DepartmentsFood & Wine

Food & Wine: From Puffers to Potables

by Carolyn Jung

Patagonia Provisions recently introduced a line of 10 fermented beverages, including a 2020 Meinklang Rosé pressed in Austria from Zweigelt grapes. | Photo courtesy of Amy Kumler.

Patagonia’s commitment to advancing sustainability extends to its latest beverage offerings.

The newest wines arousing an insatiable thirst aren’t crafted by the likes of Mondavi, Harlan or Rothschild — but by Patagonia.

The Ventura-based, environmentally conscious outdoor clothing company may be best known for fleece jackets, alpine pants and tough-as-nails duffels. But its Sausalito-based food and beverage division, Patagonia Provisions, is making a big splash with a new line of 10 fermented beverages that includes not only natural wines but also ciders and sake, all embodying an ecological ethos.

While some conventionally produced wines might contain pesticide residue (which can remain in the grape seeds and stems), Provisions libations highlight natural restorative land practices and minimal-intervention bottling practices. Custommade exclusively for Provisions, the beverages were curated in partnership with Brian McClintic, a star of the documentary Somm and founder of Viticole, an online organic wine subscription club; and Vanya Filipovic, a Montreal-based wine importer and Viticole collaborator.

“The spectrum of flavors that emerge from wines like these is a lost magic that we get to rediscover,” McClintic says. “Some of these feral creations feel like potions and deliver taste experiences we just haven’t experienced in this generation.”

Among the collection’s wines are: 2018 Château de Béru Chablis ($48), an organic French chardonnay from grapes grown in a biodynamic vineyard and vinified in a 13th-century cellar; 2020 Frank Cornelissen Pistemutta Etna Rosso ($39), an Italian red wine from Nerello Mascalese grapes grown organically on Mount Etna volcano in Sicily; 2020 Meinklang Rosé ($25), pressed in Austria from Zweigelt grapes from the world’s second-largest biodynamic farm; 2019–2020 Wild Arc Marquette ($30), a red wine from Marquette grapes grown in a restored permaculture vineyard in New York’s Hudson Valley; and 2020 Alex Craighead Kindeli Piquette ($8 per can), a low-alcohol, naturally sparkling wine made from wild pineapple guavas and the pomace of grapes grown organically in the hills of New Zealand’s South Island.

The nonwine offerings include: Alai Sidra ($18), a naturally sparkling dry cider made from four varieties of apples and quince grown in a 50-year-old orchard at the foot of the Chilean Andes; and 2021 Terada Honke Gonin Musume Sake ($39), a traditional Japanese sake made from large-grain Miyama Nishiki and Kamenoo rice varieties by a 24th-generation brewmaster.

The production ranges from a low of 100 cases of Wild Arc Marquette to a high of more than 1,000 cases for the Meinklang vintages. Since the beverages started selling in late October on the Provisions website (the only place they are available) sales have been brisk, according to Provisions cofounder Birgit Cameron.

After revolutionizing clothing for the great outdoors by developing synthetic pile fleece from recycled plastic soda bottles and committing to using 100 percent organic cotton, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard turned his attention to what he considered a natural extension — preserving the health of the planet by improving agricultural practices.

“The spectrum of flavors that emerge from wines like these is a lost magic that we get to rediscover.” — Brian McClintic

Chouinard and Cameron cofounded Provisions in 2012 and launched its first product — wild smoked salmon in a pouch — a year later. It now boasts 55 products. Since its founding, Provisions has seen upward of 50 percent growth in sales every year, according to Cameron. In 2019, Patagonia went a step further, partnering with other organizations to launch Regenerative Organic Certified, a program to create and promote products with even higher standards for soil health, animal welfare and farmworker fairness.

“Every product has a deep reason for being. We start with what problems exist, then build products from there, rather than trying to be on trend,” Cameron says. “We want to use science as a compass to showcase a better way forward.”

While the development of every product has its own set of challenges, wine presented an especially complicated endeavor, she notes. That’s because alcohol sales and shipping laws vary from state to state, even sometimes from county to county — one reason that Provision wines are not yet available in any retail stores. It’s also why the division can only ship to the District of Columbia and 12 states (including California).

With Provisions constantly expanding, look for additional varieties of tinned sustainable seafood, as well as new cured venison links made from an invasive deer species on Maui.

More wines are in the pipeline, too. One that would especially please Cameron? A Patagonia Provisions wine from Patagonia, of course.

Related Articles

Back to top button