One of the big questions in the labeling debate is whether or not listing all the materials used in the production of a wine will even be read by a consumer. It is almost so engrained in to our uneducated minds that a wine is a ‘natural’ product, and that of course there won’t be anything else besides fermented grape juice in the bottle?
I read this article that was publish some years ago now in the New York Times that some winemakers in the US had gone to the lengths of listing all the ingredients that went in to making their wine. The verdict? Well, it was underwhelming to say the least. The winemaker, Randal Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz, California said that mostly consumers took no notice of the newly added information. It is worth noting that Grahm follows the principles of biodynamics, so his ingredient list was very, very minimal.
Does this confirm that consumers just don’t care, or is it a matter of consumers just really being unaware of the processes used in winemaking? I am thinking the latter. A few other winemakers followed Grahm in the US and have begun labeling their bottles appropriately, but this accounts for only a spick of dirt in a vineyard that covers not only the US, but worldwide. The initiative shown by Grahm may not have had an instant impact, but it is a very important step in creating change and moving towards more transparency in winemaking. If more and more winemakers can adopt this approach, then surely this will train people to re evaluate wines over time. There will always be a section of people who just don’t really care, but if you have a look at how far organic foods have come in the last 5-10 years, you would have to conclude that a change is possible.
What do you think?