HARVESTING REAL CORK FOR A multitude of purposes—from flooring and display boards to bottle stoppers—is a sustainable practice. The trees are not destroyed during the process; if the cork layer is removed correctly, it may be harvested from a cork tree every seven to nine years over its 400-year lifespan without harm. Cork comes from Mediterranean climes—the best comes from Spain and Portugal—but that’s not to say the supply is unlimited or the resources unrestricted. And in the wine world, the debate over the efficacy of using natural cork versus artificial stoppers or screw caps continues.
Enter ReCORK (recork.org), a project designed to recycle real (not plastic) bottle corks. The organization, started in 2008, has recycled more than 70 million corks to date. Now, Westchester’s Rosemary and Vine is joining in on the cause.
Owners Berj Yeretzian and Tania Rahal grew up in the Mediterranean, and they celebrate vegetarian Mediterranean cuisine at the restaurant. Since partnering with ReCork six months ago, the couple has rolled out two major changes: The entire wine menu now includes only wines sealed with real cork, and the restaurant has become a public collection site. Corks can be deposited in a box located at the restaurant.
Bar- and tabletops, room dividers and display boards aside, recycled cork is used to make yoga blocks and anti-slip pads for surf boards, and new uses for the material continue to be, well, uncorked constantly. Most ReCORK partners are wineries or merchants; Rosemary and Vine is the first restaurant in the Hudson Vally to become a partner, leading a trend here that is gaining momentum nationwide.