I just saw a beautiful review by The Wine Economist of our book Biodynamic, Organic and Natural Winemaking: Sustainable Viticulture and Viniculture.
Mike Veseth, The Wine Economist, is professor emeritus of international political economy at the University of Puget Sound. He is also the author of two books, Wine Wars and Extreme Wine. Today I have the impression that he is more involved with wine than with education… His wine blog, The Wine Economist, is one of the most original and interesting wine blogs around.
Some excerpts from the review:
It’s really not that easy being green if you are a winegrower or wine maker. For a long time green wines (organic, biodynamic, sustainable and so forth) were not a very dynamic category here in the U.S. […] Some research actually suggested [consumers] actually valued [green wines] less than other wines. […] Much different from Europe, where “bio” wines are a strong category. This is changing and I expect to see green wine sales grow, albeit from its current small base. The dynamic is driven by both supply and demand. […]
I expect to see green wine sales grow, albeit from its current small base. The dynamic is driven by both supply and demand. On the supply side, more and more wine grape growers and producers simply want to be green — they see it as the best way to do business, especially in the long run — and want to advertise that fact and develop the market category. […]
Britt and Per Karlsson[‘s] […] book […] is a welcome green wine primer. Its scope is broad, including organic, biodynamic, sustainable and natural viticulture and winemaking. The Karlssons provide good depth and detail, covering the science, economics and regulatory politics of green wine today. Theory and practice, just what you need. […]
The book is clearly written and organized and lavishly illustrated with color photos that are both beautiful and informative. I learned something new in every chapter, but I was especially interested in the biodynamics section. The combination of thorough research and personal interviews with growers and winemakers made this material come alive for me. […]
The Karlssons present all this information objectively and openly question some of the most extreme claims of green wine proponents, but I don’t think you write a book like this unless you think there is something in the concept itself. […]
This is a fine book and worth your attention.
Many thanks to Mike Veseth for these beautiful words. Do go over to The Wine Economist blog and read the whole review: Not That Easy Being Green (Wine)!
In the same post Mike also review another book, by John Kiger: A Vineyard Odyssey: The Organic Fight to Save Wine from the Ravages of Nature. Very different but on the same subject. Interesting to see what the Wine Economist has to say on it.
I think it is worth elaborating a bit on some of the comments that Mike made in his commentary, in particular in the beginning..
“Europe” is not Europe
The “bad will” that green products have suffered as he describes it in the US is very similar to how it has been, and to some extent still is, “in Europe”. “Europe” is far, very far, from being homogenous in this area. Not many years ago green products had a bad reputation in France (where we live since many years) for instance. They were sold in special shops where you saw dirty, shrivelled vegetables and stale green bread. This has changed in recent years and green products are now much more main-stream in France and are of better quality.
In other countries things are different from country to country. In Scandinavia (our home region) green products have long been accepted and quite popular, as I believe they are also in e.g. Germany and the Netherlands. In some other countries much less so.
It is for example surprising that although Italy is high up on the ranking as a “green wine” producing country it is rare to hear an Italian wine producer talk about being organic.
Today there seems to be a tendency for green to become more and more accepted, not least in wine. One contributing factor is perhaps that today it is compulsory to indicate on the label that the wine is organic if you have an organic certification.
Is “green” driven by supply or demand?
To a large extent the development of green in the wine sector seems to me to be driven more by supply rather than by demand (except in a few markets). It is rare to hear a winemaker say “I make organic wine because there is a greater market demand for it”. It happens, but not often.
It is much more common to hear “we started with organics because we don’t want to spray these dangerous treatments and expose ourselves, our children, our neighbours and our employees to them.”
Organics in the US: too hard rules?
One more comment: the type of regulation for “organic wine” that is currently used in the US may be one of the reasons that organic wine remains a very small niche in the US. There are still, I believe, rather few organic wines that follow the USDA regulations to the full organic extent.
In Europe there is a discussion about possibly making the organic rules stricter. “Is it perhaps too easy to get an organic certification today?”, some say. Perhaps the opposite discussion is needed in the USA?
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