WHAT IS ORGANIC WINE?
An organic wine is a wine made from grapes that have been grown without the use of artificial or synthetic chemicals, such as herbicides and pesticides. To keep the weeds and bugs at bay, organic farmers work with nature, rather than against it, by boosting their vineyard’s biodiversity. For example, they introduce cover crops to provide a habitat for beneficial insects that are the natural enemy of problem species, or have small sheep graze between the vine rows, eating the grass and weeds. In this way, the vineyard becomes a self-regulating, natural ecosystem, which is able to combat problems intrinsically and eliminates the need for artificial, and potentially toxic, chemicals.
IS ORGANIC WINE HEALTHIER FOR YOU?
In general, organic wine grapes are much healthier and therefore produce heartier skins and higher concentrations of all of those good for you anthocyanins and antioxidants, including polyphenols and cardio-friendly resveratrol. Organic wines are also free of residual traces of vineyard additives such as chemical laced pesticides and herbicides. Certified organic wines also have less sugar on average and don’t contain potentially harmful cellar additives such as flavouring agents or caramel colouring.
IS ORGANIC WINE BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
Specifically, organic vines tend to need less water applied because soils are built up with compost and contain more organic matter, which holds water far better. Organic vines have been proven more resilient against increasing droughts and temperature spikes. By curtailing harmful and unnecessary irrigation practices, organic wineries are protecting local ecosystems and preserving their surrounding flora and fauna. By using less water and not tainting the existing water supply with chemicals and Round-Up, the vineyard workers are doing their part to leave the earth as healthy, if not healthier, than they found it.
ORGANIC VS ORGANICALLY GROWN WINES
There are two common labels for organic wines: ‘organic’ and ‘made with organically grown grapes.’ So what’s the difference? A wine that is labelled ‘organically-grown’ means that no pesticides or synthetics were used in the vineyard. However, additives can be used during winemaking, including sulfites. For a wine to be ‘certified organic,’ it has to be made solely with organic grapes and it cannot have any added sulfites or non-organic elements added during the winemaking process. Sulfites occur naturally in grapes during fermentation, so no wine is completely sulfite-free, but those without added sulfites will often have sulfite levels so low they are undetectable.