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Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Find, June 27th

Each Friday we highlight a wine from the Northwest that we think is a real "find." By find we might mean that it's a steal, as all of these wines we'll feature weekly are at or under $20. We might also mean "Hey, you really need to go find this", and it might be a wine that we feel not enough people know about. In any case, with the weekend pending, we're hoping to help you "find" a wine to kickoff the weekend right. We'll tell you a little bit about the wine and try to help you track it down here in the Northwest.



Yesterday I accepted an award as the Washington State Formal University Educator  for Sustainability 2014 from an organization called E3 Washington. That's cool. I don't usually get awards, for anything. In my other life where I earn money to pay for things, as opposed to just writing about wine a couple times a week for zero dollars, I do work in sustainability outreach and education at a University. A really large one. My job in this capacity is to try and get university students to pay attention to and understand the various elements of the campus that contribute to a more sustainable planet, and to participate in those elements in a way that allows us to maximize the potential of green buildings, composting, recycling, etc. 


I was thrilled to receive an award for my work; but over the course of the evening I learned about the work of a woman named Frances Charles, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe's successful efforts and collaboration in the removal of two dams along the Elwha river and the restoration of the river ecosystem as well as important land to their heritage and ancestry. I felt like the work I do paled in comparison. 


The deconstruction of two dams began in 2011, the first, the Elwha Dam, built in 1910 began the destruction of one of the more important salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. Forty-five miles of river and one hundred additional miles of tributary were soon reduced to five miles of salmon access. This cut the tribe's people deep, but the salmon and the health of the area even deeper. A second dam was built in 1927 further mucking up the river's ecosystem. Through lobbying, hard work and collaboration with the National Park Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation the dams are coming down and the land and waters are beginning to return to their natural state, the salmon will come back. 


The work of Frances Charles, the tribal council chairwoman and the people of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe point to proof that we can fix what we've broken. As our planet continues each day and our climate and environment continue to deteriorate there are stories of people getting it right. Those stories give me hope that if we can get together, and present real solutions we can see real progress. Maybe I am an optimist after all.

It feels trite to present to you a value priced wine after introducing you to such serious issues, but this is a wine blog after all. Today's Friday Find is not a tough to find wine by a small indie producer, not at all in fact. It comes from fairly sizable label, Snoqualmie Vineyards. Snoqualmie is one of the Chateau Ste Michelle brands and it's vineyards are the largest certified organic vineyards in the state of Washington. Their Eco line of wines, highlight many of the practices that they use across the board. These include the use of Eco glass, a lighter bottle that results in overall carbon emission reduction of 13%, this includes the shipping and transportation realities of  the things we consume, in this case wine. I was asked by Grape Collective what one sustainability element I'd like to see more wineries pursue and the lightweight glass would definitely be it. Snoqualmie has gone further though, their new packaging looks at various issues that can be addressed:

Snoqualmie Packaging Sustainability Overview: 

  • The new ECO glass bottles are among the lightest in the industry (397g) and result in a 13% reduction in carbon emissions. 
  • White wine labels now use EarthLabel™ by Smart Planet Technologies, Inc., an adhesive label system that provides improved barrier performance while reducing plastic content. 
  • Labels and other printed materials are on 100% post‐consumer waste materials stock. 
  • Corks and labels are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council; guaranteeing sustainable practices at the source of origin.  
  • The corks are also certified by the Rainforest Alliance, an international group committed to conserving biodiversity through sustainability. 
The Snoqualmie 2012 ECO Gewurztraminer is a $12 bottle of one of my favorite wine grapes and one I wish I could find more often. Gewurztraminer commutes a bit of rounded fruit and spice with an acid that makes it super food friendly. Ripe pineapple, and honeyed floral aromatics, and a palate with lush, ripe tropical fruits, as well as a kiss of spice and sweetness. The 2011 ECO Cabernet Sauvignon is a well made and approachable example of a cool vintage, fruit focused Cabernet. The wine offers bright red fruits, hints of clove and nice acid. Sixteen months in oak with only a small portion of that being new has mellowed the wine and given it nice mouthfeel with out going overboard. At $13 it's a great buy. The Snoqualmie wines may not be as hip, or indie as a lot of the labels we tend to present but when the big guys are doing the right thing it deserves acknowledgement.   






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