“According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, at current rates of soil loss, driven largely by poor farming practice, we have just 60 years of harvests left.”
Source: The Guardian
My own journey into wine started at around the age of fifteen, with a bottle of 1972 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a rogue bottle that somehow found it’s way back from Scotland after a visit to my Grandma and Grandpa’s. Sorry about that guys, I was young and foolish.
Famed for its red wines, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. I had no idea that it was an incredibly good, (and expensive) bottle of wine and my friend and I quaffed it in my back garden, Dutch courage to bolster our luck, as we vied for the attention of a visiting Spanish girl, staying across the road. Back then, we all knew each other on our street, doors were left open, and it wasn’t unusual to find one of your friend’s brothers sat in the kitchen helping himself to a bowl of cereal, or returning a borrowed bike (albeit with a puncture!).
Times change and the doors are locked, most of the original people that lived on our street have passed over to the spirit world now, houses have been refurbished, the chicken run in our back garden could well be paved over, a rubber tyre would not be fixed with spoons anymore, it would be discarded and left, what a throwaway society we live in now.
Back then, I noticed the birds singing in the skies, as they flew by chasing insects, or floating on the wind to some transatlantic hot spot, alright for some! Even now, living in the rural west coast of Ireland, I cannot help but witness a dramatic loss of birdsong. The sky seems a lot less busy, air traffic control for our feathered friends seems next-to-non-existent, the chaos in the order has gone and now the order brings another chaos.
Most of our common field birds, as we know, thrive on insects, mice and other small creatures, they use trees or sheltered ground to build their nest and live out their destiny. Cut down the trees, pollute the soil, and it’s no wonder that the decline of species is inevitable, and not just birds.
In his article in The Guardian from Friday October 20th 2017, Monbiot states; “A study published this week in the journal Plos One reveals that flying insects surveyed on nature reserves in Germany have declined by 76% in 27 years. The most likely cause of this Insectageddon is that the land surrounding those reserves has become hostile to them: the volume of pesticides and the destruction of habitat have turned farmland into a wildlife desert.”
I implore you to read the article and to take whatever action you can. Here is the link again: The Guardian
My wine journey took a break of approximately 30yrs, then a series of events led me to Ireland (namely the need to move to the sea to be able to surf more frequently). I opened a wine bar and within the year, I discovered ‘Natural Wine’, another door opened that I cannot now close.
Natural wine growers have a closer relationship to the earth, they don’t spray harmful chemicals on their vines and they encourage healthy vines through healthy vineyards, this includes a better (more natural) space for all species to thrive. Commercial vineyards (and I use the term ‘vineyard’ in the loosest possible way), have no respect for the land, for the people that drink their wines or for the planet. They put profit before planet, otherwise, why have such monolithic, monocultural plots. They are killing the soil, killing the animals and plants that once thrived on and in the soil.
Natural wine is not a choice, for me it is a necessity. Just as organic food is, as developing a lifestyle that is conducive to a better planet, a healthier planet. It is a difficult journey to make and it’s not easy for instance to avoid palm oil or buy GMO-free. As a result however, I am becoming a better person for it, you are what you eat – maybe so!
Every bottle of natural wine I sell here in The Gallery, tells a story, it reveals a connection to the land and threads a common ideology between us, grower and gulper. So I sit here listening to Van Morrison, and his words are ‘feeling stranded’ from his album ‘Magic Time’ and can’t help but feel stranded. Perhaps each decision we make to have less impact on resources and more positive impact on the planet, is a paddle towards the shore of redemption, of hope, of getting back to our natural rhythms.