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29
Mar
by Corina

I’ve noticed a new trend in organic wines, but I don’t know why they are better or where to get them. What do you suggest?

Most events aren’t complete without wine, and today organic wines are ripe for the picking and easy to find. With grapes at the top of the list of most chemically “sprayed” fruit (University of California reports over 2 million pounds of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and other chemicals used on Napa County grapes) it’s a good idea to treat you and your guests to something healthier.

So what exactly makes wine organic? Basically the farmers that grow organic grapes today practice old fashioned principals for organic production; using materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems. Organic grapes are grown without artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemicals, encouraging the natural pest/predator balance, and according to the farmers, stimulates healthy plant growth and enhances the overall flavor and quality of the fruit.

Organic grape growing includes an approach developed in the 1920’s called biodynamic farming. This method encourages plant and animal diversity for the overall success of the product. Farms like Bonterra Vineyards in California take time to cultivate their animal diversity as much as the plants. They build birdhouses to attract diversity and to ward off harmful insects. They also leave native oak trees in place and plant cypress and helpful plants like lavender on the landscape. Organic farming embraces the natural checks and balances in nature that allows for full expression of the earth, giving rise to vines that truly thrive!

The success over the last six years of industry leaders like Bonterra has paved the way for a crop of new organic options for the modern wine consumer. Unfortunately a lot of these wineries aren’t promoting themselves as organic and biodynamic, mostly because of the hassle of becoming certified. Because the USDA does not allow the use of sulfides in a certified organic wine, some vintners are out of luck, but others like Coturri Winery who offer one of the purest organic wines on the market, don’t want the USDA stamp “because they simply want to be known as a traditional fine wine.” (SF Gate, 2006)

So here is a short list to help you with your next party wine selection. For a more comprehensive list, go check out The Organic Wine List:

27
Mar
by Corina


I don’t know if you saw what I did, but Valentine’s week brought a slew of green wedding articles, tips, blogs and magazine coverage. Most notably was the NY Times report on “How Green Was My Wedding?“ which seems to have stirred the pot, making the conversation of green weddings HOT, HOT, HOT!

Until recently the concept of green weddings has been covered by the organic and more sustainable media circles but has not been a conversation inside the bridal magazines and other mainstream media. I’ve been following this now for about six years and my favorite coverage until now was the Organic Style magazine March 2005 issue that covered Alicia Silverstone’s green wedding for its vegetarian menu, recycled wine barrel and bamboo bar, and the stunning location in Lake Tahoe California.

“So why now, all of a sudden?” I keep asking myself. My assessment is that along with this new green wave hitting society–ie: the success of movies like An Inconvenient Truth, celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio bringing attention to going green, and even the Economist is reporting of The Greening of America etc.– society seems to be embracing environmentally and socially responsible activities everywhere…including now the most memorable event of our lifetimes, the wedding! There are the cynics out there that think greening an event like a wedding isn’t going to do much for saving the planet, especially because weddings are often about grotesque abundance and carry that “more is better” attitude. But I disagree…obviously, being a green wedding planner myself, I would!

We may just think of a wedding event as something that happens quickly, and doesn’t really add up to much, but it actually is much, much more than we realize. Weddings are a huge industry, generating $139 billon a year spent on rings, venues, engagement parties, the ceremony and reception, gowns, rentals, the honeymoon, etc. If we trace the lifecycle of the most popular products and services that go into an event of this magnitude, we will see some of the worst environmental degradation caused: the earth scares left from mining for the gold that goes into the wedding ring; the damage caused by over 200 pesticides and fungicides sprayed on the roses that go into the bouquets (which 40% of those are typically banned in the US); and the horrific social injustices experienced by diamond miners and flower growers in Africa and South America. This is why choosing recycled gold rings, local and organic flowers, and conflict-free diamonds is better for the planet and for future generations to come.

These are just a few of the products I’m using as an example of how deep you can take the greening of your event, it can of course go much farther. There are many shades of green and it is up to the couple to choose how deep they want to go– organic cake, organic, flowers, recycled rings, and much much more! I thought the NY Times article was a truly great overview of how couples are making choices that integrate their environmental and social values into this landmark event and doing it in simple, meaningful ways that don’t break the budget. Examples included were of brides handcrafting ceramic gifts for guests, purchasing carbon offsets by donating to tree planting operations, and having their event at a local farm to support local, organic agriculture. These are wonderful, values driven gestures that all couples can integrate here and there into their event, bringing added value and spirit, and making it a memorable experience for all. I hope you’ll help promote a pretty and purposeful wedding the next time you are involved in a wedding yourself!

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