At EcoVine Wine Club we actively seek out organic vineyards and wineries, meet and talk to the owners and winemakers, and narrow our selection to the most enjoyable and expertly made organically grown wines. Today it has become increasingly important for vineyards to strive beyond the standards of commercially "acceptable" methods of agriculture where synthetic and chemically-based materials are applied to soil and vine in an attempt to regulate productivity and increase profitability. Grapes are high on the list of the most chemically "sprayed" produce in the market today.
A bottle of conventionally produced wine may contain up to 250 different types of chemicals. If you're a wine lover, a year's worth of organically grown wine purchases would keep about two pounds of fertilizers and 50 grams of pesticides out of the environment (and out of your wineglass). If one in twenty wine drinkers decided to demand organic wines, organic vineyards would increase by nearly forty thousand acres, resulting in the elimination of more than 3.3 million pounds of agrochemicals per year.
Are we surprised that many are searching for organic alternatives to conventional wines? The conventional trend is gradually changing as an increasing number of vintners are recognizing common-sense approaches (some age-old) to organic farming techniques. Organic growing practices are reviving the rich traditions of farming and wine making that has been time tested over centuries. The results are not only healthier vines but grapes that have higher nutritional value and more robust flavors.
Only by tasting the intense flavor of an organic grape do you realize that superior produce occurs naturally. Considered a whole food, wine made of organic grapes is valued as intrinsic to the balance of our health, life, and culture. Wine made with organically grown grapes not only benefits the earth, but also gives us a food that only the richness of the earth will produce. (The Green Book by E. Rogers & T. Kostigen, 2007)
Wine grapes are an agricultural product. Conventional wine grapes may be chemically treated like any other agricultural product to deal with pests, viruses, weeds, fungi, and to increase yield. Most wine growers are dependent on chemicals. Organically grown wine is produced using organically grown grapes that have been certified by an officially accredited certifying agency (ACA).
No pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, synthetic fertilizers or chemicals are allowed on the vines or in the soil. Wines made with organic grapes cannot exceed 100 ppm of sulfites and are labeled as "made with organic grapes". These wines cannot use the USDA organic seal. Conventional wines may contain sulfite levels up to 350 parts per million (ppm).
Under the USDA National Organic Program, sulfites are a synthetic food additive. They are not allowed in organic wine or any other certified organic food products, such as dried fruits, jams, salad dressings or juices. Organic is wine made with organically grown grapes and has no added sulfites. Look for this USDA National Organic Program certified logo on the label.
Sulfite is a naturally occurring compound that nature uses to prevent microbial growth. Natural sulfites are found on grape skins, onions, garlic, and on many other growing plants. Sulfites, also known sulfur dioxide (SO2), are a naturally occurring by-product of fermentation.
Sulfite has been used in wine making for centuries. Although technical advances allow winemakers to add much less, some experts believe that some sulfites must be added to those naturally present to make a consistently stable wine. Many believe they are essential in order to inhibit the growth of molds and bacteria, prevent spoilage and preserve the wine's natural flavor.
Sulfites, when used properly, are not intrinsically toxic to humans or to the environment. Sulfites, used improperly, can give a rotten-egg smell to wine, making it undrinkable. Other terms used when referring to sulfite compounds are sulfates, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, mercaptans, dimethyl sufide, carbon disulfide, benzenemethanethiol, etc.
All wines contain at least some small trace of natural occurring sulfite; however, wines without any additional sulfites added do exist. A small percentage of people, an estimated 0.4% of the population, are considered highly allergic to sulfites. Other people may have a low tolerance for sulfites and are considered sulfite-sensitive. Some "wine headaches" are simply caused by the alcohol in the product. Ironically, many consumers drink white wine, thinking red wines have more sulfites, when actually white wines typically do.
For those who experience unpleasant reaction to sulfites, "organic wines" are an especially good choice since no sulfites have been added and only minimal to trace amounts of natural occurring sulfites that will, in most cases, lie below their threshold level. Regulations in the United States require that domestic and imported wines have warning labels if sulfites exceed 10 ppm (parts per million). Wines with less than 10 ppm are not required to carry the "Contains Sulfites" label. The term "organic wine" refers to wines that have been made using certified organic grapes and only have naturally occurring sulfites under 10 ppm.
The standards for organic growing of grapes encompass methods that are requiring a strong dedication to sustaining and revitalizing the natural health of our earth and our bodies. The practices require human interaction with the plants and nature. These growers are a dedicated group that understands the wonders that nature can produce with their "gentle" support. Organically growing of grapes tends to originate with smaller vineyards that are unfamiliar to most wine consumers.
Wine labels are not required to declare the use of animal by-products in the winemaking process. Animal by-products sometimes used in clarifying or filtering wine may include egg whites, casein (a milk product), isinglass (derived from fish), or gelatin (derived from animal hooves). Vegan wines, when clarified, use bentonite clay. Many are unfiltered, requiring no clarification techniques. read more>
One of the secrets to French longevity seems to lie in the nourishing fields of the Bordeaux Countryside. Here, organic vineyards bear lush grapes that brim with organic Resveratrol. Until recently the key to preserving youthful radiance and health has been elusive. Clinical studies have begun unraveling some of the mystery that underlies the longer and healthier lives of the French and organic Resveratrolis at the top of the list. read more on Resveratrol>