Wine + Sustainability with Elizabeth: Volume 7

Down To Our Roots – The People Behind Sustainability

In the summertime, if I am not at work, there is one place you will typically find me – by the pool, with a good book, the warmth of the sun against my skin, and the option to cool off via cannonball (that is the only way) into the pool. One recent afternoon, I planned to do just that. But when I opened my door and made my way to the end of the sidewalk, the clouds looked pretty gray and ominous….like rain was soon to fall. I turned back towards my apartment to wait it out the next 15 minutes. And sure enough, within just a few moments, the sky opened up. It was now down pouring. My day of soaking up the sun was quickly squashed. And not knowing how long the rain was going to last, I got comfy on the couch and turned on the TV to try and find something to watch.

As I was browsing, I remembered a recent conversation with a customer who had mentioned a wine series that was streaming.  I set out to try and find that. After watching the first episode I was captivated. I plowed through the 3 episodes that are available in what seemed like no time at all. I’m pretty sure I even watched them a second time, right then and there. I knew I wanted to share this series for my next article. And since then, I’ve lost count on how many times I have re-watched it… well, at least the first one, that is.

But, I found myself struggling with how to connect it directly to sustainability. After a week or so of thinking about it, and evidently re-watching it, I realized that everything that they talked about were the very reasons that I went back to school to study plant science – a will to be a farmer, to fuel my passion for agriculture and the connection to the land. It reminded me that those who are working in sustainability do it because of a passion for agriculture and the land. They live and breathe their work – it comes straight from the heart and soul. And an understanding that what you put in, you will get back. The care and nurturing that is given to the land, is given back in pure and hearty fruit.

I was excited to find that the very first episode of “It Starts With Wine,” featured a wine producer that we carry here at Bin 604, Garzon of Uruguay. I confess that, other than the fact that I really enjoyed their Albarino, I did not know much else about them. But by the end of the episode I found myself marking Uruguay as a possibility for my next trip abroad.

Garzon is small agriculture – a cattle grazing town of a few hundred people. Bodega Garzon is only 5 years old.  The soil is ballast, a mixture of broken down granite which allows for great drainage, producing grapes with more intensity and overall smaller yields. They aim to provide wine that is as pure and authentic as possible, so you can recognize it’s origin in this special terroir.

Garzon stays true to the history of Uruguay and it’s food – the rural life. A rural life that keeps them connected to the land and it’s people. They have a knowledge and pace of life that has been lost throughout the years of growth and expansion of cities.

I instantly felt connected to the philosophy of Garzon, the winemaker – Alberto Antonini, those working in the vineyards and why they are doing what they are doing. From an early age, he always wanted to be a farmer. Now considered one of the most respected wine makers in the world, he insists that he is a wine grower. Wine maker is too limiting. He talks about great wine coming from special places and special people. “Terrior is everything. If you have the right terrior, you can produce good grapes. If you have good grapes, you can produce good wine.”  Sounds simple enough, right?

The future of sustainability is going to be forged by the ones who balance getting back to our roots, (pre-industrialization farming) and technology and innovation. I believe that Garzon is doing just that.

Seeking out the winemakers who embody this philosophy and are connected to their land is at the heart of what makes good wine. This series aims to give you an in-depth look at that –  the people behind the wine who are passionate about and care for the land. This belief in terroir and a sense of place in wine is at the core of our mission here at Bin 604.

The wines we love are the product of people, caring for the land that in some cases has been in their family for generations. Letting tradition guide them to the purist and most honest product they could harvest. That is Garzon. That is sustainability. It starts and ends with wine – a story of passion and heart and soul.

The next time I find myself re-watching the Uruguay episode, I surely will be sipping their Albarino and convincing my boyfriend that we need to make reservations at the vineyard’s restaurant – directed by a chef that needs no introduction, Francis Mallman (A Chef’s Table, anyone?). A master of cooking with fire – that is how I want to experience their Tannat.