Friday, April 22, 2011

Green wine gets new pitchman, The ConsciousWine Guy

This Earth Day wine lovers woke up to a new world of Earth-friendly choices with the public beta of ConsciousWine, a web portal devoted exclusively to wines that are as good for the planet as they are for the palate.

Starring the larger-than-life, 5-foot 6-inch Jeff Weissler, aka “The ConsciousWine Guy,” the site features a webisodic wine show, online radio program, blog and directory covering vintners who grow grapes and make wine the Old World way, naturally.

With a fun, casual style that is anything but snobby, Weissler helps wine lovers and treehuggers alike, get to the heart of what really makes wine green, and good.

“ConsciousWine was born out of two frustrations that I experienced as a wine retailer,” shares Weissler. “First, thanks to industrial agriculture and ‘better living through chemistry,’ wines from all over the world, even different varietals, started tasting the same. Yuck! Second, and sadder still, organic wine did not consistently equal quality, leaving early adopters with a bad taste in their mouth and forcing top-rated certified-organic grape growers to forgo the green stamp of approval for fear of being branded bad.”

To make The List, vintners must create vital, great-tasting wines from sustainably-farmed, organically-grown grapes, and engage in one or more of twelve practices ranging from biodiversity to water conservation to good worker policies. All the featured estates farm exclusively with OMRI-approved products, and many carry Demeter’s Biodynamic® brand, representing the most rigorous and respected sustainability standards in the field.

With no legal definition of sustainability, and more certification schemes than a connoisseur can keep track of, Weissler hopes to help confused consumers make sense of what green really means in the wine world, both on the ground and in the glass. His blog covers virtually every aspect of natural winemaking, focusing mostly on estate wineries that put people and the planet on the same bottom line with profit.

Weissler’s webisodic wine show will feature field reports focused on his twelve practices that give buyers a first-hand look behind the labels at holistic estates such as Ambyth, Cowhorn, Dominio VI, Michel-Schlumberger, Montinore, Paul Dolan, and a handful of hand-picked California and Oregon wineries to start.

As ConsciousWine rolls out to include more wineries and other regions, Weissler’s online audience will get to virtually visit them all, meeting the green scene’s most intriguing vintners, farmers, restaurateurs, sommeliers, and sustainability entrepreneurs.

For millennials on the run who would rather listen to, than read about new releases, Weissler’s tastings and reviews are available exclusively as podcasts, and often feature the winemakers.

This summer, ConsciousWine will also open an online winery-direct shop stocked with fine wine and food from holistic estates considered to be among the best in the United States, most of which go well beyond organic in their principles and practices.

The ConsciousWine Guy is supported by an ensemble cast of all-star friends from Ashland, Oregon, a tiny town that Jeff describes as “the intersection of Old World and New Age” located in Oregon’s up-and-coming Rogue wine region.

Despite being a 30-year veteran of the wine business, having worked for leading companies such as Zachys, Suburban Wine & Spirits, and Domain Selections, Weissler is reluctant to label himself an expert and the first to admit that he’s no sommelier. In his quest to explore the world of conscious wine, he has personally visited and vetted every winery on the website.

“I am a passionately curious tour guide to the emerging world of conscious wine,” shares Jeff. “My main goal is to bridge the grand canyon of public perception between organic farming and quality wine. I aim to debunk destructive market myths about green wine and demystify the seemingly magical processes at play on holistic wine estates that are producing some of the world’s purest and most pleasurable wines.”

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