At hotels and restaurants around the country, sustainable, local, farm-fresh foods are gaining solid inroads, making it easier for green-minded planners to choose well for their events. But have you ever thought about the wine you're serving? Turn to Brian Freedman, a restaurant and wine consultant, and a wine educator, who has thought about it extensively. He recently taught two seminars at the International Association of Conference Centres' annual conference for the Americas chapter (yes, there were tastings, always fun during the last session of the day), where he took time to speak to M&C about the three types of vintages planners can look into: sustainable, organic and biodynamic.
"Sustainable wines are probably the easiest and most cost-effective to implement," says Freedman. These vintages are farmed and produced in a way that leaves the environment no worse in any way than before the planting. This basic level came about as an antidote to how some winemakers and grape growers had gotten away from their simple roots, dumping pesticides and more in the grounds to manage the growing; ultimately, these practices had long-term, negative effects on the land.
For organic wines, Freedman says there are two types to consider: Wine made with organic grapes (where the grapes have been grown in an organic manner) and organic wine (where the grapes have been grown in an organic manner, and all the wine-making processes are organic, as well). While you can find vintages that have been certified organic, gaining that certification is expensive, a cost that many smaller producers can't afford. So if you're investigating a boutique label, ask questions to ascertain what the growing and producing process has been.
Biodynamic wine production takes an even more whole-earth approach. "They are produced under the umbrella idea that the entirety of the environment and world is one inter-related system," says Freedman. These winemakers take sustainability and organics into account, as well as phases of the moon, astrological influences and more.
Freedman has a few suggestions for planners looking to go this route with their evening events: "Parducci makes some very nice wines, as do Lapostolle and Benziger." In particular, he likes the Parducci pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc; the Benziger Syrah and cabernet sauvignon; and the Lapostolle cuvée Alexandre Carmenère; for lovers of the bubbly, he lauds Domaine Carneros Brut by Taittinger.