For the most part, winemakers are a responsible lot. They have to be; as stewards of a substance that causes great joy (you and me) and great sorrow (all those victims of cirrhosis, car wrecks, alcohol-fueled felonies) they’ve got to be constantly en garde, adding asterisks—metaphorical and literal—to every label, magazine ad or Super Bowl commercial .
‘Drink responsibly’ they chide, but what it really boils down to is: The only way to guarantee that innocent bystanders remain risk-free when you consume alcohol is to put yourself in a straight jacket, chain yourself to a ceiling joist and suck it through a straw.
Since that won’t happen, winemakers are left with an inevitable guilt complex, and lots of them do the next best thing:
They go green.
The initial irony, of course, is that it is hard to find a multi-billion dollar industry that is so green to begin with. Wine at its essence—the vineyard—demands it. Unlike corn, soybeans, mung beans and other agricultural products, grapes don’t necessarily benefit from chemical fertilizers; a stressed vine makes good wine. That’s a treatise of itself, but essentially, the more grape roots have to search for nutrients, the more trace elements they pick up. Hence, a struggling vine has a better chance to produce a complex, multi-dimensional wine, something for the Holy Grail.
Meanwhile, people aren’t looking for complex, multi-dimensional corn flakes.
So, to win top prize in the wearin’ o’ the green, winemakers tend to focus on stuff they can brag about, like controlling the CO2 emissions which are natural byproducts of winemaking, putting out extra-big Blue Boxes filled with empty Fiji bottles and littering the vineyard with insect traps baited with sex pheromones secreted by females to trap the males and thereby stop reproduction—an aggressive technique that can be summated in a single word: Eeeew.
Cashing In On Catastrophe
Wasn’t there some old Superman movie where Lex Luthor bought up a bunch of Nevada desert so that when California slid into the ocean he’d own the new West Coast? Of course, he’d probably have made more money selling breast-stroke lessons to illegals, who would then have to swim all the way to Oregon to find jobs.
Anyway, in a not-dissimilar move, Miguel Torres, President of Bodegas Torres has planted three hundred acres of pinot noir grapes three thousand feet up, in the Spanish Pyrenees, anticipating that global warming will ultimately make this currently inhospitable terrain viable vineyard country, part of Europe’s new ‘wine belt’, which appears to be moving north at a rate of 25 miles per decade. He anticipates that Rioja may ultimately become too hot to support vines and is making some pre-emptive strikes. (Although, who is planting pinot noir in Rioja in the first place?)
Good one, Mike; you are a genuine visionary, a real ‘if-life-hands-you-lemons type’ of thinker. Never mind that five to 10% of rural Africa may starve to death in the wake of the rising mercury; just so long as us survivors can count on an unlimited supply of Bodega Torres tempranillo.
God should send you an Ice Age instead.
The Color of Money. Real Money, That Is
Good ol’ American greenbacks: The stuff that makes the world go round, the stuff with which Bernie Madoff made off. That wacky, self-invented Euro, that with which Bodega Torres trades, comes in more colors than a sack of Skittles. Who could keep track? And all that ink? That’s gotta be bad for Mother Nature.
Just kidding! It’s All In Fun! Actually, Torres Rocks Green!
Bodega Torres has, in fact, proven a long-term commitment to both a sustainable environment and a sustainable PR campaign, winning the prestigious ‘2010’s Green Company of the Year’ award given out by the equally prestigious European drink rag ‘Drink’. The jury rewarded the winery for improving its systems and procedures to reduce its carbon footprint, minimizing the impact it has on its surroundings and promoting ecological awareness, both among its workers and also among its clients and consumers. Among the initiatives that impressed the panel were Torres’s promotion of a massive wind park, the launching of a macro-project to utilize their biomass (whatever that means), a 2020 goal of reducing their CO2 output by 20%, and a program whereby the contents of the spittoons in their tasting room is recycled to thirsty Africans.
The panel was impressed, but I can’t speak for the Torres Board of Directors. Not sure how Miguel explained the purchase of three hundred frostbitten acres in the Pyrenees in anticipation of Global Warming, then the outlay of millions more to prevent that very disaster from coming down.
I am assuming that the words ‘hedge’ and ‘bet’ were used.
To learn more about Bodega Torres’s ecological projects, check out: