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  • Writer's pictureNick Keppel-Palmer

Making buying stuff a political act

Artisan wines

Last week the Teliani Collection of small batch artisan wines was launched in the wonderful depths of the not-quite-yet-open wine museum in Tbilisi.

It was a lovely event with loads of cool Georgians, super talented winemakers and a host of smart people. I love this project because everyone wins - the would be winemakers get to turn their passion into a profession, giving them an incentive to restore the land and the stock of grapes, the wine business of Teliani Valley gets kudos for lending its expertise and effort into bringing these wines to the world, the wine lover gets to taste super rare wines they could never get elsewhere.

Gia Devnozashvili - lawyer by day, winemaker by night
Some of the collection - there are 10 wines in total

Pretty much everyone involved in making and bringing the wines into the world was in that room - including the sons and daughters of the makers. The people who made the wine and the people who drink the wine were all in the same place - swapping stories, sharing together.

Wine bits and bobs

The not-quite-yet-open museum is a lot of fun - full of wine bits and bobs going back to 6 millennia BC. It seems that the kind of "let's all get together and share" culture around wine has always been a thing.

Amongst my favourite things were this kind of aroma-tron - you puff the puffer and the wine aromas are intensified, so even a heathen like me can appreciate the nuances and subtleties:

Wine Aromatron

And also these are apparently drinking cups from a very long time ago (second millennium BC) called a "communicating vessel". (There's a similar thing down in Somerset for cider which is a Wassail jug, it has three handles for sharing):

Making buying stuff a political act

One of the challenges we have been wrestling with as we develop Good Growth, is how to connect the buyer, the consumer, much more closely with the regenerative impact at the head of the value chain. The point of these chains is that they do good - everything is designed to restore and not deplete the stock of natural and human capital. The act of consuming this wine or any of the products in a Good Growth chain is - by definition - an act of regeneration.

I am really struck by the strong connection and alignment between the makers and the consumers - part of the value for both is in the shared interest in restoring and reviving environment and livelihoods. That's what I felt in the wine museum.

I think there is a massive and important distinction between consumption that is extractive - that depletes natural and human capital - and consumption that restores it.

This is important because when you start applying the regenerative/extractive lens to consumption it becomes a heck of a lot easier to work out what's good and what's not.

For instance I now have a much clearer idea of what makes me uneasy about battery electric vehicles - the batteries can't be made without extracting a very precious and finite resource. In clothing and fabric especially the distinction between a product that is regenerative and one that is extractive is crucial - much more crucial than any of the standards and marks that are floating about at the moment and which focus on standardised inputs not actual outcomes for the environment or for humans. It calls into question what we really mean by "luxury" and whether it can ever be a good thing (I think not), and whether the debate around "fast fashion" should focus less on the fast and more on the fashion.

Can we find a way to signal very clearly whether buying a product is regenerative or extractive? It would be a breakthrough.

I think we can, so we're going to try. Watch this space.


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