What is Clean-Crafted Wine? Is it really that much better?

If you're wondering what the "buzz" is about with the Clean-Crafted™ wine movement, you've come to the right place. The wine is delivered to your door and has a variety of benefits, so there's plenty to gain from learning more about it. Feel free to read top to bottom or skip around to your specific questions. I'll get straight to the Frequently Asked Questions:

"What is clean-crafted wine?"
"Clean-Crafted™" wine is a trademarked term created by the Scout & Cellar winery. Their Clean-Crafted Commitment® requires that grapes are farmed without toxic pesticides, and that wine is produced without synthetic processing aides and is low in sulfites. The requirements are verified by internal review of documented viticulture and winemaking practices, and validated by independent lab testing. 

Founded by an attorney (Sarah Shadonix) turned Advanced Sommelier, Scout & Cellar was born out of deep dive on the ingredients in the majority of wines made and/or sold in the United States. While completing her Sommelier training, Sarah continued to get terrible wine headaches without any explanation. Rather than give up the trade and chalk the headaches up to a "wine allergy", Sarah went searching for answers. After speaking to wine makers, doctors, naturopaths, and pouring over the research, she realized it was the additives and pesticides in the wine process that were the culprits of her headaches. She was shocked to learn that many of the world's wines can contain up to 300 chemicals and additives that are allowed in the wine-making process, many of which are not needed if the wines are properly crafted. Sarah worked hard to create relationships with vineyards around the world that would meet stricter standards for their wine, and the Clean-Crafted™movement was born. This video shows every step of extra detail that goes into the clean-crafted winemaking process:

Usually, you won't know if the wine you're currently drinking has added sugars, chemicals, pesticides, or what the calorie count is because the labeling requirements for alcohol are almost nil (Fact: wine is primarily overseen by the Department of Treasury, not the FDA!). Hence the creation of the Scout & Cellar Clean-Crafted™ seal. In many ways, the Clean-Crafted™ movement is to wine what the organic movement was to food in the US in the 1990s in terms of pushing for industry transparency and greater consumer awareness of what could be in their food/wine.

"Does clean-crafted wine taste the same? What if I don't like it?"
The wine tastes like real wine, because it IS real wine! It's wine the way it was made before wine makers started messing with the color, texture and taste through additives and before herbicides, fungicides and other chemicals were added to farming practices. It's also not watered down or full of artificial sweeteners like some "diet wines" on the market. It's just grapes and the lowest amount of sulfites needed to keep the wine from turning to vinegar. The only thing you won't taste is some of the heaviness/aftertaste that additives and pesticides can add. But if for some reason you don't like it, Scout & Cellar still offers a Satisfaction Guarantee. Unlike buying a random wine at the liquor store, there's nothing to lose. 

Still not sure? The finished wine must meet a high threshold of quality. Specifically, the wine must be assessed for quality by their internal tasting panel consisting of a trained sommelier and experienced quality assurance and wine procurement experts. Plus, Scout & Cellar's popularity speaks for itself. As of 2021, this winery is in the top 50 producers in the U.S. - which is based on total number of cases. Most wineries are private and do not release revenue, so total case production is the most common way size ranking is done. Their wine subscription (Scout Circle) is one of the Top 3 wine clubs in the U.S. with over 40,000 members.

"Is the wine more expensive?"
Is it more expensive than the $12 bottle from the gas station down the street? Yes. It should be. Just like a hamburger from McDonalds will cost less than a grass-fed burger from a natural burger joint, so too will mass-produced wine cost less than clean-crafted wine. But not by much! Scout & Cellar has wines that are $19 a bottle, and their wine club also offers discounts to the total cost of wines otherwise purchased a la carte.

Back to the cost, it's important to know why there is an additional cost to the production of this wine. Where mass-produced wine includes grapes (and subsequently some of the leaves, bugs and pieces of stems) harvested by a large machine, Clean-Crafted™ grapes are often hand harvested and hand vinified. In mass-produced wine, rotten grapes are often harvested by the machine and mixed in with the other grapes, whereas rotten grapes are noticed and excluded from hand-harvested grapes. Mass-produced wine also can add chemicals/sugars to offset the rotten and/or underripe grapes and clean-crafted wines don't have to. Step by step throughout the production process, the Clean-Crafted™ wines have additional steps, attention to detail, and testing, resulting in a higher-quality wine with a higher production cost. A worthwhile cost.

If you drink/gift at least one bottle of wine a month, Scout & Cellar has a wine club option for you and subsequently a better price point per bottle. You can read about the club options here. The most you can get is 12 bottles sent every month and the least is 4 bottles sent every quarter ($89 shipping included). All reds, all whites or mixed are offered in most bottle counts.

"How does Scout & Cellar know if a wine meets their standards?"
They test it, every batch! Scout & Cellar tests to validate the wines meet the clean-crafted list of ETS Laboratories they test for things like sugar, alcohol, acidity PH and more. S&C then sends the wines to UC Davis, the premiere vinicultural school in the US, and test for over 300 pesticides, including glyphosate. It is a residue test and it is expensive, but it is critical!

"Isn't organic and clean-crafted the same?"
Fair question, but no. Clean-Crafted™ wine goes beyond organic standards because it is *just* grapes and naturally occurring sulfites. Scout & Cellar only allows added sulfites if needed to keep the wine from turning into vinegar, and every bottle is certified less than 100 ppm (most are less than 50ppm), versus up to the 350 ppm allowed in regular wines. Organic wine can still add organic additives, such as sugar, processing aids, have higher sulfites etc. and not tell you about it. They can also have residuals from non-organic herbicides and pesticides through water runoff or overspray from nearby farms, but they wouldn't know it unless they test their own wines. Of all of the organic and biodynamic wines that are submitted to Scout & Cellar to be considered for distribution, only about 15% pass the stringent standards once lab tests are involved (as of 2020).

"Are the clean-crafted wines all from one vineyard?"
No, the wines are from vineyards all over the world. Sarah herself goes to the vineyards and wineries, meets with them and taste tests wine. She even crafts many of the wine blends with them, using her sommelier knowledge to ensure an excellent sipping experience for each wine as well as a variety of flavor profiles across all the wines Scout & Cellar carries. Her goal was to not only create clean-crafted wine, but create a wine experience for customers that was inclusive of variety, quality, and wine education.

"Do any other companies make clean-crafted wines?"
This is really important... if a company doesn't throughly lab test their wines to confirm that they are actually free from all of the chemicals, pesticides, etc that can be found in the farming and wine-production process, they can't claim or prove that their wines are truly as clean as they might say. No other wine company has wines with the same standards of Scout & Cellar, and especially not with the extensive testing they invest in. Also, Scout & Cellar is the only company of these listed to allow a la carte purchasing of wines, plus has specialty products like canned wines, wine spritzers, and mixables (a wine-based lower alcohol product for cocktails). Even more, the are the only company run by a sommelier (not to mention an Advanced WSET) who is committed to making sure every wine has a top-notch sipping experience. Lastly, Scout & Cellar takes extra steps to ensure the delivery of our wines is done with professional care (no hot wines showing up at your doorstep here). That's a lot of differences! 

Want to participate in the Clean-Crafted wine movement? Here are three ways you can...

Become a customer - You can purchase wines a la carte HERE. If you do purchase a la carte, know that orders of 6 bottles or more include shipping at no additional cost year round (yes, even in the summer!), and you'll get a bulk discount of 5% off for +6 bottles or 10% off for +12 bottle orders!

Become a club member / subscriber - The membership is free and you can adjust or cancel it at any time with no penalty. You can get 4, 6 or 12 bottles every month, two months, or quarter. The variety of wines in each shipment is selected to give members exposure to all kinds of familiar and new types of wines (domestic and international), and each shipment comes with descriptions and food pairing recommendations for your wine education. Many of the club wines are exclusive and not available a la carte unless you are a club member. Best of all, the prices are fixed and affordable! Click here to join the club.

Become a Scout & Cellar Wine Consultant - For $249, you can start your own wine business with Scout & Cellar. You'll receive four bottles of wine, the Business Basics Kit, and one year of your wine website to accept wine orders. Consultants get commissions for sharing the wines with their networks and local businesses. There is zero inventory to manage or accumulate because the wine ships directly to the customer from Scout & Cellar, and you can grow your business as quickly or as slowly as you like. Consultants also receive ongoing wine education and support the larger movement of encouraging more transparent wine practices in the industry.
See FAQs for the wine business here. If you just want to get started, you can sign up here. And if you would like to request additional details about the compensation plan, you can email scoutandcellaraspen AT gmail.com for all of the details not listed on the website.  

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