Being a sustainable consumer can mean different things. In today’s bonus episode, I am joined by to Estebe Salgado from WeAreTheWine.com, to discuss sustainable and organic wines. Listen to the end for a little give-away for the holidays.
Frank Byskov 0:02
Being a sustainable consumer can mean different things. And today we will take a look at a topic that from a sustainable investing perspective can be potentially divisive, namely wine.
Some would like to exclude this exposure, while others appreciate the opportunity to enjoy this for the holidays or a social gathering. I'm joined today by Estebe Salgado, a good friend from back in the swimming days at American University and he is the founder of Tradewinds Specialty Imports, a wine distributor that has a pretty large list of wines, including sustainable, organic, and biodynamic options, and today we'll go into what some of these terms mean. So Estebe, welcome to the show.
Estebe Salgado 0:59
Thank you for having me, Frank. It is a pleasure to be here and thank you for the intro.
Frank Byskov 1:08
I'm quite excited to see where this conversation goes today. So let's just dive right in. If you have a wine that is labeled sustainable or organic, what does that mean and are there regional differences?
Estebe Salgado 1:24
I'll start by introducing a little bit, how we know each other, from, I would say, the pool basin, so from water to wine, right. These days are more involved with wine but yes, I formed a company 15 years ago now that with connections that, we're both from Europe, and then you know, we always had that connection with our home country, I am originally from San Sebastian, Spain. So big city when it comes to food, wine, slow food movement and ingredients. And at the end of the day, the environment that we live in, right, so with that concept, you come to another country which is the US, big, huge. And there's a custom into what the US gives us. I think eating habits is one of them and that's what I've been doing, I guess, on the food or wine part, right, restaurants, a lot of restaurant or chefs and that I've met through a 15 years doing this and I think the niche that we created was going again back to the origins, where the ingredients are the most important part right? So in my case, the grapes right? How important the environmental and sustainability factors can seem to make wine, seems very simple, in essence. But, a lot of hard work behind to make sure that you know your crop is proper and, you know, the farm, the harvest, and the whole process through it. It's done the best possible way. With that said, I initiated Tradewinds with the vision that the farmers have to be the actual actors, the people that really cultivate that land and really take care of the crop or in this case their vineyards, they need to be the guys that we work with, and how can I tie that message into the customers and the people that I interact with everyday, right. And it's a hard thing to do, I have to say, and slowly but surely the message comes along and you see it in supermarkets like Whole Foods, but also in the smaller mom and pop shops where like, you know, there's an organic section, there is also a natural wine section, correct. So, you know, it's evolving all the time. And I think it has to do with that simple factor of sustainability and what builds good drinking and natural wine or like organically produced wine, it's not just that it feels good on the glass, but also like the good factor that that you're doing something good for your community, right. So that's how I ventured into the wine business after the days in the pool, Frank. You already know all about that.
Frank Byskov 5:30
Water to wine is definitely a great transition You work a lot with old world wineries, but you're global as far as I know.
Estebe Salgado 5:47
Correct. So starting in the old world, again with the origins in Spain, with wineries in France, Italy, Spain, but then also the new world. Argentina, Chile, even here in the US, we have farmers out in California, we have an amazing cidery called Brooklyn Cider House which is a good friend, but all with the same philosophy again, they need to be the farmers, the ones that cultivate the land and that are a good representation of their community and their environment correct, because if they don’t treat their land properly, you might get something in the short term - but I think everybody knows farming, it's never a short term sort of business. So you know, the ones that have succeeded, I think, are the ones that look at it for not just our generation, it's the ones that keep generation after generations, continuing doing what's best for their environment.
Frank Byskov 7:11
Thinking about the organic movement, organic farming, a lot of it is going back to how people used to do it before fertilizers, before everything else came about. So I take it, if you have an organic wine, it's pretty much it's done the old school way. Is that right?
Estebe Salgado 7:31
Yes, and I have a quick story on that. I was visiting a supplier a year ago or so, so not this summer, but the previous summer and it's been going for generations, correct. So they, you know, nowadays run by the son, and he was explaining - we went for a walk through the vineyard and everything is beautiful out in Catalonia, but we go up the hill a little bit and you could see the entire vineyard, right and there were a few so-called bald spots, you see a beautiful vineyard, but there are a few a few sections where there are no vines or the vines are not produced and there's no leaves and stuff like that. So, I ask him, so what's going on over there, and the reaction with this was - you know, it's a winery that's been, I think in the family for 150 years or something like that. Right? And they say, well, in the beginning of the century, there was this movement of producing, or the important part was, how much food you could get. Doesn't matter the quality of food, but like my grandfather, you know, this is what they told us, and they would use fertilizers and to make sure that everything was clean, we need just the vine, but that eventually started killing the land. All the nutrients that the land gives that plant. So eventually, those plants that needed to survive maybe longer they started to die. So now after the grandfather, it went to Father, he saw that, his father and just realized, wow, we must be doing something that is not good for ourselves and our next generations. So we need to change that, so completely, radically changed the way that, you know, they were practicing their part and then through the last 30 years his dad went from being someone that used conventional winemaking to biodynamic winemaking, right. So not only the organic, which you are asking, what is it? Well, first of all, it takes a lot of time. That's the thing to convert something into organic, right, because you have to use certain things. Not using any chemicals clearly that's one of them. But like, that's just from the faming part, and what happens in the vineyard effects, right? And then, again, from organic to biodynamic farming, it has to do all with the environment. Right? Not just what, you know, they tell us this. The, we have to plant it in full moon and all that. Good and great stuff. But you know, biodynamic farming has to do more with how also your business is set up right, how you’re environmentally friendly and how your employees are living. How we also recycle the bottles that we used, and how we clean them. So all of that has to do with a lot of investment behind as well. And not everybody is suitable to do that. Sometimes timing is difficult. So that's what we strive for, and at the end of the day, they are small families that really understand how their next generations need to survive as well. Right.Frank Byskov:
Looking at the life cycle of a vine, you’re thinking long term and you're thinking not just this year next year, that can take you a long time for it to produce a quality that…Estebe Salgado:
Sorry to interrupt you, for four and a half years, If you don't graft it or anything like that, just to start giving you something. So if you and I want to invest in a winery, and we want to start today we buy the land, you know, at least four years until we get something to then start producing some wine, so…Frank Byskov:
That's why I like the multigenerational, makes sense.Estebe Salgado:
Yes, yes. It does. It does…Frank Byskov:
Can you chase the difference? I don’t think can, but can you? You have a much finer palate than me.Estebe Salgado:
Can you taste the difference? Yes, you can taste the difference. Some of the different practices that they use, that you're familiar with and you know your palate at the end of the day is trained, correct. They have certain techniques that they're using. And more than that, it with this whole natural wine movement you definitely taste it. Because, you know when you make wine, you want to make sure that it's wine at the end of the day. It's fermented grape juice, seems very simple, but it goes through a lot and I have tasted a lot of, in my opinion, faulted natural wines these days, right, so you know the malic acidity is super high or like you know certain things that in my opinion could be corrected. But then you find certain other producers that are that, again, they've been doing this for such a long time. That for them is like you know, yes, this is how we've been doing it. You know, it's not part of the movement or part of some sort, making long story short, so yes, yes you taste it.Frank Byskov:
It is reverting back to the traditional winegrowing instead of the industrial, where it was mass more than anything. I'm from Denmark, as you know, and there were wine producing countries down south used to have that, there was the quality wine, there was the cheap wine. There was this and then the stuff you could send to Denmark because they would drink anything, it didn't matter. Back when wine became popular. And just said like it more of a volume thing than quality. I think what you stand for is definitely the quality aspect, working with more of the smaller producers instead of big industrial complexes. And so…Estebe Salgado:
Yeah, we do that but I also have to say, for example, and I go back to Spain, one of the biggest family [vineyards], and it's still family owned, that's what it's very, very, in my opinion, very respectful. Torres, which is a very, you know, very good company and what they've done also, it's something that they've gone back to not just restore the soil, they restored certain grape varieties that were disappearing.. So they went through certain history books and everything like that and see what grape varietiels were planted here 150 years ago or whatever it is that some of them you know, we can always recognize Cabernet Sauvignon or Sauvignon Blanc, but there are certain grape varieties that they started a movement to restore those, those missing ones. So that's, that's also you know, in my opinion, very, very good for all of us in the industry as well and yes, so we can get more knowledge correct. And, and sometimes the smaller producers do not have the financial ability to do so. So you know, that’s part of it.Frank Byskov:
There's always a risk with doing something that's different. I think you have to find, as with anything, find the right fit between the local soil, topography and right grapes, and what the market can carry as well.Estebe Salgado:
And if not, go to Denmark and, you know, you guys will drink it all. So it's all good.Frank Byskov:
It's changed a little bit since then. But it's not like a historical wine country, you can definitely see compared to if you go into southern Europe, or have a conversation with you. It's a part of the culture that is not in Denmark. In Denmark, you can talk beer all day, Carlsberg, Tuborg. A couple of pretty big brands there. So you can sell beer all day because that's part of the culture, or schnaps - like my parents, for Christmas, we have five different kinds of schnaps at the table. Wine? That's a nice looking label. And the culture behind it going back to, I guess pre-Roman times really lends itself to study like a specialty.Estebe Salgado:
Yeah, it's I mean, long, long lasting history. And that's one of the beauties that I like of my industry that I always keep learning. You know, the day that I told you that I know everything about wine. I was like, Frank, I'm completely lying to you. I'm completely lying to you. So yes, that's the beauty of it. Correct? Because you can always find certain things from different countries that are doing things that you might think are, you know, sometimes unconventional, but then they're incredible. They're incredible. And that's how they did it. You know, aging in amphoras and like, you know, certain things that, that… Yeah. That's the beauty of it. That's the beauty of it, even more if you really like food and wine, right? Because at the end of the day, I always say, if not the best compliment on the table, one of the best, you know when you're eating, correct. And that's also part of culture, I think culture.Frank Byskov:
It's such an amazing journey that I just learned about, if I have a question I know who to go to and ask, clearly you are the subject matter expert in this one. Anything else you would like to go into? I've learned so much just from this conversation. And now being a sustainable consumer is a big part of what I do. Finally, stuff you can feel good about my both consuming and purchasing. Now, where can people find out more about you? Like where can they find you and the wines you carry?Estebe Salgado:
Yes, so one of the, throughout the last few years, business partner that I have and I we went into, everybody's, you know, closed at home and where can I get the wine so we ventured into the internet, which is something that, yes, fortunately, I think you can connect with a lot of more people virtually these days, than what we used to, so we created a website called wearethewine.com and everything that we do, you'll see very, again, following the same philosophy that we've been doing in the import company and Tradewinds. It's just small producers. We’re clearly focusing on those because they're, at the end of the day, unknown to most of the you know, they're not in in the bigger groceries or anything like that. But we've done a great job here in the DC metro area to spread that word and that's, that's where you can find most of our wines, if not all. Fortunately, or unfortunately, when we get small producers so sometimes the stock availability is like get it as soon as you can sort of thing, like you know, first come first serve in that sense, but everything that we carry these days is available at wearethewine.com.Frank Byskov:
Thank you, and I know you have a little special for the listeners today.Estebe Salgado:
Yes, anybody that is associated with Frank and Forty4 Financial, we're doing a special coupon that is going to be sent to you guys, correct? And Frank were donated five percent of all the sales to a charity that that you pick, environmentally related, I'm assuming?Frank Byskov:
I was actually thinking since we're talking about food and wine, go with the Capital Area Food Bank. Because there's still a big need to even get food on the table and with the holidays coming up, I think that's a great, great charity that are well established, do a lot of great work to keep it within the realm of food and wine, maybe not so much wine, but at least food. So 5% more go to the Capital Area Food Bank, and there's no discount as well.Estebe Salgado:
A 10% discount that I forgot to mention, the 10% discount plus then 5% of the sales goes to the charity.Frank Byskov:
Yep. Well, thank you so much, Estebe. You can find the coupon code Forty4Gift, that will be available until the end of the year. Also have it in the show notes. And go check out wearethewine.com. There's a great selection there. And if you have any questions, I'll be happy to make a make an introduction.Estebe Salgado:
I will be happy to pass that on to the team. Or I'll be happy to answer all the questions I thought Frank, you were gonna answer all the wine questions and I was gonna you know…Frank Byskov:
Is it red, ok, that’s good… I'm slowly learning but, any wine questions, let's go direct to the source. So I that a much better, much better solution. Well, thank you so much Estebe. And I said I learned a lot today. And there's so much more to learn, if you haven’t learned everything, there’s definitely room for me to grow.Estebe Salgado:
I will try to keep it up. Keep it up passing the word. Yes. And I thank you very much for having me, Frank. It's been it's been great chatting with you and I know you're doing great things with your own company as well. So yeah, thank you for having me.Frank Byskov:
You're very welcome.
Promo code for 10% off, plus 5% toward the Capital Area Food Bank - FORTY4GIFT