Any great wine begins in the soil. But for a growing number of Northern California
Winemakers it's not just any land. The soil in some Napa Sonoma vineyards has
a unique tie to some of the finest restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Table scraps from what feeds diners are turned into a high-grade compost to feed
the vineyards. Winemakers do get some strange reactions when they tell their customers
about the unique relationship between a bottle of wine and gourmet garbage.
I tell then that it's made from table scraps that are from a restaurant they may
have dined in the night before they find that quite amusing. But they say they
don't feel quite as guilty about leaving something on their plate," said
Kathleen Inman, owner of Olivet Grange Vineyards and Inman Family wines. The Russian
River valley winemaker has been using what's appropriately called "Four Course"
compost since she got into the wine business a few years ago. Inman says she just
likes the whole idea. "And I see this as a loop from the table to the vineyard
and then our wines are served again on the tables of these restaurants, completing
the whole circle," she said.
It's a circle that starts in the kitchen.
L.J.'s Martini Club and Grill is one of the eight restaurants in San Francisco's
Metreon Entertainment Center that's participating in the recycling program. Operations
Manager Jonathan Cook said the practice fits right in with Metreon's philosophy.
"As a company we're really committed to the community and the environment
and when we found out we could convert our food waste into fertile soil really
easily it was just an amazing concept," said Cook.
He said Metreon
restaurants produce 40 thousand pounds of scraps a month for composting and that
means less waste in landfills and a lower garbage pick-up bill. The center is
one of more than 200 food-related businesses and 75 thousand San Francisco households
providing food scraps for compost.
Kathleen Inman, who's proud of her Pinot
Gris and Pinot Noir, says this rich compost makes being a grower even more gratifying.
Great tasting grapes for the finest wine and the warm feeling of helping to complete
the crop circle.