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I took my first trip to California's Napa Valley this weekend. Given my love of wine and Napa Valley's reputation as one of the top American Viti-cultural Areas in California.
Napa Valley is beautiful at this time of year - it just the perfect temperature and there is something so fun about stumbling across a small boutique winery off the beaten path and discovering a wine that you'll never find at retail. And one of the wonderful things I learned on my many winery visits was just how far organic wines have come over the past few years (1,200 acres worth in the Napa region alone, in fact).
What does "organic" mean when it comes to wines? It simply means that no chemicals can be used in the vineyard; no chemical fertilizers, weed killers or insecticides. The only substance that is permitted for use is elemental sulfur, which is organic and used to prevent powdery mildew.
Organic wines represent a neat opportunity for pizza operators to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Slice pizzeria, for example promotes an "Organic Wine Pairing Night" at its restaurant in New York. For $35, clients enjoy two glasses of wine, an appetizer, a gourmet pizza entree and dessert. Mobile pizza vendor Beatrice's Inferno, a user of the eco-friendly and multi-functional GreenBox pizza box, is invited many weekends to Galen Glen Vineyard and Winery in Andreas, Penn., and Va La Vineyards in Avondale, Penn., because these winemakers know that pizza and wine together create great draws from their local communities.
So to pizza operators that haven't dipped their feet in the organic and local wine barrels yet - give them a chance. By turning your organic and local wine pairings into a fun experience like Slice founders Miki and Radha Agrawal and Beatrice's Inferno owner Jason Brown, you can generate traffic, help your local and organic vineyards and most importantly, bring something different and more unique to the table than your competitors.
My personal organic fave on my visit to Napa? Frog's Leap! It is a winery that tries not to take itself too seriously and has an impressive list of very good, albeit sometimes a little pricy, wines, including zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, rosé, and even a dessert wine.