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  • Theresa Downs

Celebrate Spring By Revisiting The Slow Wine Movement 2023 - Wine By Appointment

In March, I was able to attend the Slow Wine Tour in San Francisco after a long four-year absence due to Covid. It was exhilarating to enter the Metreon's City View hall and see the ninety-five wine exhibitors proudly showcasing their wares from Italy, California, and Oregon! It was wonderful to see new as well as old friends.

An explanation: the Slow Wine movement grew out of the Slow Food movement. It started in 1980s Italy by Carlo Petrini, who grew alarmed at what he saw as an invasion of fast food, i.e., McDonald's. He wanted to preserve the Italian food heritage of quality food from local farmers. Hence, the principles of the Movement became good, clean, and fair, meaning quality food produced in a sustainable way that supported farmers and artisans while being available to consumers. Slow wine focuses on producing good, clean, and fair wine by promoting small producers that practice sustainable viticultural processes, emphasizing terroir-driven wines.

Okay, we know what it is now; but what makes wine slow?

To be deemed a slow wine winery, wineries adhere to the following guidelines (regulations vary from country to country and state to state).:

1. A minimum of 70 percent of the grapes must be grown directly by the winery

2. No chemically synthesized fertilizers, herbicides, or ani-botrytis fungicides can be used.

3. Sustainable practices must be used, i.e., limit irrigation use unless necessary.

4. Winery facilities must take into account the landscape where they are built.

5. Minimum intervention with the wine during processing, such as adding sugar, reverse osmosis, or use of oak chips prohibited. (Reverse osmosis is a process to adjust the level of alcohol in wine.)

6. Sulfite additions cannot exceed the limits established by the governing body, i.e., state, country

7. The wines reflect their place of origin; fermentation using native yeast is highly encouraged

8. Wineries must remove defects that would interfere with the regional identity of the wine.

9. Wineries need to be invested in fostering growth within their communities.

10. Biodiversity practices are encouraged: soil management, protection of pollinators, planting cover crops, inter-planting other flora in the vineyard, incorporating animals into the farm system, and utilizing manure and compost.

The Slow Wine Movement has developed some snazzy icons to guide consumers when evaluating slow wine wineries. The Movement bestows a Snail insignia for wineries that produce high-quality wines, originality, and response for the land and environment. A Bottle goes to wineries whose wines represent benchmarks in quality, and a Coin is awarded to wineries that produce wines deemed to be of excellent value.

So, on to the important stuff, like tasting the wine and snacking on the wonderful bites the organizers provided for munching while sipping.

It was lovely to see some old friends represented and some new friends. Here are a few of the winery exhibits I was lucky to visit.

I honed in on the Contratto winery immediately when I spotted their exhibit. We were lucky enough to visit Contratto last summer; what a wonderful experience! Short of flying several thousand miles, enjoying a bottle of their wonderful sparkingly is a close second.

It was nice to see The Donum Estates proudly pouring their much-venerated wine (and with good reason). We highly recommend visiting The Donum Estates if you're ever in Sonoma to sample their incomparable wine and view their amazing artwork.

If you love Pinot Noir, this is a wine you must try. We always make a point of stopping in Dundee to visit Evening Land when in Oregon.

Another Oregonian winery worth mentioning. It was nice to see Oregon so well represented.

The Oltrepo Pavese region in Northern Italy is known for its stellar Pinot Noir (one of the main reasons I visited last summer). I made a beeline for their exhibit and made another new friend!

I love Valpolicella wines; I was delighted to see Rubinelli Vajol's exhibit. I could quickly see why this was one of the top-rated wineries of Slow Wine 2023.

For more information about the Slow Wine Movement, visit

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