The true cost of wine

L.M. Archer speaks to two Oregon producers who calculate the cost of viticulture’s environmental impact when they make their wines.

Mimi Casteel
Mimi Casteel

According to a recent study from Oregon State University, most commercial vineyards don’t make money until year five, when the vines achieve maturity and produce viable fruit. Even then, most vine growers barely break even for several years. This can mean that pursuing unconventional farming practices can be risky for financial health. One winemaker in Oregon begs to differ: Mimi Casteel of Hope Well Wine contends her nonconventional, regenerative farming practices not only cut her costs, but help the environment. 

“The reason I make wine, is that I do believe that wine has the capacity to start a conversation that kale does not have,” says Casteel, whose wines have attracted a worldwide cult following. At $75 a bottle, the boutique’s wines cater to consumers able to afford such a conversation. Yet, it’s these “intentional moments at table” that allow Casteel the opportunity to talk about her non-standard farming methods, methods she believes yield the “most robust expression of what a landscape actually has to offer”.

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