Many individuals are continuously looking for healthier options for their diet and lifestyle, as we all should. The organic craze is nothing new in today’s food culture as more chemicals and pesticides are being used to remove insects, fungus and rodents from our gardens and yes, vineyards.
While most wine makers have some level of respect for eco-friendly processes in both grape growing and winemaking, there are specific wineries that produce registered Certified Organic Wine. Of course the regulations that determine “certified organic” vary in every country.
When growing grapes for organic wine and through the entire wine making process there is no room for the use of chemical additions. Instead of using synthetic herbicides to remove weeds and fertilizers, wineries use mechanical weeding (remove weeds by hand or with machine) and natural compost. Organic wine also reduces the use of pesticides. Instead, wineries will either use chickens or handpick cutworms from vine leaves.
Specific non-chemically enhanced products are also available for organic farmers to remove pests. However, these sprays typically require three to four applications and wipe out all bugs, including beneficial predators. Obviously organic wine comes at a price, similar to organic fruits or vegetables. On average it costs 20% more to run an organic vineyard then non-organic, thus prices are escalated.
Organic Certified emblems are added onto wine labels that meet all requirements. If organic products are valuable in your dietary preferences keep an eye out – there are plenty of them out there. If you’re unsure, check the wineries website.
Now don’t jump to negativity as non-organic wine isn’t all horrible. In fact, there are benefits to some of the products used in conventional wine making. For example, in order to manage pests winemakers have options for environmentally friendly pesticides. Vintner Kevin Phillips of Bechtold Vineyards uses Agri-Mek, a chemical that allows him to only remove harmful insects and keep those that benefit his vines after only one spray.
Non-organic wine also uses GMO yeasts in winemaking, which carries out malolactic fermentation at the same time as alcoholic fermentation and “unlocks flavour and aroma.” This not only allows for the winemaking process to move much quicker (meaning much more wine!) but also reduces risk of wine spoilage. It also removes biogenic amines that can have negative health risks; however, GMO is said to have health effects of its own.
While both organic and non-organic wines have their own benefits and downfalls they do have their similarities. Both wines do require the use of preservatives. Sulphur Dioxide that is produced by yeast during fermentation acts to protect wine from microbial contamination, mould and yeast. All wine contains a minimum of 1050 mg/L of preservatives that allow you to cellar wine while it continues to enhance its deliciousness.
Depending on your dietary preferences, organic wine may be your best option, although I wouldn’t let this stray you from ever trying a non-organic wine. In fact, WineCollective features plenty of both organic and non-organic wines in our packages. The bottom line is vineyard staff and winemakers are all looking to produce a wine that they are proud of and even more, tastes nothing like bug spray.