhelming with the wine. The salad shines, but overtakes the wine just a bit. It is not however a failure, the layered flavors work just fine with the wine quite possibly making the wine a bit more interesting. Good with the zucchini blossom. Fried breaded zucchini would have worked better than the grilled zucchini, but it was not horrible, just not fantastic. The seasoned and seared tuna works well.
2020 Bonterra Chardonnay
ABV 13.5% alcohol
sample for my review
Made with organic grapes
In addition to Chardonnay, look for Bonterra’s Rose, Merlot, Zin, and red blends as well as wines in cans. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the Sauvignon Blanc soon; subscribe so you don’t miss out!!
Color: Deeper lemon, almost golden
Nose: Tropical fruit, coconut, vanilla, some oak, coconut lifesavers, pineapple, grilled fresh pineapple,
Palate: Tropical fruit, tropical lifesavers, the oak is present on the palate, tastes well made. It is a great wine at this price point. Nice acidity
Pairing: Fantastic with our stuffed zucchini blossoms, the wine loves fried foods. Great with the grilled zucchini and seared tuna. It is a rich pairing, the wine loves rich flavorful wines. Very nice with the watermelon salad, loving the mint, arugula, the feta and the lemon honey dressing. The whole package works with the wine.
Happy California Wine Month! Happy September Organic Month! Happy Harvest!
- Robin Bell Renken brings Organic Wine – Sustainability and Beyond (Plus Recommendations and Pairings to Crushed Grape Chronicles
- Camilla Mann suggests Sustainably Sourced Seafood + Organic Wines: Rock Crab Claw Crêpes with Bonterra’s 2020 Chardonnay on Culinary Adventures with Camilla.
- Wendy Klik is Drinking and Dining Sustainably and Organically on A Day in the Life on the Farm.
- Terri Oliver Steffes sees Slow Wines and Organic Farming with Lettuce Grow at Our Good Life
- Nicole Ruiz Hudson presents a Chardonnay and Chicken Showdown: Chile vs. California on Somm’s Table
- David Crowley offers an Organic Wine Pairing with Veggie Burgers on Cooking Chat
- Linda Whipple suggests Vegan Black Bean Burgers and Organic Wine: a Planet-Conscious Pairing on My Full Wine Glass
- Cynthia and Pierre Ly present Mystery Organic Wine “Le Vendangeur Masqué” with Crêpes Dinner and Economics on Traveling Wine Profs
- Jennifer Gentile Martin considers Organic Wines with Pasta and Shrimp on Vino Travels
- Pinny Tam goes with Organic White Wines: Bonterra Chardonnay, Cono Sur Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc Paired With Asian Vegan Dishes on Chinese Food and Wine Pairings
- Martin Redmond offers Sustainable Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Paired with White Pizza on ENFYLZ Wine Blog.
- On Wine Predator, Sue Hill and Gwendolyn Alley have AmByth’s Natural Wines, Biodynamic Farming for the Future.
What pairings with organic wine did my colleagues come up with? Articles go live by Saturday September 11 at 8am.
You’re invited to join our Saturday September 11 twitter chat using the hashtag #WinePW 8am Pacific by following the hashtag #WinePW. Here’s what we will be discussing and when:
Q1 8am Welcome to the #PourOrganic #WinePW chat during #OrganicSeptember! Please introduce yourself, tell us where you are tweeting from today, and share a link to your website or blog if you have one.
Q2 805a At $54.5M in the US, Organic Wine is an important category in wine that’s growing FASTER than total table wine; globally it’s expected to grow to over $1B by 2024. How does organic factor into your wine selection? #WinePW #PourOrganic
Q3 810a Have you written about #organic wine in the past or is this a new category for you? Share a link if you’ve written about it before or tell us about a favorite organic wine. #WinePW #PourOrganic
Q4 815a According to UCLA research, #organic certified wines score higher than conventionally grown wines. Have you noticed a difference in flavor in organic food and wine? #OrganicSeptember #PourOrganic #WinePW https://winepredator.com/2021/02/09/ucla-research-organic-biodynamic-wines-score-higher/
Q5 820a In addition to flavor, people choose organic wine for a number of other reasons. What are some of yours? #PourOrganic #OrganicSeptember #WinePW
Q6 Some of us received samples from @bonterrawine and @ConoSurWines. Was it hard to find wine to #PourOrganic for #OrganicSeptember? How did you choose your wine? Is it certified or did you go by the winery’s reputation? Have you checked out #SlowWineGuide as a resource? #WinePW
Q7 830a Red. White. Orange. Sparkling. #Organic Wine comes in every style and from everywhere! Tell us about the #PourOrganic wine you are featuring this #OrganicSeptember. Pictures? #WinePW
Q8 835a Many of us wrote about more than one #organic wine or more than one winery. Please tell us more about your #PourOrganic wine and winery. Share a link, please. #WinePW
Q9 840am How did your pair your #organic wine? Did you go traditional to the region or inspired by it? Was your food organic also? Pictures? Was the pairing a success? Would you do anything different? Please share a link. #WinePW #PourOrganic #OrganicSeptember
Q10 845a Many organic wineries are concerned about people and planet. What did you learn about your featured winery’s sustainability initiatives? Is the winery a B Corp? #WinePW #PourOrganic #OrganicSeptember
Q11 850a In the US, organic produce costs more than conventional but organic wines usually don’t. Consumers in the UK pay an average 38% more for a bottle of organic versus non- organic wine. How does price play a role in your selection of organic wine? #WinePW #PourOrganic #OrganicSeptember
Q12 855 What makes an organic wine an organic wine? Why might this be important to consumers? Is there anything else you learned about organic wine or your winery that you’d like to share? #WinePW #PourOrganic #OrganicSeptember
Q13 9am Thank you for joining the #WinePW crew as we #PourOrganic for #OrganicSeptember. Thank you to sponsors @bonterrawine and @ConoSurWines. In October you’re invited to #MerlotMe hosted by Jeff Burrows @foodwineclick.
Each month, Wine Pairing Weekend group of wine writers explore a different topic. What we’ve done in #WinePW so far in 2021:
- Jan: Sake & Other Pairings for Asian Food:
Sushi and Wine? Totally fine! Here’s 21 to try in 2021
- Feb: BIPOC and LGBTQ Winemakers/ Owners:
Camins 2 Deams: When a Chumash Winemaker Meets a Spanish One and Sparks Fly
- March: Washington’s Yakima Valley
Washington Syrah With Lamb
- April: Under the Radar European Wine Region
3 Wine from Sicily’s Etna Paired with Pork Sugo
- May: Middle Eastern Pairings
South Africa’s Organic Reyneke Syrah and Chenin Blanc with Instant Pot Persian Lamb
- June: Wine Pairings for Hard to Pair Foods
A+ Pairings for Asparagus, Arugula, and Artichokes with organic wines from Alsace, Argentina, Australia, and Austria
- July: Midwestern US
Indiana’s Oliver’s Surprising Fruit Wines Paired with Deviled Eggs, Roasted Peach Salad, Berry Galette
- Aug: Amphora Wines hosted here on Wine Predator
Where we’re going:
- Sept: Organic Wine — and we’re hosting!
- Oct: #MerlotMe with host Jeff Burrows
- Nov: Paso Robles wines with host Lori Budd
- Dec: Greek wines with Deanna Kang