We had the good fortune of connecting with Adam Huss and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adam, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Centralas is unique in the wine world in that it is an ecological winery. What that means, practically, is that we make every decision – regarding business operations and logistics, winemaking, sales and marketing, etc. – with the primary goal of minimally doing no harm to, and preferably benefitting, our community ecosystem.
Though this sounds simple enough, the complexity of ecological wine decision making requires a revolution in mindset. Rather than looking to market conditions to guide business intention and overlaying that on our community, we must start with the natural ecosystem and learn from it how we can make a living by serving and stewarding its needs, This is a profound shift in perspective and brings many downstream beneficial impacts.
For example, standard wine businesses might review market data and determine that Cabernet Sauvignon is the best selling wine in America, and will therefore clear land and planting a vineyard of Cab Sauv with a big fancy tasting room. However, Cab Sauv is not indigenous to Los Angeles and requires more water than generally falls here naturally, so it must be sprayed with pesticides and irrigated in order to survive. On the other hand, an ecological approach would look at the Los Angeles area and find that prickly pears are native to this land and thrive in marginal soil on our minimal winter rains. We might then forage or help re-wild an unused area – like under powerlines or in suburban yards instead of lawns.
The end result is a unique – not market driven – product that is reflective of and protective of the local ecosystem, and benefits the community by highlighting diversity and local abundance while saving resources.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We’re pretty weird among wineries. As an ecological winery, we make every decision with a goal to protect or benefit our ecosystem (our community and its environment). We voluntarily list all ingredients we use during winemaking on our labels, even though this isn’t required by law, and we advocate for other producers to do the same. Much of the wine available in grocery stores is more like a “wine beverage” than actual wine. We also list our empty bottle weight, and source California produced glass bottles that are the lightest available. The wine bottle, and its weight, are the source of the overwhelming majority percentage of wine’s carbon footprint, so any reduction has exponential downstream results. We also have stopped listing grape varieties on our labels. The current obsession with grape varieties has led to global monoculture in wine, and nature actually doesn’t care about varieties. Nature wants an ongoing process of selection and adaptation, through diversity, to survive and create resilience. We aim to emulate nature and allow consumer’s understanding of wine to broaden from the narrow focus on a few favored varieties that no longer thrive in current environmental conditions.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Take a morning hike in Temescal Canyon to get the best view of the LA coastline and a sense of how beautiful the area is. Stop at a farmers market, depending on the day, and check out the local abundance as well as people watch. Grab some brunch at Normandie Cafe off Jefferson, one of the best secrets in LA – real French chef and the resulting amazing pastries and foods, hidden in a quiet neighborhood. Maybe play a round of frisbee golf in the afternoon at Kenneth Hahn – LA’s version of Central Park, and a tournament-worthy course – or just stroll to the “I Have A Dream” monument and the best views of LA anywhere. Have dinner at Post & Beam, for some amazing, southern inspired dining and great wine and cocktail selection. Then head down to 1010 Wine & Events in Inglewood for an evening of amazing wine, music, and people.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wendy Huss, my wife & partner, and librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library. LAPL deserves its own shout out as an incredible public resource.