Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5/20 GARY PISONI, MARGARETE GRAY, IN LABOR AND THE LOCAVORE

SPECIAL GUEST GARY PISONI JOINS IN ON THE WHAT'S COOKIN' SHOW! 


Winegrower Gary Pisoni comes from generations of farmers who tended row crops long before he was born. His parents, Swiss-Italian immigrants, Eddie and Jane Pison, began farming vegetables in the Salinas Valley in 1952.

Pisoni enjoyed drinking and collecting fine French wines while in college. When he graduated, he was eager to find a way into the wine business. When he told his father he wanted to plant grapevines on the family cattle ranch in the Santa Lucia Highlands, he was met with several objections, not the least of which was the cost. Gary countered to his father, “Have you ever been to a $250 lettuce tasting?” His father relented and a legendary vineyard was born in 1982. Gary’s positive energy has made him a household name and a passionate pioneer among Pinot circles.

Gary planted his first 5 acres of own-rooted vines in virgin soil at 1,300 foot elevation. It took ten years of witchers and well drillers to tap into a water source on the sixth try. Water turned the wilderness into a garden and made Gary’s dream come true. The original vines are rumored to be from suitcase cuttings from a famous domaine in Vosne-Romanee, now called the Pisoni clone or selection.

Winemaker son Jeff and grape grower son Mark created the Pisoni label, releasing the first estate Pinot Noir in 1998. A second label, Lucia, debuted in 2000. Pisoni fruit quickly became highly prized in California and Pisoni Vineyard put Santa Lucia Highlands on the map, becoming one of California’s true ‘cult’ vineyards. Many top producers craft a Pisoni vineyard-designate Pinot Noir (Arcadian, Capiaux, Morgan, Patz & Hall, Peter Michael, Siduri, Tantara, Testarossa). Gary Pisoni also manages nearby Garys’ Vineyard with Gary Franscioni.

The Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir is sold exclusively through a mailing list. The Lucia wines are made in larger quantities and are sold through a mailing list offering and retail distribution (see Lucia in Winery Directory).


To coinicide with the 30th anniversary of Pisoni Vineyards, a Pisoni Estate Chardonnay was offered with the 2010 vintage. Chardonnay was initially planted at Pisoni Vineyards in 1982, but the fruit has gone into Lucia Chardonnay. The Pisoni Chardonnay comes from some original 30-year-old vines and some from blocks planted in 1999. Only 100 cases produced.


MARGARET GRAY – IN LABOR AND THE LOCAVORE: THE MAKING OF A COMPREHENSIVE FOOD ETHIC

To most minds, locally grown equals small, sustainable, and simply better than eating the tasteless produce and processed goods shipped to supermarkets from the big world of factory farms.

The “eat local” movement in the U.S. is growing and much of the food movement writing is premised on a food ethic.  When we talk about concern for animal welfare and protecting the environment from toxic pesticides we are thinking about what we put in our bodies, but more important, we desire to make the world a better place through our food purchases.

So if we use that logic, then by all means shouldn’t those who plant and harvest our food be included in any discussion about sustainable and ethical farming?

In LABOR AND THE LOCAVORE: The Making of a Comprehensive Food Ethic (Univ. of California Press, 2014), Assoc. Professor of Political Science at Adelphi University Margaret Gray sheds light on the plight of farmworkers that supply beautiful, delicious locally grown fruits and vegetables, locally crafted cheeses, baked goods, and more to upscale eateries, thriving farmers’ markets, and ultimately our dinner plates.

As Gray makes clear by focusing on one of the country’s most celebrated local food hubs—New York’s scenic Hudson Valley--, this local bounty comes at a price.  Family farms largely thrive because the overwhelming majority of farmhands are undocumented Latino workers, willing to put in long hours of hard manual labor for meager wages—typically $8 an hour, or less—and put up with hazardous conditions and unfair, paternalistic management.

“Improving workers’ conditions should be considered as important as protecting watersheds or shielding animals from pain and stress,” Margaret Gray contends. With LABOR AND THE LOCAVORE, she calls attention to the realities and responsibilities that come with eating local.

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