Wine Grapes and the "Dirty Dozen" Foods

I recently received an email from a reader asking about the "Dirty Dozen" of top 12 foods you should buy organic and how this affects wine.  Imported grapes are on the list at #10.  Vineyards can be sprayed by multiple pesticides and no matter how much you wash them, the contaminants have already penetrated their thin skins.  Another point to remember about this is that it does not only apply to imported grapes.  Domestic grapes are still on the EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides (at #21).  Also, this applies mainly to grapes grown for food and juice.  As for wine, vineyards are normally maintained by the farmers following sustainable guidelines.  In Europe, the European Crop Protection Association keeps a close eye on both grape and wine production.  For those who use pesticides, testing is conducted to ensure they do not surpass the maximum residue level for contamination level.  In almost all cases, contamination is at zero after the wine is ready for bottling.  Australia has strict government guidelines as well. 

In the United States, I am sorry to say, it's business as usual.  It is up to producers, landowners and citizens to watchdog themselves.  I am proud to say that many Americans have stepped up to watch over their land and their neighbors.  Most realize that it's a small and beneficial change over to organic practices.  Large producers like Fetzer, Sutter Home and Frog's Leap took the plunge into organics to create a safer environment for their workers and for preservation of the vineyards and water supply.

My best recommendation would be to go with producers who use sustainably, organically and/or biodynamically farmed grapes ("green grapes").  European and Australian wines should be fine as well.  Unfortunately, due to the lax regulations in the US, I cannot vouch for our producers who don't use green grapes.  Visit producer websites, research or contact them for more info.  After all, it's your health, your money and your wine experience!

Client Spotlight: Catbridge Cellars Grand Opening

When: Friday, Nov. 20, 11am to 8pm.  Saturday, Nov. 21, 11am to 8pm.  Sunday, Nov. 22, 12am to 5pm.

Where: Catbridge CellarsAntioch.

If you live in or will be near the Antioch area, make sure to stop by Catbridge Cellars, where one of my favorite clients, Cathy Williams, has just opened shop.  It's a great combination wine bar and shop, which features wines made by environmentally conscious producers.  I recently selected and helped Cathy stock her venue with over 160 wines, almost all of them made with grapes grown organically and biodynamically, and all sustainably farmed.  There are fourteen wines available by the glass, like organic choices Pavi Pinot Grigio, St. Cosme "Little James Basket Press" Grenache, Clara Benegas Chardonnay, and Gouguenheim Malbec.  Cathy will also be opening special bottles and offering cheese for the event.

The shop is a small walk from the Metra North Central Service Antioch Station, and, if you are driving, is just off the Rosecrans Road (route 173) exit of I-94.

For more things to do nearby, there is also the PM&L Theatre, and David's Bistro, who's appetizer menu will be available in Catbridge Cellars wine bar as well.