A reggae fuelled road trip to the organic grapes of wine merchant Vintage Roots

If you love wine, but you are less attached to the sulphites, perhaps in search of vegan or biodynamic wine, then you need to know about the organic wine people, Vintage Roots.

The name was derived from a reggae compilation tape on a road trip the  founders took to France in 1985.  They started the business with a sheet of road trip “research” – a list of fifteen wines, and now sell over 400 organic wines and drinks.  Co-founders Neil Palmer and Lance Pigott continue to fly the flag for organic, biodynamic, natural and ethically produced wines from around the world, not to mention quirkier offerings such as organic cachaça, a seaweed gin and the imminent arrival of their first organic Tequila.

Vintage Roots is  joining this year’s Salvo fair in Henley, 23rd-25th June.  Salvo fair is the annual event of Salvo.co.uk, the online marketplace and directory where I source a lot of salvage for my flat, so I am getting involved for this year’s Green Living Fest.  Zero waste food, vintage and sustainable fashion are set to join the unique mix of architectural, garden, midcentury and industrial antiques.

Just like antiques, wine can be a stuffy business, but Neil (pictured above in his eighties bins), is admirably honest about Vintage Roots’ struggle at the start.

“This is not meant to sound arrogant, but I wouldn’t have given too much advice to my younger self, as it is important to learn by your mistakes. We grew very slowly in the early days (about 10 years!), and earned little from the business, but all came good and we had some fantastic memorable times.”

Vintage Roots is giving Salvo’s (Fri 23rd June) evening preview party plenty of fizz in support of Smart Works Charity, and unique fashion reuse that both supports out of work women and reduces landfill.  See the details and buy tickets here (all proceeds to Smart Works Charity)

Vintage Roots are planning to be in my Fair Fashion marquee for tastings over the weekend too.  They describe wine as bottled history, which begs the question – what is the future for winemaking and the favour for organic or biodynamic wine?

“In the wine trade there is a growing number of wine makers and producers who are choosing to return towards older ways of making wine, using little or no intervention. Only natural yeasts to start the fermentation, sometimes ageing in old Amphora pots and adding little or no sulphur dioxide. Wine should not be a mass produced, ‘industrial’ product, more treated as something that is living. Organic and biodynamic farming methods keep the soils alive, which in turn feeds the grapes, and produces higher quality, more complex wines, whilst maintaining the soil for the growers of the future.”

Since 2005 their office has been powered by 100% renewable energy and in 2006 the company became the first in the UK to offset the carbon footprint of all its wine and beer imports. Last year saw the introduction of a “Vine to Lips” logo, designed to communicate the carbon commitment of a firm that sets the standard for green retail.

Vintage Roots  /  Salvo Fair 

©photographs courtesy of Vintage Roots

 

 

Woman, Reclaimed

One year ago I left my corporate fashion job to follow a more conscious life.

My job gave me pleasure and pain, and enabled me to buy my first home in west London. Like a secret diary, I started to blog about my journey into a more sustainable existence (shoe collection excluded), as head of PR for a shoe brand at the time…. I vowed to do-up my new home with as many old, reused and reclaimed things as possible.

One bedroom, one bathroom, one garden, one kitchen… now my walk-in wardrobe, and one woman taking her first steps into a salvage yard.

One foot in fashion, one foot in salvage, often up to my knees in reclaimed building materials, but refusing to part with my knee-high boots, whilst dancing in mud with reclaimed radiators from the roaring 20s.  I started to question, are these industries really so different? Both can be intimidating, but as soon as you cross the facade, you find the heart of great stories. The reason I fell for fashion PR in the first place.

Fashion at an unsustainable pace, ticking-off trends rather than expressing personal taste left me cold compared with the storied pieces of individuality I was dressing my home with.  This is when I decided that I not only needed to claim to love my fashionable life, but reclaim it.

Designing my home with reclaimed materials was a style choice as well as an ethical, environmental one. Reclaimed Woman is my attempt to find fashion and home fashions that don’t compromise ethics. A space to retrieve yourself, be real, inspired and conscious, because the examined life is worth living.