Organic Wines- Jan/Feb 2020

Wine Feature – Organic Wines by Ann Coppinger

Almost weekly I meet a customer who is baffled by the bad reactions they get from wine. Most tell me that when they were younger they could enjoy many kinds of wine; but not now. It’s possible that sensitivities become more apparent with age. Whatever the reason, I usually suggest trying wine that is organically grown with very little human intervention. 

Our Winery Focus for January and February is just that. Give them a try. Most wineries are responsible with the herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides, but many people are more sensitive than others. Organic and biodynamic farmers also protect our groundwater and reverse soil erosion. Most of all, you’ll be surprised at how flavorful these ripe wines are. The terminology is confusing so:

Grapes harvest. Farmers hands with freshly harvested black grapes.

Organics 101

Sustainable Farming- This refers to a range of agricultural practices that are ecologically sound, and socially responsible. They recycle, conserve energy and water, use renewable resources, minimize the use of chemicals- and use the least toxic option.

Organically Grown- Like sustainable farmers, organic farmers conserve water, soil, and use renewable resources. Organic standards prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Chemical or sludge-based fertilizers are also banned. Genetically engineered crops are prohibited. (They don’t necessarily recycle or use biodegradable packaging)

To be certified organic : the vineyard must go 3 years without synthetic chemicals, and be inspected every year. No sulfites can be added as a preservative, and the wine must contain less than 10 parts per million of sulfites. 

To be “made with organic grapes” or “organically grown grapes”- sulfites may be added, but the finished wine, may not exceed 100 parts per million.

Biodynamic- This holistic approach was founded in the 1920’s by Austrian scientist Rudolf Steiner. It’s about treating the whole farm as a living organism. It combines organic farming with the tenets of homeopathy; follows the natural rhythms of the earth, and seeks a spiritual connection with the land. All organic waste is recycled into the nutrient stream, predator and prey animals are encouraged to maintain the ecosystem balance, and preparations for the vineyard are made from herbs, minerals and manures.

To be certified biodynamic-  The entire farm must be certified at once, not by vineyard, 3 years of no prohibited chemicals, and under biodynamic management for 2 years. Sulfites may be added up to 100 parts per million. The wine may not be manipulated in any way: all natural yeasts , no added sugar, acids or tannins allowed. Only bentonite clay or egg whites from free range chickens are permitted for fining. Environmentally friendly label material is encouraged.