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Farm to table, locally sourced restaurants with non local wine lists

So many restaurants claim to be farm to table, locally sourced 100 miles or less, cooking from the amazing garden on premises or the like, yet have wine lists with very few local choices. California produces many fine wines, yet whenever I research many of these establishments, the wine list is mainly from other regions. Am I missing something? Shouldn't everything be locally sourced rather than imported with these claims? Can anyone please recommend local (preferably OC) restaurants with specifically local wines?

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  1. 100 miles or less? So you're looking for a farm to table restaurant with a wine list mostly from Temecula (OC preference)? They better have a free corkage policy! ;-)

    Even farm to table restaurants in the SF bay area feature wines from Italy and France along with their robust California selections. I don't think farm to table needs to include or be exclusively local vineyards. I'd rather they don't. Wines don't need to be "fresh". In fact, many are better with age.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Porthos

      Don't forget Rosenthal! A good wine grown in the hills of Malibu.

      http://www.rosenthalestatewines.com/

      Or Moraga Vineyards - grown in Bel Air.

      http://www.moragavineyards.com/

      There are probably more, but I can't think of any.

      The 100 mile rule should be - at the very least - bumped up another 20 miles to include the Santa Ynez Valley. Which has some very good wines.

      1. re: foodiemahoodie

        Not many people would be happy to go local and order a $250 bottle of Moraga Cab. for the sake of the environment or hard working folks in Bel-air.

        1. re: john gonzales

          I agree. Charge me $20-40 corkage. No carbon footprint because you don't have to bring in any wines. Restaurant makes $20-40 for not serving anything. I get to drink what I enjoy. Win win win.

    2. Part of the appeal with farm to table is that fresher produce tastes better. A strawberry that was picked this morning at a farm down the road will taste better tonight than the one you see at Safeway in the plastic clamshell that was shipped from Chile.

      The same does not hold true for wines. Wine does not taste better because it is fresh.

      47 Replies
      1. re: jpc8015

        Fresh wine! Get your fresh wine here!

        1. re: jpc8015

          Well sure that's part of it but there's also the environmental impact of shipping wine in from other regions, states and countries; when good and sometimes great wines (depending where you live) can be had locally. Also the movement is supposed to support the local economy; instead of sending our dollars to distant faceless corporations.

          1. re: Chinon00

            What about an area that has no decent wineries?

            1. re: jpc8015

              If these places really wanna conform to their stated philosophy consider alternatives like local ciders or beers. Otherwise allow customers to bring their own.
              And sure I definitely have my favorite wines from France and Italy. But I'm not really focused on that when I visit farm to table restaurants. I want freshness as well as a reflection of the local environment in the meal.

              1. re: Chinon00

                In an industry that runs on margins as tight as restaurants do it does not mak any sense to encourage people to bring their own alcohol. That is where the majority of the profits come from. Sure, most decent restaurants allow it but I can't believe that there are many that would survive by just throwing in the towel on the wine program and telling their customers to just bring their own.

              1. re: sayrob

                If there are no decent wineries around why would a restaurant harm their reputation by serving a product that is sub par. The choices then are either a) don't serve wine, or b) stock your wine list with non-local options.

                Local wine lists may be possible in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Not many other places in the US would be able to put together an interesting local wine list.

                1. re: jpc8015

                  Local wine lists may be possible in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington
                  ===================
                  Even in these states restaurants add selections from France, Italy, and Spain. The business is hard enough without alienating yourself from many diners who don't like the new world stuff as much as the old world stuff. I stopped going to AOC after they told me their new sommelier was focusing more on Cali wines and fewer wines from France (when I remarked how their French wine selection had decreased since my last visit). Funny for a restaurant named AOC. That was about 3-5 years ago. It's one of the reasons why I haven't going back since.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    This is my point exactly. Even in those areas where it is possible to do a decent local wine list, it may not be advisable.

                    The vast majority of these restaurants are not set up as social welfare organizations. They have a bottom line to look after. If they have to look to Europe or South America to find wines that complement their menu and are price friendly, then so be it. By going to the restaurant and ordering the bottle of wine you are contributing work to the people who pour the wine at your table, wash the glasses, sell the wine to the restaurant, deliver pack the wine for shipment, import the wine from its origin and so on...The vast majority of your money is staying local.

                    1. re: jpc8015

                      Isn't that true of everything else? I mean isn't what you say true if nothing is locally sourced? Then what's the point?

                    2. re: Porthos

                      I remember going to 5 Dudley in Venice. And they ONLY had locally-sourced wines.

                      A friend and I had one wine. We didn't like it. Sent it back. They tried another. We didn't like that one either. We might have sent back a third. The sommelier came over and apologized.

                      "You guys are probably used to French wines with some age on it." He was right.

                      "You're not going to like anything we have. The owner only serves local wines and whatever we get locally just isn't good enough."

                      I think true then, not so much now.

                    3. re: jpc8015

                      Is a serviceable wine something you'd accept at a restaurant? I mean a lot of times we travel abroad and drink local wines and its not stuff that's on par w/ Napa or Sonoma or Tuscany.
                      I live in Philly and there's a new winery 15 minutes outside the city that's better than serviceable and reflects our area. Nice stuff. Karamoor Estate

                      1. re: Chinon00

                        One label does not make a wine list.

                        In terms of farm to table restaurants go I do not believe that we should let perfect be the enemy of very good. Lets say there is a restaurant in the San Diego suburbs that wants to get their products locally. They are able to get very good produce, meat, and dairy but pay a premium for them because they all come from small family operated farms.

                        There is a certain point where the amount of money you can charge for a plate of fod levels off so the premium that the restaurant pays for his wonderful local products cuts into the bottom line to a certain point. If this restaurant is going to keep the doors open and the lights on they must make up that money somewhere...in comes the beverage program.Now when it comes to the beverage program there are certainly some outstanding breweries in the San Diego area but the wine list would most certainly have to look hundreds of miles north to Napa, Sonoma, Oregon, Washington, and some foreign labels in all likelihooh. That is, if they want to have the type of wine list that will draw in the type of diners who are going to buy bottles of wine to enhance their dining experience.

                        What do you think the local farmers and dairy producers would want the restaurant to do? Do you think they would want the restaurant to offer those far away wines so that they can remain profitable, stay open, and purchase their product so that they can support their families? I bet they would.

                        It may not be the perfect farm to table restaurant but it is still very good.

                        1. re: jpc8015

                          I don't doubt that and if they choose to do that's ok. But I'd like to hope that if they are near a solid region that there might be an emphasis on the local product at least.

                    4. re: sayrob

                      Whether or not everything the restaurant uses in their food or wine list is produced locally or not the money that we spend on dinners out at los angeles area restaurants supports local families, who spend much of their money locally, supporting other local businesses.

                      For instance, I really don't feel bad about buying coffee from Central America, helping support hard working and often struggling local coffee bean growers. Or buying chocolate from small cocoa bean growers in Africa.

                      We are an inter-connected world when it comes to business, and trying to buy only locally produced food, or any other items, is going to end up hurting a lot of local families who earn their living, and spend much of it, right here where they live and work.

                    5. re: Chinon00

                      Also the movement is supposed to support the local economy; instead of sending our dollars to distant faceless corporations.
                      _____________________

                      Why is there a need to support "the local economy"? And what the hell does that even mean?

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        It means if you value "farm to table" food then by supporting small local farmers (versus Agribusiness) we'll be assured to have this food around for ourselves and children.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Ethically raised local animals; and not ones pumped w/ tons of antibiotics because they live packed together standing in their own feces.

                            1. re: Chinon00

                              What does have to do with "local"?

                                1. re: Chinon00

                                  You said the following:

                                  "It means if you value "farm to table" food then by supporting small local farmers (versus Agribusiness) we'll be assured to have this food around for ourselves and children."

                                  Then I asked you what you meant by "this food" to which you said:

                                  "Ethically raised local animals; and not ones pumped w/ tons of antibiotics because they live packed together standing in their own feces."

                                  In turn, I wanted to know what and how that has anything to do with what you said previously about "supporting small local farmers (versus Agribusiness)."

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Large agribusiness farms often use techniques to raise animals that many think are unethical; and that result is food that isn't as tasty nor as healthy for you as small farms using ethical techniques. I think it's intuitive that farm to table supporters would wanna use local small ethical farmers than ones farther away?

                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      Local and ethical/organic are two different things. I go to the farmers market in Salem, Oregon and while all of the food there is local...I am not sure that any of it is organic. On the other hand, one can go to Whole Foods and buy organic strawberries from Mexico in January; hardly local.

                                      Some people live near the Tyson chicken farms in Arkansas. For them it is local. An absurd example...I know.

                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                        That's why I believe I've used both local AND ethical multiple instances on this thread.

                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                          I think ipse's point was that you seemed to be using the two terms interchangeably in certain posts (at the least you were assuming that by referring to one you implied the other as well). As jpc8015 noted, local doesn't always mean ethical, and ethical doesn't always mean local.

                                          Porthos brings up a very good point that when it comes to wine, local is very rarely better. If restaurants just resorted to BYOW to avoid contradicting their philosophy, as Chinon00 suggests, customers would end up bringing in their own 'non-local' wines which is philosophically the same thing. Doesn't that make the diners hypocrites instead of the restaurants?

                                          And if you're so adamant that a farm-to-table restaurant do everything locally, shouldn't you also be demanding that the furnishings, utensils, cookware, equipment, etc. be 100% local as well? Those are all a part of a restaurant's operating costs...if they don't pour those dollars into "local" economy, according to you, aren't they breaking from their philosophy?

                                          But luckily for the OP (whose last question everyone forgot)...Congress and USDA define locality as anything less than 400mi from source or within the same state, so any OC farm-to-table restaurant that serves wine from NorCal serves "local" wine. :D

                                          [apologies for the wall of text]

                                          1. re: yangster

                                            Those are all very fair questions to those in the farm to table movement. Repurposing of metal and wood for furniture has be done and is in the same spirit as farm to table I think. My local brewpub features art from local artists only on their walls. Same thing.

                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                              Where does the salt in the shaker on the table come from? I would be that it is Morton's.

                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                Would that be the "hard rock" salt?

                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                  Either way, I doubt that it is local.

                                                2. re: jpc8015

                                                  There is a big salt operation at the south end of SF bay.

                                                  http://www.montereybaysaltco.com/
                                                  or salt extracted from a surfer's wet suit, and used in a local restaurant. :)

                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                    "..everything on the plate — from the meat to the fish, from the mushrooms to the blueberries to the sumac — will come from local farms or will be foraged or extracted from the wild. (Salt included, says Levi.)"

                                                    http://www.grubstreet.com/2013/06/dav...

                                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                                        They won't last a year.
                                                        ____________________________

                                                        Especially if it tastes like shit.

                                                        1. re: jpc8015

                                                          What drives you to conclude that?

                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                            Their food costs are going to be through the roof. Couple that with the fact that it such a niche restaurant that I just don't see a market in Portland, ME that is going to be willing to pay high prices in the long run. There are a lot of people who may go once just to be able to say they went, but I don't see them having a lot of repeat business.

                                                            I hope I am wrong. I hate to see somebody invest a ton of money and pride only to have it turn out poorly.

                                                        2. re: Chinon00

                                                          "..everything on the plate — from the meat to the fish, from the mushrooms to the blueberries to the sumac — will come from local farms or will be foraged or extracted from the wild. (Salt included, says Levi.)"
                                                          __________________________________

                                                          Ok, but does it taste *good*?

                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                            Sooke Harbor House on Vancouver Island claims to use 'very local' ingredients. They give tours of their garden, and talk about using herbs like lemon verbena in place of lemons.

                                                            http://www.sookeharbourhouse.com/wine...

                                                            It looks they do use BC wines (not quite as local as their herbs
                                                            )http://www.sookeharbourhouse.com/must...

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              they use BC wines because no American wine can be imported into Canada, without paying a very major tariff.

                                                              Hence, the local stuff, by default.

                                                              The only wines imported from outside Canada used to have to be French. Not positive if that is still the case, but Canada is very protective of its own productivity.

                                                              Personally, here in LA, I really wish no place wanted to source wine locally, as the imports are so much better, by and large, and more affordably priced.

                                                              When you can drink wine from all over the southern hemisphere, not called Australia or New Zealand, for very modest prices, why pay steep prices just for the PRIVILEGE of drinking locally? Or maybe southern Franch, eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal?

                                                              American wine is simply too expensive for the quality involved.

                                                      2. re: yangster

                                                        As jpc8015 noted, local doesn't always mean ethical, and ethical doesn't always mean local.
                                                        ____________________

                                                        Exactly.

                                                        I know many many so-called "local" farmers who are anything but ethical.

                                                        And I know of quite a few agribusinesses that do strive to be as environmentally and socially conscious as possible (whatever the hell that may mean, or entail).

                                                        But, really, at the end of the day, I eat food (and drink wine) because it tastes good -- not because I'm trying to make a social statement of some sort.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          "But, really, at the end of the day, I eat food (and drink wine) because it tastes good -- not because I'm trying to make a social statement of some sort."

                                                          Well that explains everything. ;]

                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                            It's really the only reason I'm here.

                                                            I'm a self-avowed socially tone-deaf glutton.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              To slightly paraphrase Captain Renault in "Casablanca" in his reply to Rick (right before one of Rick's employees came up Renault to give the Captain his gambling winnings) when he asked Renault on what grounds he was closing his establishment

                                                              "I'm shocked, shocked to find that ipsedixit is here for only the food and nothing more!" (g)

                                2. re: jpc8015

                                  Navin Johnson would strongly disagree!

                                  1. re: manku

                                    Actually I worked at a wine store in South Jersey whose policy was to "cold chain" all their wine. Their wine was kept cold from the vineyard cellar to their store (the store was also kept at a lower temp). Much of there wines were supposed to be consumed young and were from small usually family operations in France, Germany, Italy and the United States.

                                    1. re: manku

                                      I may have found my special purpose.

                                  2. I'd say yes and no.

                                    Yes that it would make sense to provide local wine choices. Why not?

                                    But locally sourcing food and wine are two different thing. Food often needs fresh ingredients. So locally-grown fruits and vegetables, fish and foul make perfect sense. Beef not so much because you could age it. (still - when in Tuscany, love to have their local beef.)

                                    Which brings us to wine - which is more often than not preferable with some (and sometimes lots) of age on it. And if you don't screw it up - it can travel.

                                    Beer should be local - it's best when young and fresh.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                      So you see it solely from the freshness perspective and not also from appreciating the local character?

                                    2. I haven't seen many in the area that are exclusively "local" wines, though I'd agree that the need for local wines is less important in my mind. That said, you're more likely to find places that have a heavy wine list influenced by the local area in wine country. For example, in Lake Elsinore/Temecula, there are a few, and plenty in Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Paso Robles to name just a few.

                                      1. I think the dining public doesn't give too much thought to "locally" produced wines because they consider it to be a processed beverage, like beer or fine spirits. There's a lot of human intervention from the moment the grapes are harvested to the final bottling & corking. Despite what certain proponents of "natural" wine may tell you, wine can never be an unadulterated drink like fresh-pressed fruit juice... there's just too many steps & decisions that need to be made in the vinification process.

                                        Saying that, I think it would be an interesting angle if a bistro or casual eatery chose to feature just "local" wines in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint. Besides the high-priced micro-boutique bottles coming out of Malibu and SM Mountains/Bel-Air, I think wineries as far north as Paso Robles or south as Rancho Santa Fe are close enough to be considered local. Especially since many vendors at southland farmer's markets come from these environs.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: zinFAN

                                          Locally produced wine, from grapes grown without Owens Valley water, shipped to the restaurant in bulk (or at least magnums).

                                          However for a Long Beach restaurant, a Chilean wine shipped by container ship might have a lower footprint than a Napa wine (shipped by truck) - provided the distributor is local as well.

                                          Wine foot prints
                                          http://www.drvino.com/2007/10/30/calc...
                                          http://www.livescience.com/3041-carbo...
                                          http://www.knowtheflow.com/2012/getti...

                                          The next thing restaurants need to tackle is the carbon foot print of the customers, like locating on a lightrail line with a minimum of parking.

                                          1. re: zinFAN

                                            "I think the dining public doesn't give too much thought to "locally" produced wines because they consider it to be a processed beverage, like beer or fine spirits"

                                            What does that mean? Does the dining public consider non-local wines to be not processed beverages?

                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                              "I think the dining public doesn't give too much thought to "locally" produced wines because they consider it to be a processed beverage, like beer or fine spirits"

                                              We certainly do. We always choose California wines over other wines, especially other "new world" wines. The exception is Port at dessert.

                                          2. Well said, Sayrob. We should support California wines. There are many fine wine regions beyond the obvious Napa and Sonoma. We have perfect microclimate regions for growing a variety of wines such as Paso Robles, Livermore, Santa Ynez, Russian River, Alexander Valley, etc.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: granadafan

                                              There are some wines from Alexander Valley that I love. Murphey Goode comes to mind.