Notes from the Cellar : Cleaning out the attic | PCC Natural Markets

Cleaning out the attic


January 2007

by Jeff Cox, Wine and Beer Merchandiser

December 4, 2006, 6:30 a.m. I’m looking at my mug in the mirror while shaving, thinking about the 27 ticks remaining on the calendar before it’s time to hang up a new one and trying to come up with something profound, an idea that intertwines wine with the new year. Something not too trite.

But all I can conjure is a close-out basket of notions that have been rattling around the gourd for awhile but haven’t quite yet spouted into a full-blown rant. So let’s clean out the attic then, make a mental dump run and start the new year tabula rasa.

Agribusiness is to farming what Wal-Mart is to independent retailers. No amount of marketing, spin or NPR sponsorships will change that. It’s like Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, except the aliens dress in jeans and spout a bunch of (fertilizer) about feeding America (complete with images of pick-ups trucks and Main Street and a Toby Keith soundtrack) while men with soft, clean hands foreclose on real farmers, then run their farms as factories and sell us nutritionally bankrupt “food.”

Proximity doesn’t necessarily mean local. I can think of a litany of brands that grew their roots locally, have local addresses on their letterheads, and play up Northwest cachet in their marketing. But local should mean more than the source of your labor pool, the city and county where you reap your tax credits, and the congressman you lobby.

“It’s the environment, stupid.” Taking care of the planet isn’t politics, it’s a moral choice. Fouling the nest is just plain wrong, no matter whose calf gets fatted. Those who think that they can’t afford to clean up their act need to think again. A healthy environment is sound business.

Luxury isn’t style. It’s the plush insulation that permits those with the means to avoid mixing with the riffraff. Luxury hotels offer a handy metaphor. They’re remarkably similar wherever you go, oases of comfort with decor based on watered-down icons of “local” culture to give the guest the illusion of having traveled.

Eloquence trumps elegance ... oops, that’s nearly 400 words, already. Gotta go. I guess that means that there’s plenty left for “spring cleaning” ...

Happy New Year.

“This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don’t want to mix up emotions with a wine like that. You lose the taste.
       — Ernest Hemingway, “The Sun Also Rises”

Jeff Cox

About the author

Jeff Cox is the wine and beer merchandiser at PCC. Over the years, he's built close relationships with vineyards worldwide and in our neck of the woods. He's even worked with select local vineyards to create some of the spectacular wines we carry.

In addition to this monthly column, check out his featured wines list.