Not sure of how they would keep up on this. Self-reporting? How would they fact-check it? What would the standard even be? While I’m all for passing along as much info as possible it seems this is going down a nebulous PR rabbit hole.
Yeah…those rabbit holes in PasoRobles are legendary!!
You raise legitimate concerns, Jim. This smells more to me like a PR stunt than a legitimate effort to aid their readership. In response to his article
several weeks ago about sustainability efforts by US wineries.
Yeah. Literally any winery can say they are “sustainable” or “green” or “organic” or whatever. How would the WA know? Certifications I guess would be a way to go but that hardly tells the story they are supposedly trying to offer up to readers. Not their fault. I’m just saying over thousands and thousands of wineries and lord knows how many wines how would any one place doing world-survey wine writing be able to do this and feel like they weren’t doing anything but repeating what wineries wanted people to hear?
Speculating, but I doubt a for-profit wine rating service will do all the work of getting all that specific information for every single winery without some payment. It’s not uncommon to have to pay to get certifications.
I think you have misunderstood this, folks. This initiative has two components: one is that we are adding whether a winery or a cuvée produced by a winery is certified organic or biodynamic. A filter has been added to our database so subscribers can search for such wines.
The other is that, for a very small number of wineries that are in some particular respect exemplary in their work in this regard, the reviewers have nominated them for an “Eco-Distinction” award, analogous to the green award Michelin has given out to restaurants. I nominated e.g. Leroy, Roederer, Larmandier-Bernier in my regions. Others include Eyrie in Oregon and Spottswoode in Napa. Every year, more will be nominated. I’m certainly familiar with the work that goes on in the vineyards and wineries of the wineries I nominated, and I know my colleagues are for theirs. While one can certainly think of other wineries that could have been (and indeed may be) nominated, I don’t think anyone will find any of the choices controversial.
Wineries don’t have to pay anything to be listed in either category.
My bad, Neal. I was thinking of the WineSpec’s Restaurants Award. The WA doesn’t do those things & no signs I’ve seen that WA does the Pay To Play game.
To my mind, the WS Restaurants Awards are an absolute joke. They are the classic Pay-to-Play game that the WS is quite exploitive of. You pays your entrance fee & send them
a copy of your list. And they then base their awards on that list you sent. But there is no fact checking of that list. That the restaurant actually has those wines on a list you can buy from.
There have even been examples in the past of phony/non-existent restaurants submitting a list & winning an award.
The copy of the latest Restaurant Awards issue has just come out. Looking at the NM awards, it brings me great mirth. One of SantaFe’s high-end restaurants charges an exhorbitant
400%-500% markup for a list of wines that is totally unthrilling. The Bottega del Vino wine bar at the CHOMP food hall has one of the most interesting wine lists in SantaFe. But they are
not at all interesting in playing the Pay-to-Play wine game. OTOH, another award-winning SantaFe restaurant does play that game and does have a wine list that has a lot
of interesting (to me) wines on it.
Los Alamos has one restaurant that one an award. The wine list is created entirely by National Distributing. Both National & Southern are good at creating you a wine list that will
win you an award. I stopped in ystrday & perused the wine list & there was nothing on it that I would bother to order. Whether it corresponds to the Award-Winning wine list they submitted
I have no idea. But it was singularly uninteresting.
The best LosAlamos restaurant is not in the least bit interested in playing this Pay-to-Play game. They, in fact, have a lot of interesting/well-selected wines on it at a very reasonable markup.
Laura & Dustin do the leg-work and due-diligence to put together an Award-winning wine list that will never win a WS award.
I’ve not seen any direct evidence that the WA plays this Pay-to-Play game. I seriously doubt that they do.
But the Green Emblem was just awarded to only 3 Calif wineries. These awards are apparently nominated by their reviewers. One is Ridge Vnyds. DaveGates definitely does a good job on caring
for their vnyds. But sustainability is not a big thing in their program. TablasCreek is not on their GreenEmblem list in Calif. However, to my mind, there is very few other wineries that are in the
same lofty league as TablasCreek in the sustainability field and Ridge is not one of them. To my mind, not including TablasCreek (and others like Ampelos) w/ a GreenEmblem in the WA
greatly lowers the credibility of that designation. Their reviewers need to up their game.
As William made clear, at this point, other than registering those that are certified, they are basing this on reviewers’ knowledge of the vineyards they review. This is bound to create obvious lacunae in that even well-known vineyards that, for one reason or another, don’t get noticed, will be left off. I’d be willing to give them time to do more research. I don’t read the Wine Advocate so I don’t really care that much, but I think the policy is a good one and it’s worth giving them a reasonable amount of time to develop a systematic method, or their reviewers to get around to doing this with all the wines they review, assuming that’s the plan. If it’s just what they happen to know at any given moment, then, I agree, it won’t be much.
For my money, unless biodynamic really covers something important to the environment that organic leaves out, I’d drop it. Many of its requirements are indeed environmentally friendly, but there’s a also a large amuont of voodoo and I don’t think one such encourage voodoo, especially given the rampant anti-science these days. I don’t mean to turn the thread toward this. The issues are well-known. I was just registering my sense of this particular category of certification.
Well, perhaps, Jonathan. I’ll give their reviewers the benefit of the doubt. But I find it hard to believe not one of their reviewers have had TablasCreek and are not
familiar with the sustainability ethic behind TablasCreek. In ethical management of the vnyds, TCV stands heads & shoulders above the rest in Calif.