Wine and Politics: What You Can Do

With Califermentation coming up on the heels of a devastating presidential election I feel I need to say something about wine and politics, the election results and how I see it affecting my life’s work.

Organically farmed vineyards are better for the environment. They do not emit as much carbon dioxide and other toxins into the atmosphere. Related to this, they promote a healthy ecological system, preserving animal and plant life that is crucial for a thriving vineyard. Companies such as Monsanto that are highly unethical make many of the synthetic products that are used in vineyards. They know that Roundup is a cancer-causing carcinogen yet continue to market it in the United States as if it is a safe product for people, animals and plants. It is not permitted in Europe. Roundup is but one of a number of dangerous synthetic products used in farming. Viticulturist will tell you it is actually less noxious than some of the others.

Both of the major political parties in this country suck up to agribusiness. I’m under no illusions that Hillary or even my political hero, President Barack Obama, have done enough to protect our environment. This said Obama has had his hands tied by a recalcitrant congress. While both the Democrats and Republicans have relationships with chemical companies and the agriculture lobbies – who do not give a shit about small farmers, let’s not be fooled – the GOP is infinitely worse for organic farming and the planet as they deny the science and refuse to admit that climate change is a man-made thing. This irresponsible stupidity encourages the pollution of the atmosphere and jeopardizes the health of farm workers, many who are migrants.

Without these foreign workers, a lot who are from Mexico and other Latin American countries, we would be fucked and this is true of many industries. Not all are here illegally but those who are are just as badly needed as the Native Americans who perform crucial jobs to keep our economy running. The vast majority work hard, pay taxes and stay out of trouble. They want a better life for themselves and their families, as was true of many of our ancestors.

Organic Carignan being picked at the Poor Vineyard in Mendocino, photo courtesy of Jason Charles, Vinca Minor

Organic Carignan being picked at the Poor Vineyard in Mendocino, photo courtesy of Jason Charles, Vinca Minor

The results of yesterday’s election will no doubt be catastrophic on many levels. As far as organic viticulture is concerned, don’t expect the federal government to do anything to promote it or make it easier for farmers.

Luckily, under Democratic leadership, the great state of California (how do I appreciate having made San Francisco even with its problems my home, let me count the ways) is not anti-science. While there is still much to be done to make organic agriculture less expensive so that everyone can afford it, and accessible so that more farmers can practice it, we at least have a path. Under the new administration – just imagine who Trump will pick to head the EPA if he does not abolish it altogether – a GOP controlled congress, and Trump choosing Supreme Court justices, the future looks bleak.

I have no doubts that the winemakers participating in Califermentation, as well as many others in the wine trade, will be vigilant in their efforts, regardless of their political affiliation, to promote natural winemaking in our state and elsewhere across America. But it is going to be more difficult.

I ask all of you to do your part by supporting the winemakers and farmers who work organically. Many are not certified so you need to ask people in the know or support venues that focus on organically farmed wines. In San Francisco, that means Terroir and Ruby, Ordinaire and The Punchdown in Oakland, Vineyard Gate in Millbrae and Winelandia for online retail. In LA, Lou and Domaine LA are two that come to mind but I am sure there are others. Same for NY and other cities across the country. Feel free to email me, Pamela@thevinguard.com. I am often up late and have nothing better to do besides read boring history books and mess with the cat.  

Sustainability, with all of its benefits – and it has many – allows the use of Roundup so while I applaud the efforts of those who adhere to its standards, it is not enough. If you can make it to Califermentation this weekend you will have a chance to see what not just organic but also naturally made wines are about. However, this is much bigger than a weekend wine fair. It is about choosing to support a future that believes in science and putting the health of people, animal and plant life, and this majestic planet first.

Please consider this when you buy your next bottle of wine.

Disheartened but not giving up – PSB

 

 

 

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