Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Texas Wine Anyone?

Not for Greenling. At least not yet. This has been rather heart-wrenching and has created quite a few inquiries. But here's the bottom line - It's hard to grow wine grapes in Texas. Really hard. So you can pretty much assume if someone is creating wine from Texas grapes they dumped lots of chemicals on those grapes to get them to grow. And I'm not talking a little liquid Nitrogen to give them that growth-spurt in the spring. I'm talking boatloads of all sorts of chemicals to ward off diseases, fungi, bugs, etc. You name it and it probably likes to feast on the oh-so-delicate Vitis vinifera grapevines struggling for survival in Texas climates.

It's not pretty. So, what's a self-respecting, Sustainability-oriented company to do? Well, we carry Sustainable wines not from Texas and will wait for intervention for the poor Texas grapes. I hear that Becker vineyards is working on some wine from imported, organically grown, grapes. At least that would be locally produced. And our good friend, Scott Collier, at Rockroom wines has some incredible wines that are just waiting on Texas Distribution.

It was an incredibly tough choice to leave these off the menu. The best way to achieve the advancements to get to Sustainable Texas wines is to encourage and support Texas wines. But we just can't support anything that damages the environment. We hope you understand. And if you know of any environmentally responsible Texas wine operations, please let us know!

When we introduced the Parducci Sustainable Red and White, sales shot up above any other wine and I wondered if there was a misconception about our wines. Every single one of them can be called 'Sustainable,' though they may have different approaches to the term. Here's the skinny on just a few of our wine choices -

Bonterra - These guys were one of the first to get Organic certification for their wines. They're a great $15 bottle that supports people who are committed to the Organic seal.
Chimango - From Argentina, this is one of the lowest priced certified Organic wines combining the seal with affordability. Pick up the Cab or Malbec Rose for only $8.99
Joseph Drouhin - This winery has been cultivated by the same family for over 130 years. Using biodynamic farming (some call it 'beyond Organic') the Drouhin family uses only natural products with the utmost respect for the soil, the vine, and the environment. Learn more about them here - http://www.drouhin.com/en/index.php

And many more! Great wines you can feel good about buying and drinking. I'll talk about our beer selection next time. Add beer & wine to your order here (As usual, I'm sorry to report that TABC only lets us deliver alcohol in Travis County) - http://www.greenling.com/categories/35/products

And a quick side note on the TABC - It's actually quite incredible that we're able to deliver wine and beer at all! We're very happy to have worked with TABC to ensure we have the right security measures in place and the right kind of permit. It actually took 18 months to work through all of this. One of the rules we just couldn't work around was that we can only deliver within the county where we're located. So, there you have it. We've thought about having satellite locations in surrounding counties so that we can deliver all over....but we'll only go through this long, arduous process again if sales of these items really pick up. So, to all who don't live in Travis county, encourage all of your Travis-county-living friends to order so we can justify expanding this option.

Mason Arnold
Founder & Cookie Monster - www.Greenling.com

3 comments:

Mason Arnold said...

Follow-up - we also struggled with the Sustainability of carrying wine from other countries. Through lots of debate we reached the conclusion that to help the entire wine industry move closer to Sustainability we wanted to support wineries doing the right thing wherever they are.

And since we couldn't find Sustainabiliy-oriented wines in Texas it became hard to decide where to draw the line on distance from us. So we didn't. If you really, really want your beverages to be Sustainable in the local sense then you probably just shouldn't drink wine. Unless it's Mustang wine distilled in your garage.

Jeff said...

You might want to research a little further on your claim that wine grapes struggle to grow in Texas. While most grapes cannot grow in the soils, due to disease and wrong soil balances, there is one grape that thrives here... the Lenoir or Black Spanish grape.

Many vineyards are switching to the Lenoir and are becoming very successful thanks to this relentless grape. No chemicals at the levels you claim, but basic pesticides in the off season and each has there own method of feeding and starving the grapes for that added flavor.

Ben said...

Just had a Texas wine from Cap-Rock (their 2008 Viognier) that was made from organic grapes. Some friends of mine grew the grapes, so it is a single vineyard organically grown wine. Don't know much about the details of the actual wine-making, but the grapes at least are organic. My understanding is that it is the only Texas produced wine to have a "Made From Organic Grapes" label.