Wine Joins the Debate Over Privilege and Justice

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“But it was too hard to separate her from her family’s history. Not knowing what the truth is, it’s too close for us to say this producer doesn’t do any of this stuff. I can’t tell my clients that, I can’t tell my employees that, I can’t tell myself that.”

For Jenny Lefcourt of Jenny & François Selections, which imported Ms. Passalacqua’s Calcarius brand, the question was not so clear-cut. When the initial reports came out, she stood by Ms. Passalacqua, not wanting to blame the daughter for the sins of the father.

Ms. Lefcourt’s hesitancy opened her up to accusations of hypocrisy, of refusing to sacrifice economically, even though Jenny & François has portrayed itself as a company that stands up for social justice.

“This isn’t about cancel culture,” wrote Jennifer Green — who publishes Glou Glou, a wine zine, and runs Super Glou, a small natural-wine importing business — on Instagram. “This is about our impulse to preach at the altar of wokeness, only to abandon that platform when it suits our whims and especially our wallets.”

The response stung Ms. Lefcourt, who has been a pioneer in American natural-wine culture and recently marked Jenny & François’s 20th anniversary as an importer.

“I’m a political person, and I hope to represent people whose beliefs align with my own, who respect human dignity and never discriminate or exploit,” she said. “I wanted to give her a chance to defend herself.”

By the end of July, though, she, too, had decided to drop the brand.

“There’s land that her father owns that her vines are planted on, and even if the labor she used was paid fairly, if she’s using that land she’s profiting from the exploitation of labor,” Ms. Lefcourt said. “Even that’s not clear, but it’s still too close for comfort, and I don’t feel she separated her interests enough from his.”

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