August 31, 2011 | He Said, She Said | REX HILL

Natural > Greenwashing > Nascar: How your wine made it to Daytona

He Said...
- Mike Willison

"Thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast, at her, the child of honorable parents, at her, the mother of a babe, that would hereafter be a woman, at her, who had once been innocent, as the figure, the body, the reality of sin."

Hawthorne recognized the importance of brand recognition all too well. The big "A" on Hester Prynne was quickly identifiable to anyone within eyeshot of her as a sinner that had earned their sideways glances and private mutterings. Of course the book reveals all manner of duplicitous behavior on the part of ministers and husbands pretending to be doctors and Prynne, too, and in the end she is not forgiven for her behavior. Rather, Prynne is buried with a headstone that simply has the letter "A" carved into it, forever immortalizing her in shame and sinful behavior.

An easy solution to the greenwashing of the wine industry would be to require that wines made using conventional farming and heaps of chemical yuck-yucks should be required to put something on their labels announcing their many sins. May I suggest a scarlet picture of a bottle of Round-Up? Maybe a skull and Crossbow (bad chemical pun here for you nerdy types)? As a consumer, I too am frustrated by the NASCAR-ing of wine labels, proudly announcing how many certifications they have to signify that they aren't killing the planet with a sticker here and a logo there. Well, bully for you. Good job not being a jerk.

It seems that too many people are quick to pat themselves on the back for doing the right thing. Maybe it is time we start getting a bit more dark and stormy on everyone and work on our campaign of fear. Chances are, the industry will respond pretty quickly and the Shangri-La we all imagine will become a reality.


She Said...
- Carrie Kalscheuer

The greenwashing of wine continues to be a thorn in my side. As "organic" turns into "sustainable" turns into "biodynamic," I wonder where it all will end. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for preserving the environment. I drive a hybrid, recycle and support local and organic farming. But I don’t need to tattoo these facts to my forehead. The blatant self-promotion of all things green is disheartening.  Instead of wanting to preserve Mother Earth for the sake of Mother Earth, becoming green is now trendy.

And the worst part is that this marketing has become necessary. Unless a wine bears some type of "organic" label, the average consumer thinks he is drinking pesticide-laden, environment-depleting swill. This type of advertising is often misleading. Wines made "organically" aren't necessarily better for the environment.  Pesticides are traded for natural fertilizers, which still produce a high amount of greenhouse gases.   Wines made "organically" are often unstable due to lack of preservative use, making for bad wine.  The list goes on.

It’s also largely an American problem. Traditional vineyards in the age-old wine regions in France don’t need this type of advertising. They’ve shunned it in most cases, in fact, although they largely farm much more organically than the restrictions of organic certifications would allow. This seems infinitely nobler to me. We should all be farming this way – both out of respect for the environment and for the simple desire to make good wine. In addition, with global warming looming on our collective horizon, it just makes good sense to farm with extreme care. The world’s wine regions are steadily becoming warmer.  A vintner who doesn’t wish to stave this eventuality off at all costs would be idiotic.

Green should just be done, not talked about.  It should be the norm, not the exception that requires those few who adhere to certain regulations to become "certified" to prove their commitment to the earth. In the same manner that I don’t find it necessary to advertise my commitment to sustainable practices by covering my vehicle in bumper stickers which scream "Buy Local!" and "Ban the Bag!," I don’t want the wine I drink to find it necessary to advertise their commitments to the environment on their bottles in order to compete for sales.


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