This past weekend at the wine bloggers conference will give me food for thought for weeks. Definitely still digesting all the amazing people and the abundance of innovative ideas we were presented with in Santa Rosa.
Thanks you Joel Vincent from the OWC! You give deeper meaning to the adage to always pay attention to the quiet one in the room.
But what I thought about this morning as I walked the Silverlake reservoir, was Alice Feiring's speech from Saturday night at Sebastiani.
Tom Wark from Fermentation already has done a masterful post about Alice and her speech.
I want to focus on one comment she made about 'watered down biodynamics'. During the Q&A, I asked Alice to expand on this thought. She responded that Demeter was considering a 3 tier system for biodynamic certification, which is apparently only applicable to the United States. The concern being that biodynamics in the U.S. will lose its meaning and become strictly a marketing tool.
I am very interested in this 3 tier system and will follow up with Demeter itself for further details this week so I can better understand the issue.
But I want to play devils advocate here. And I had a similar discussion with Steven Canter,the winemaker at Quivira, when I attended the walk through their biodynamic vineyards last Saturday.
The natural wine movement is of increasing interest to me. I seem to enjoy the wines sprayed with little or no petrochemicals and undergo minimal cellar manipulation. That is a personal preference and a journey that has brought me much pleasure this past year.
I often seek out those individuals in the wine industry that either make these wines or write about them. But when I start talking about the rapid rise of biodynamics and/or organic grape farming in the United States, I often get a similar dismissive response.
That these newbies to the natural wine movement are not 'natural' (or organic or biodynamic) enough.
I am the eternal optimist (thats how I survive making a living at wine sales and marketing)so my instinctive response is to say, 'But hey, wait a minute, isn't this a good thing that American winemakers are thinking about what chemicals they are spraying and are perhaps spraying less? Isn't it an improvement that they might have to explain what manipulations happen in the cellar and therefore might reconsider acidifying or de-alcholization?
My concern is that the natural wine movement's greatest leaders are hindering its growth in the United States by being overly dogmatic.
My goal is to help make natural wine as accessible as possible to wine consumers and as achievable as possible for wine producers.
I want to meet them where they are at, not insist they begin their journey where I have finished mine.
I want to welcome and encourage them all.
What I love about Alice Feiring is that she goes around starting fires in the wine community..... more than she can put out( my own brother said this to me once and I took it as a compliment, not sure that he meant it as one though).
This is the wonderful 'pot-stirring' aspect that she referred to in her speech.
I love it that she holds the wine industry to a high standard and asks all of us to consider natural wine more carefully.
But the natural wine movement is growing ( Yay! This is the good news).
And with growth comes diversity.