Wine. I love it. You love it. Bacchus loves it. But where does it come from?
Paul and Jacqui grow about seven acres of vines. They grow Sauvignon and Pinot grapes and are Bio-Gro Organic certified. Vineyards are planted in long rows that run north to south. Round about this time of year, it is time to leaf-pluck around the east-facing bunches. And so we spent some time walking down the rows, thinning select leaves to let the sun shine on the small, bright green Sauvignon bunches. You don’t thin on the west side because the sun gets too intense and the little guys can actually get sunburned, eventually cooking on the vine.
I can relate. My skin is forever greasy with thick layers of 85 proof sunscreen. The sun is more intense here. You can really feel it’s power. Sometimes I think it is trying to kill me. I could probably get sunburned my moonlight if I tried. It is a problem. But. I digress.
So you walk down the line, plucking a leaf here and there, enjoying the rhythm of the rustle and snap, letting the grapes get some, but not too much sun. Apparently these shaded grapes produce a taste rich in gooseberry flavors, while more tanned grapes give a sweeter, more tropical, passionfruitish flavor that is so desirable in Sauvignon Blancs.
Because they are organic, their vines are a bit wild. Some plants thrive in great leafy towers, tossing new vines out and up like shaggy arms raised to the sun. Some plants limp along, humble and yellowing, but still bearing fruit. Those vines get a little extra compost love. There is something friendly about the rows, something inviting. I found a birds nest in one. Perfect cup with five bright blue, speckled eggs inside.
This happy scene provides a stark contrast to the vines next door, over the fence, and all over the region. Sprayed with chemicals, beefed up then trimmed back, conventional vines seriously look like a crewcut green army, bulging with ‘roided out super vines. They look like they are marching, like they are coming to get you. Conventional Grapes hold on to more pesticides than other fruits and vegetables. They can be especially dirty with toxins. Big growers sometimes harvest their fruit too early, then spray it with sugar water to achieve maximum sweetness. And that’s just naaasty.
We all know this… but buy small, when you can. Buy organic.