Raging Against Organic Wine

     The cover story on our autumn issue is about Frogpond Farm as an organic winery, with a photo of the husband and wife team in their vineyard. I didn’t expect this to be an offensive subject. Yet it has wildly enraged one of our readers, who left an anonymous voicemail on Mike’s telephone, objecting to the article. If anyone was offended, it was us, because the message was rude in the extreme, full of swearing. It is so unusual that I transcribed it and am posting it here:

 

     “Davis, Mike Davis…You print this magazine on here with this organic s*** in front of it. You want to go take a look at that farm right now. You have pictures organic and people all together. It’s a bunch of bulls***. And go take a look at the farmer that has a farm beside this s***. Go take a look at the spray on it right now. It’s all a bunch of bulls*** and you put it on the front page of your magazine? Well guess what my daughter won’t advertise in your magazine. It ain’t happening. You can take your magazine and shove it up you’re a**.”

 

     Can you believe this? One thing this person is not, is a good communicator! If he has a legitimate complaint of some kind, it is not clearly expressed in any way that we can publish in the magazine. He comes across as a complete madman. We don’t know who his daughter is, or why she might or might not advertise with us. This is a complete mystery. The level of rudeness is so high that I’m keeping track in case it worsens to the point of needing to call the police. I won’t let anyone on my team be abused.

     Any idea why someone would be enraged by an article on an organic winery? And any idea of how I should handle this situation?

11 Responses to Raging Against Organic Wine

  1. Barbara September 2, 2009 at 2:41 pm #

    You should immediately report the call to the police so this is on record! Perhaps this person is already known by them or by Frogpond Farm.
    Yes, this call is strange, but if, as he alludes, Frogpond does spray, it is for you to know.

  2. Carrie Watson September 2, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    Sounds like this guy was sniffing some formaldehyde before writing. It’s really not clear if he’s against organics, organic wine or this farm in particular. If he did have any legitimate concerns then there’s ample opportunity for him and anyone for that matter to get involved with organic inspections. Where was this guy when the CFIA and the interested parties were writing up the new organic standards, which, are nintended to protect the public from fraudulent claims. I’ve known Jens and Heike for seven years now and can attest to their moral conviction to the health of the environment and they stand behind what they produce.

  3. Inge September 2, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    My guess is that this gentleman[!]saw some activity in the vineyard that he associates with conventional operations. I personally don’t know what is or isn’t allowed by the organic standards as far as vineyards are concerned, but I do know a lot of people are misinformed about many things organic, especially the use of equipment that is most commonly seen in conventional arenas.
    A good example of this would be when a close friend of mine saw me hook up a hose end fertilizer sprayer to fertilize seedlings in my greenhouse with compost tea. “I’m surprised you even have one of those!” she said.

  4. Misty Ingraham September 2, 2009 at 5:50 pm #

    The written word can be a powerful thing. Your article obviously hit a nerve with the raging voice mail person. It is too bad he was unable to articulate his message rationally. Controversy is a fact of life but verbal abuse is simply that- abuse. I’d keep an eye things!

  5. katie f September 2, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    hi gloria, i am the girl behind the tasting counter at frogpond and i am completely surprised by this simply because i have now experienced two summers there and have only ever received positive encouragement and remarks from the people that visit us for jens and heike’s efforts towards creating wines that are more beneficial for the environment and our bodies. as per the spray comment, i will say that yes jens sprays in the vineyard, but it is what he chooses to put into the spray machine that is what is significant. usually different kelps and seaweeds mixes are diluted and spray but this year also because of the wetness he has been using lime (calcium oxide) to keep the fungus and molds down, all are completely natural that correspond with our certifying body, oc-pro canada. of course it is only natural that these natural ingredient-based sprays would leave a residue on the vines and leaves for a few days after they have been sprayed. it is only that the conventional sprayer as a machine is the most effective way to distribute the kelp and lime that keep our vines so strong and disease resistant in the first place. again, i was, and am still, extremely shocked at the attack not only on you and mike but towards a workplace and environment that i have come to love over the past couple years of being employed there.

  6. Gloria September 3, 2009 at 7:27 am #

    Thanks to all of you for helping to solve this mystery. There is probably some jealousy involved from the raging man, as his daughter is connected to some business that might/not advertise with us, and I expect that he did indeed misunderstand whatever treatment he observed in the vineyard. Your comments have eased my mind.

  7. Dominik September 8, 2009 at 1:29 am #

    Sounds really rude. Obviousley this man did not understand what organic viticulture is about. Many people think organic wines are not sprayed, but in most cases we have to spray, but we spray things that are not causing damage to the environment. We’re making wine without using pesticides, herbicides and so on.

  8. Milan September 10, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

    LOL at this deranged callers comments! Sounds to me like he’s trying to say that the conventionally run vineyard beside Frogpond is an excellent one and organic isn’t! I’ve run into this kind of crazy talk from most oldtime grape growers who don’t know the difference between WINE grapes and the labrusca garbage they only know how to grow – He’s upset because he’s not able to sell his toxic chemical laced grapes to any winery…. even for Baby Duck! If this crazy relic from our concord past is reading this – try growing grapes that a winery may want to buy! i.e. Quality grapes not the 12 ton per acre garbage that your producing now and we the taxpayers have to pay for by bailing you out for the SECOND year in a row!

  9. Gloria Hildebrandt October 21, 2009 at 9:27 am #

    I was happy to get this message today containing some very wise words: “We visited Frogpond Farm some years ago when they first started bottling in their smaller bottles & found the farm in a lovely natural state. And we bought 3 cases of wine. My advice is this: anytime someone insults your soul dismiss that energy ASAP. Let it go. Don’t be caught in that disturbed vocal chord.”
    Pamela Friendly

  10. Brenda Moher October 29, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    I am happy to report that my husband and I visited this lovely, well presented winery in early September. We often bicycle through this area, sampling the wines, picnicing on the riverside and enjoying our beautiful country side. It is such an idyllic experience. After reading your article about Frogpond Winery we added a new stop to our travels. During our visit at Frogpond we sampled some excellent wines…beaufifully balanced in flavour, colour and aroma. We left with a few bottles of the Chambourcin and Riesling tucked into our saddle bags. Since bringing it home we have shared them with family and friends who were all as pleased as we were with the quality of this wine. We continue to buy all kinds of wines but it is with great interest we watch the development of the wine business in the Niagara area and the increasing emphasis on alternative growing methods and fermenting techniques. Keep up your great work in profiling these new and up coming agri-businesses. We can all learn from them and truly work towards supporting sustainable agriculture systems.

  11. Gloria Hildebrandt November 16, 2009 at 10:59 am #

    Thanks, Brenda, for your note about profiling agri-businesses. Watch for our winter issue, which contains a profile of an interesting local agricultural business that has delicious results!

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