This blog is a celebration and exploration of all those hundreds of slow grape varieties most of us have never heard of. It is a blog about the native or indigenous — autochthonous — grapes of the world and the wines that are made from them.
My interest in this subject began when our company, Salvia Bianca Imports, began focusing on the importation of premium wines made from historically indigenous grape varietals of southern and central Italy. The pace at which these wines were made and shared was so refreshing we began to call them “slow wines,” and the historical grapes from which they are made “slow grapes.”
In Dry Creek Valley, California Zinfandel is the historical wine grape, and is currently in high demand. No problem. Zinfandel is alive and well in Sonoma County. In Morro d’Alba, Italy, the producers who farm the 250 acres of the heritage Lacrima grape, the smallest appellation in Italy, are not so fortunate. An obscure wine, Lacrima lacks stature in the cultural marketplace.
So can the Vicari family, who has farmed their land for 300 years, continue to grow and produce this unique treasure in the traditional manner and find importers committed to authentic grapes from unique terroir? Can those importers find outlets enlightened enough to appreciate slow grapes and see the economic benefit of introducing their customers to exciting wines that pair well with authentic food?
Unfortunately, without recognition in the global marketplace, the alternative is to sell at whatever price the larger importers are willing to pay. If that means taking shortcuts to keep from losing money then that is the decision many producers of rare grapes are forced to face. Some will decide to tear up heritage grapes in order to replant with international varietals such as cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir.
Slow Grapes believes strongly in preserving the unique wine grapes and terroir synergies still alive by promoting awareness of these slow grapes and encouraging socially responsible marketing strategies. We aim to share passion for autochthonous wine and terroir with an expanding market of curious yet responsible wine aficionados.
Similarly, by bringing attention to heirloom “slow grapes” and exporting them to the ever-expanding global marketplace, we can help protect irreplaceable grapes from extinction and regional economies from creeping corporatization. Keeping these goals in the forefront of our business practices, underscored here by the implementation of this blog, continues to keep us firmly on the path toward a sustainable world agriculture.