piNOT NOir, saratoga winery, LODI, NY 2009

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.


This is just wrong. A bottle of bestiality parading a pinot in order to pander to the puerile, lowest, and least in all of us. It’s not funny, not clever, and poorly printed.

I’m not reviewing the wine (the cartoon horse’s cigar must taste better).

But these concerns are secondary, superficial.

Flip the bottle. Ignore the rambling, adjective-burdened back (if you can even read that font).

Remember, this is The Saratoga Winery. It sells itself on being local. The horse honors (?) Saratoga’s rich racing history.

Tourists love local stuff like moths love flames and my sweaters. People feel that they can ground their touristic experience by supporting native producers. Their souvenir bottle with a horse on it will transport them back through space and time, to that mystical vacation, where they bet on horses, toured homes, tasted historic springs, and went to a barn with a tasting table and pizza oven.

It felt patriotic. It felt hedonistic, escapist, even elitist. It felt good for the environment, like recycling a Prius.

But it is all a lie.

And I don’t like being lied to

Look at the top of label…no, ignore the offensive logo of a drunken horse…look to your right of that atrocity…

Now, I’m no genius, but I know how to use a map, and last time I checked, Lodi is not Saratoga Springs.

So this “local” winery bought grapes and made (or had someone make) their entire wine and bottle it 200 miles away. I at least made mine at home. Hell, buying Canadian beer would be more native.

Yet most wineries play this game. Names and labels are calculated to tap into our attachment to places. They foster our assumptions. But most winemakers import grapes from all over their state, even other countries.

We might even question whether the concept of homespun wine is real, since wine culture is an European import. Pinot Noir came from Europe and requires grafting onto other rootstock and endless chemical treatment to survive out here. While today’s styles have homogenized into “international” or “modern” forms.

Maybe, I’m giving some local highschooler a job in the tasting barn. Maybe, I’m helping their downpayment. Maybe, their presence in Saratoga will raise the prestige of the place. Maybe, their taxes will pay for Saratoga’s new fire truck.

But wait.

See that red A below: that’s the winery. See that grey shaded box: well, that is Saratoga Springs.




So I had to leave town, to drink a wine named after that town, that was made no where near that town.

Yet I went because I wanted a local winery. I wanted to experience what wine snobs call terroir. Share in the autochthonous traditions of vine and wine culture.

Instead, I got a label with a horse on it.


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