The True Cost of Cheap Wine

Since everyone seems to be weighing in on the Bianca Bosker-Cork Dork controversy I’d like to add my own two cents. I’m a bit disappointed that we missed a great opportunity for constructive debate on several key issues, but I’m truly beside myself that what little discussion did take place turned frivolous with petty charges of wine snobbery and elitism. Crowded out […]

Profile: Weinbau Markus Ruch (Neunkirch, Schaffhausen)

There’s no easy way to shake things up in conservative rural Switzerland. Take the wine business, for example, and the plight of Markus Ruch. Some nonplussed locals have asked how a newcomer has the nerve to charge more for his wine than do legacy wineries. Other local skeptics want to know why he plumps for biodynamics when conventional agriculture works just fine. Still others wonder why he does women’s work by […]

Heritage Grapes: A Return to Diversity

The 20th century trend toward monoculture and industrial farming has touched nearly all aspects of the agrarian economy including viticulture and the wine industry. Fortunately, the citations and figures below may represent a high water mark as the forces for agro-biodiversity gain momentum and start to chip away at these startling numbers. Out of around […]

Profile: Cru de l’Hôpital (Môtier, Fribourg)

The angelic mien and soft-spoken pitch of Christian Vessaz, winemaker and director of Cru de l’Hôpital in the village of Môtier, does not fully assuage a gut feeling I have that beneath the reserve are two frantically paddling feet—a not inappropriate image in this lakes region of the Swiss plateau. It also happens to be […]

Natural Wine Part 2: Whither go the Swiss?

In Natural Wine Part 1: What Is It?—published in this blog on January 5, 2016 (see Menu)— I explored the current understanding of the term “natural” wine and the confusing lack of defining standards. Even though consensus is elusive—and maybe that’s how it should be—there is one thing everyone agrees on: a “natural” wine is […]