Organic Wine: Healthier for You and the Environment

DSC00886Do you like ending your day with a glass of wine but would love to skip out on the headache the morning after?  Don’t we all! Organic wine may be your answer! The no sulfite-added quality of organic wine can make a dramatic difference for those wine enthusiasts who are sensitive to this preservative regularly added in the traditional wine producing process. What’s even better, the organic farming and wine making processes are better for the environment and for our health.

America’s interest in naturally produced foods and goods has given a boost to the organic wine industry. So what makes a wine organic? According to the National Organic Program (NOP), organic wine is defined as wine made from organically grown grapes without any added sulfite. Organic or not, grapes naturally produce sulfur dioxide through the process of fermentation. A certain amount of sulfate is needed for the stability of the wine. However, conventional wineries add sulfate to expedite fermentation and longer preservation. An organic wine will include a maximum of 100 parts per million of sulfate (ppm) while the conventional wine contains over 350ppm.

Don’t be fooled! When looking for a great organic wine, be cautious not to confuse “sulfite free wine” with “organic wine” because the two differ greatly. Sulfite free wine is processed to remove the sulfate but it does not have to be produced in an eco friendly way.

Organic vineyards promote an environmentally safe way of farming by reducing the negative ecological impacts from chemicals such as pollution, soil depletion, and lack of biodiversity. To be considered organic, the grapes are holistically grown without the use of any pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, and other synthetic products that are harmful to the environment.

Many organic vineyards, like Bonterra Vineyard, are centering their viticulture philosophy on biodynamic farming practices, which views the land as the focal point and as a living system that’s to be in tune with the totality of all life. These organic growing practices are dependent upon living organisms, weather, and moon patterns to keep perfect harmony with nature. Coturri Winery, located in the Sonoma Mountains of California, is also known for its dedication of being environmentally conscious.

How about the taste? California’s Coturri Winery has received numerous awards for its organic wines. Being the leading American organic vineyard, it has been featured in the Wall Street Journal more than six times since 1999 and has received the highest rating possible from Wall Street Journal reviewers Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher.

In the east, a popular wine store in Wesley Chapel, Fla., Put a Cork In It, sells an assortment of organic brands along with conventional wines. The storeowner, Phil Kitchingman, says that organic wine is “a growing industry that will be the future of all wine partially because organic wine allows people to enjoy wine without worrying about headaches.” Kitchingman added that he sees an increasing number of people steering away from sulfates in wine by embracing the organic brands. The organic wine industry “is a great way for people with allergies to drink wine,” he commented. People can come on Thursday and Friday evenings to the store and take part in a wine tasting event for $25. At this event, you can learn about an assortment of wines while enjoying grapes, cheese and crackers, and great company. Kitchingman has recently featured a handful of organic wines at his events. Among these organic wines were The Casablanca, Chile Chardonnay, Novas, a major hit with its crisp honeyed fruit taste with a great balance of minerality. The Clos Roche Blanc, a Sauvignon Blanc from France, which was showcased as a fantastic wine to pair with seafood and chicken entrees. The Italian Pinot Grigio, Tiamo was a personal favorite of his that features a fresh citrus taste mixed with flavors of tangerine hinted with pineapple, white pepper and a light mineral finish.

The U.S. is catching up in organic wine production although much of these eco-friendly wines are imported from foreign countries. California produces more than 90 percent of the U.S. organic wine that is shipped all over the states. With the increase in national and global environmental issues, the organic industry has a hearty future. Organic vineyards are one leading example for the rest of America’s agriculture to follow.

Embrace organic wine. Both you and the environment can now be healthier.

Here is a list of must try U.S. organic wines!

  • Coturri Winery, Testa Cabernet Sauvignon. Mendocino County
  • Schweiger Winery, St. Helena
  • Mathieu Vineyard, Cote des Cailloux. Mendocino County.
  • Bonterra Vineyard, Chardonnay. Mendocino County.
  • Oster Wine Cellar, 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon. Redwood Valley, Mendocino County
  • Korbel Champagne Cellar, Chardonnay. Sonoma Valley.

~Jennifer Scotto