Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Slow Wine Releases New Manifesto; Includes Employees and the Environment

(For those of you who can understand Italian, see the video on Faeebook here.) 

On Sunday, Slow Wine officials in Italy announced its new manifesto intending to create an international community of like minded vintners. A broader standard than organic materials based certification and biodynamic materials and process certification, the manifesto asks producers to also include employees and the environment in the scope of its efforts. 

You can read coverage of the announcement event here

Here's the English translation of the manifesto. 

Note: Producers in the Slow Wine Guides currently on the market may not meet these standards; the manifesto is more of a statement of principles to aspire to than an actual standard. 

In the Slow Wine Guide 2020*, by my informal tally, roughly 17 percent of wineries featured in the U.S. guide met this standard.

1 - Wineries must directly cultivate at least 70% of the grapes used for the production of wines (exceptions are made for some areas that traditionally have a large trade of grapes, such as Madeira, Napa Valley, Southern Spain…).

2 - Wineries must not use fertilizers, herbicides and antibacterial agents deriving from synthetic chemistry.

3 - The use of environmental resources for wine production must be responsible and sustainable. The use of irrigation systems must be limited as much as possible, and aimed at avoiding cases of severe water stress.

4 – Any new company buildings to be built, must respect the landscape. Regarding buildings that already exist, any eventual renovation and their management must take into account environmental sustainability.

5 - Wineries must not use reverse osmosis or physical methods of must concentration. Furthermore, except for sparkling wines or wines that traditionally require it, MCR (Rectified Concentrated Must) or sugar (depending on the country of production) must not be used. The use of shavings is not taken into consideration to flavor wines.

6 - The amount of sulfur in the wine must not exceed the limits indicated in the European Union organic wine certification.

7 - The wines must reflect the terroir of origin. This is the reason we welcome the use of indigenous yeasts as well as scientific research aimed at isolating native yeasts, which can then be replicated and used by the company or by several winemakers of the same area and denomination.

8 - Wines must be free of the major oenological defects, because these tend to make the wines homogeneous and flatten the territorial differences.

9 - It is desirable that the winery actively collaborates with the entire agricultural community in order to enhance the agricultural system of the territorial area where it produces. In this regard, it is absolutely necessary for the winery to maintain a virtuous relationship with its collaborators and employees, encouraging their personal and professional growth, and it is equally necessary for the winery to collaborate and share knowledge with other winemakers in the area, avoiding unfair competition.

10 - The sustainable winemaker encourages biodiversity through practices such as: alternating the vineyard with hedges and wooded areas; soil management that includes grassing and green manure and that excludes, in any case, bare soil, except for short, seasonal periods; protecting pollinating insects and useful fauna by preferably using the insecticides allowed in organic farming, in case such interventions are necessary, but in any case avoiding using them during the flowering of the vine and other herbaceous species present in the vineyard; breeding animals in respect of their well-being and the production of manure on the farm, and the company's production of compost from pruning residues and other organic materials.

*I was a senior editor of Slow Wine Guide in 2020 and wrote many of the California entries that year. (along with a team of other writers). I have continued to work for the 2021 Guide, writing about both California and Oregon wines and producers). 

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