Making a Difference
By Louise Wilson MW
The enjoyment of wine and spirits has always been about so much more than just how they taste. The most delightful of these sips engage us with their story. They reflect the dedication and ingenuity of the winemakers and distillers that poured themselves into each bottle. Another important consideration for today’s wine or spirits lover is something that Wine Intelligence calls “ethical consumerism”. We expect the beverages we purchase to make a difference and to be contributing to the bigger picture.
Across our Cellars, Opimian’s producer partners are committed to making the world a better place for us all. In Portugal, Boas Quintas has been a supporter of Portugal’s Institute for The Conservation of Nature and Forests since 2014. They are committed to monitoring and measuring their impact on nature and sharing their knowledge with consumers and partners. The winery has reduced the use of pesticides by encouraging insect-eating bats with roosting boxes positioned across the property. Thanks to the winery’s commitment to protecting endangered species, several rare birds including the Spoonbill, the Black Ibis, and the Red Heron are found in the Boas Quintas vineyards and neighbouring wetlands.
In California, Hook & Ladder proprietors Christine and Cecil De Loach have long had a focus on sustainability. In 1999, Christine contributed to the establishment of the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing. Their farming practices include using cover crops between the vineyard rows to invigorate the soil with nutrients while populations of beneficial insects and birds are encouraged to increase biodiversity in the vineyard. Supporting the community is also an integral part of the Hook & Ladder philosophy. Every month they work with a local charitable organization, creating events and campaigns as a way to give back.
Mountain View Vintners has addressed environmental concerns by making mindful packaging choices. Leaders in the space, this conscientious producer sources water-based, bio-degradable labels from the first Certified Green Printer in Northern California, Galaxy Press. In addition, the bottles that hold Mountain View wines are made from 75% recycled glass while the case cartons are produced from 85% post-consumer recycled paper.
At Kautz Family Vineyards, the family has been practicing sustainability for over 35 years. Stephen Kautz describes it as “looking at the trees and the forest at the same time,” and considers future generations by taking a long-term view in the decisions that they make. They have been instrumental in rescuing the wood duck from extinction by placing nesting boxes on their estate. Deer are permitted in the vineyard too. Even though they eat some of the Kautz’s prized grapes, the family knows that they are part of a healthy and diverse ecosystem. Additional strategies include irrigation with grey water to conserve energy and reduce the strain on the water supply. Energy is further conserved by heating the property’s buildings with solar-powered heated floors.
In Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the Holloran vineyards are farmed organically or biodynamically. All key vineyard tasks such as shoot-thinning and positioning, leaf removal, crop reduction, and hedging are performed by hand. As a result of their viticultural effort, the Holloran vines produce riper fruit and develop deeper roots that can access more of the varied mineral layers of the soil. In the glass, the wines reflect an increased complexity and more concentrated mid-palate flavours.
In Price Edward County, Ontario, vintner Sherry Karlo and partner Saxe Brickenden are responsible for producing the first certified vegan wine in the world. Not only do Karlo Estates wines appeal to the growing number of consumers interested in plant-based consumption, but forgoing the use of any animal-based products reduces the winery’s carbon footprint. If you are wondering why all wine is not vegan, it is often due to the use of animal-based fining materials. If you are interested in learning more on this topic, you might wish to read my research paper “An Investigation into Consumer Attitudes Toward Vegan and Vegetarian wine in Canada” which can be found on the Master of Wine Website at https://www.mastersofwine.org/rp.
These are just a few examples of our many Opimian wine and spirit-making partners who are not only dedicated to exceptional craftsmanship and providing great value but who also strive to make a difference. We hope you enjoy hearing their stories and getting to know all the quality-minded producers that have contributed to this Cellar.
Louise Wilson MW lives in the Niagara region and is one of ten Masters of Wine based in Canada. Louise is especially passionate about the opportunity wine provides for continual learning and new experiences.
Order the Pica Peixe by September 19, 2022