As many of us have begun incorporating wine into a healthy lifestyle, a healthier wine is not just an option, it's also a necessity. Concerns over chemical residues in the foods we eat have lead many of us to organic produce and organically made products. Wine is no different. A wine made from organically grown grapes has no chemical residue from pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers.
Organically grown grapes come from living, breathing soil, full of microbial life unhampered by unnatural treatments. These grapes are generally healthier and more alive, with a higher content of natural trace elements and minerals (broken down by the microbes in the soil and absorbed by the vine’s root system). This brings forth better tasting fruit, rich in minerality and “terroir” that is unique to the soil from which it was bred. And, it’s no secret that better tasting grapes inevitably make better tasting wines.
Organic viticulture is also better for the environment. An organic vineyard does not contribute pollution to the air, ground water, or to its neighbors, and encourages life on all levels rather than discouraging it through chemical treatments.
Some wines may be labeled “biodynamically grown.” Biodynamic viticulture takes the principles of organic farming to a higher degree. Biodynamic viticulture, or simply biodynamics, is a branch of viticultural science conceived by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. It stresses the importance of the many balances (and imbalances) in nature that effect the health and homeopathic strength of the vine. It highlights the relationship between the vine and the vital life forces that supports its very existence. Biodynamics emphasizes natural holistic treatments to increase the vine’s resistance to disease, as well as a biorhythmic approach to treatments, pruning and harvesting resulting in healthier vines and better tasting fruit. Biodynamics is a common sense approach to viticulture employing age-old wisdom that studies the relationship of the vine with the sun, moon, stars, and earth. A biodynamic vineyard is in complete harmony with its surroundings, and is generally a self-sufficient entity. Biodynamic vineyards are always environmentally friendly, respecting the earth and their natural surroundings.
Wines made from organic and biodynamically grown grapes are generally (but not always) lower in sulfur than wines made from conventional farming methods., Many of these growers exert a more mindful approach to winemaking, using indigenous yeasts and taking a non-interventionist approach towards handcrafting their wines. None of these wines will have any harmful chemical residues and are made with your concerns about a healthy lifestyle in mind.
Organic certification in the vineyard is done by local government agencies. In the US, it is done by branches of individual states (such as the CCOF – California Certified Organic Farmers), under guidelines set up by the FDA. Demeter, an international agency governing 3500 producers in 40 countries, is the official certifying body for biodynamics. We make every effort on this website to verify the authenticity of a grower’s claim if they are not certified. Many small growers have been practicing organic and biodynamic viticulture for years without going through the red tape of certification. We have sought out these growers as well as those with certification. We are prudent in researching the authenticity of every producer listed on this page, many of whom we have met with in person and discussed their programs with, and we feel comfortable in our recommendations. We are constantly updating our database as every new growing season, more and more growers are taking the sensible approach to grape growing and winemaking.
Certified organic wines are made from organically grown grapes and have no added sulfites, a naturally occurring element that has been used for thousands of years to protect wines from bacterial spoilage and to keep them fresh. Wines made with the addition of organic sulfur cannot be labeled as Certified Organic in this country, though we have found that many organic and biodynamic growers generally treat their wines minimally with sulfur, resulting in cleaner tasting wines.
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