The Slow Wine Coalition and its “Environmental Sustainability” Goals Releases First US Guide

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The famous Italian wine organization, slow wine, recently released its USA Slow Wine Guide 2021, compiled by American writer and journalist, educator and author Deborah Parker Wong and her team of field coordinators.

At a time when climate change has never been more evident or more threatening to winemakers and cellar owners globally, the Slow Wine community continues to grow as the guide evolves in its mission to “good, clean and fair” wines.

For the first time ever, the US portion of the 2021 guide becomes an individual publication, separate from Italian wineries, featuring 285 wineries from California, Oregon, Washington and New York. As more environmentally conscious winemakers join their colleagues in the Slow Wine movement, the organization this year asked their partners to sign a manifesto created by the Slow Wine Coalition in a new commitment to sustainable agriculture.

The coalition is a united global network of wine industry members dedicated to supporting a wine revolution focused on environmental sustainability, land protection, and rural, social and cultural growth. The 2021 Guide to American Slow Wine is available numerically as well as the purchase here ($24.95).

PennLive recently sent several questions to Giancarlo Gariglio, editor of the guide. Here are his answers:

Q, In your own words, for my unfamiliar readers, what is the Slow Wine movement and why is it important?

A, In reality, Slow Wine is not [on its own] a movement but is part of a movement called Slow Food, which has been operating internationally since 1990. Slow Wine is the part of Slow Food that deals with wine and develops Slow Food ideas internationally. For us it is very important that the wine is not only very good, but that the grapes are grown with systems of environmental sustainability, respecting the landscape and the people who work in the fields.

Q, Have the principles of the Slow Wine movement evolved in the 10, 11 years since its inception?

A, In recent years a lot has changed, with the birth of new Slow Wine guides all over the world. After Italy (2010), Slovenia (2017), the United States (2018), Macedonia (2021) and China (2022). We are expanding our reach. Additionally, in 2020 we presented the Manifesto of good, clean and fair wine in Bologna. This manifesto (see below), in 10 points, aims to give life to the creation of an international network called the Slow Wine Coalition and which brings together wine lovers, winegrowers and the wine industry. The first international meeting of this Slow Wine Coalition will take place in Bologna from February 26 to March 1. It will be called Slow Wine Fair and has more than 800 registered wine estates, 160 foreigners coming in particular from France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal, but also from the United States, Bulgaria, Romania , Macedonia, South Africa, Argentina, Chile. .

Q, Do the wineries contact you and the staff to visit or select them, how is the selection process, and then how long do the editors stay? Are there any wineries you visit that don’t make it into the guide and get rejected?

A, The particularity of our guide is that we visit all the wineries that are reviewed. It’s a wonderful job that allows us to get to know better the way of working of the producers that we describe in the pages of the guide. Sometimes some wineries don’t want to be reviewed and that’s fine with us, no problem. On the other hand, we decide whether or not to include a winery in our guide depending on the quality of the wines, depending on the working method and the impression it makes on us during our visit.

Q, I’ve seen mentions of specific wines but you largely judge/review wineries rather than wines, yes? Or note both?

A, That’s right, we also have a dedicated wine judging system. Among these we distinguish those that cost less than a certain amount [in Italy, 12 euros; in the U.S. $30 in a wine shop] and we call them Vini Quotidiani (daily drink). So these exceptional wines for quality are TOP wines. Among these TOP wines, we declare “slow wines” those that are made using production techniques that respect the landscape, nature and workers. For the wineries, the system is more or less similar: the wineries which have all the characteristics indicated by Slow Wine as excellent receive the recognition of the “Snail”, those which all make very good wines receive the “Bottle” and the wineries that have an excellent price-quality ratio receive the “Coin”.

According to Giancarlo Gariglio, editor-in-chief of the Slow Wine Guide, “I think that in recent years Slow Wine has created its own audience, very attentive to issues of environmental sustainability and to wines that are born in the vineyard rather than in the cellar” . .’

Q, Are the four states you chose to feature in the guide largely because they are among the largest producers in the country? Are there any other states you plan to add?

A, The United States is huge and for this reason I decided to focus the first year only on California which is traditionally very important in the wine sector, then it was the turn of Oregon which is so famous in Europe thanks to its Pinot Noir. Then we expanded to Washington and New York states because we find them very interesting. The long-term goal is to complete our work globally!

Q, What is stopping more wineries from establishing the goals of the Slow Wine movement and adopting better standards in the winery and vineyard?

A, I think in recent years Slow Wine has created its own following, very attentive to issues of environmental sustainability and to wines that are born in the vineyard rather than in the cellar. The winegrowers have understood this well and are more and more careful to follow the ideas we offer, because they know that enthusiasts appreciate them.

Q, What are some major goals for 2022? Assuming this pandemic is somewhat tamed, what does the organization hope to accomplish in the new year?

A, Our goal in 2022 is to finally have tastings with the public, because it has been difficult to tell and taste the wine only via a camera on Zoom. We therefore hope that the Tour in the USA and the Slow Wine Fair will take place and that the Slow Wine Coalition movement can grow and have more and more people who choose wine according to a quality that is not only linked to the taste, but also to its production methods.

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