I think it’s a generally accepted fact that Saskatchewan is a beer and whiskey province. Wine here, at least for me growing up, was strictly for weddings or holiday dinners. The options were usually just Red, White, Arbour Mist or something for those who refused to drink wine. Now, I’m not trying to thumb my nose at that at all. In my experience, bad wine never by itself ruined an occasion. It does however hint at the place wine holds in many people’s minds here, which is that wine is showy and fancy or drunk because it’s expected when the nice plates are dusted off. What we try to do with MeraWine is really get people to see wine as something comfortable and satisfying. Whenever we host tastings we do our best to get people to ignore those thoughts of “am I supposed to like it”, and simply ask themselves whether they honestly enjoy it or not.
Most people now understand that the categories for wine have a bit broader range than Red, White, and fruit-based-alcoholic-wine-like-substance. Along with that, I think more people are also starting to discover that there is real enjoyment in finding a wine that connects with them in some way. Which is basically my way of saying that people are starting to find out that wine can be more than just a palatable source of alcohol during large family dinners.
So what do Josh and I do? I guess you could say we run a wine agency that tries to source wines for people to enjoy for reasons beyond just price or familiarity. We always seem to gravitate towards more naturally produced wines, and our portfolio reflects this. All our wines are organic or biodynamic. We didn’t start out by looking for only organic wines, just wines we wanted to drink. As it turns out all the wines we want to drink just happen to also utilize a more natural approach in how they are made.
It is no secret that wines like this are severely underrepresented on the shelves in Saskatchewan. Essentially, this fact was the real inspiration behind starting our company. Out of necessity, the SLGA is built to purchase in large volumes from companies with large marketing budgets. But that also means the wines we want to drink, which are almost always from smaller producers, often get left out. More or less, MeraWine was created to work with the SLGA and help people access wines that are different from the mass-produced brands and labels that are heavily favored on the shelves right now.
All of the winemakers we work with have a huge amount of respect for their land. They all work hard to reduce or eliminate the influence of synthetic chemicals on their finished products. Some people label them natural wines, which I think is a good enough term to use, but also a little simplistic. All of our producers make wines “naturally” to various degrees, but how they do so differs. I think describing “what natural wine is” might be a much longer discussion than I think I have space for here. I hope it’s enough here to just describe MeraWine as a company that promotes people who make wines that reflect their values, and tries give people access to wines they can really connect with.
. Shawn Dalton .
Shawn Dalton is one of two partners at MeraWine and the current General Manager at The Capitol Jazz and Tapas Bar in Regina. MeraWine’s wine can be purchased in Regina at Amy’s Winehouse, The Artful Dodger, The Capitol, Crave, Lancaster, The Willow, and 2010. Elsewhere in the province, look for MeraWine’s products at Ayden, The Backyard, Calories, The Hollows and Wolf’s General Store.