Winemaking That Goes Beyond Organic
Over the past decade, the popularity of organic produce has grown significantly. But, what about organic wine? Many people aren’t even aware that they can get organic wine, and if they are, have the misconception that it doesn’t taste as good as conventional wine.
However, that’s not the case. There are several wineries producing award-winning organic wines including one of the oldest and most popular, California’s Frey Vineyards.
What exactly is organic wine? Organically certified wine is a wine made from organically grown grapes and without any added sulfites.
More specifically, according to the Organic Consumers Association, for a wine to be labeled “organic” and to have the USDA organic seal, it “must be made from organically grown grapes and give information about who the certifying agency is. A wine in this category cannot have any added sulfites. It may have naturally occurring sulfites, but the total sulfite level must be less than 20 parts per million.” And, all organic claims must be clearly stated on the label.
According to the Frey family, wine grapes have been grown “organically” for thousands of years, and they are simply following that tradition. “We take the best of ancient history, an 8000 year old success story, and incorporate it with the best of modern wine making and modern technology,” said Paul Frey Jr.
Frey’s organic wine grapes are grown on about 100 acres throughout the Mendocino County area, an ideal winegrowing region with its cool nights and warm days. It’s also a hotbed for organic wine makers.
Mendocino County has 15 certified organic wineries, more than anywhere else in the U.S., including Barra of Mendocino, Paul Dolan Vineyards, and Handley Cellars and is known for growing diverse grape varieties including Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Frey’s have also been the leaders in taking their wine “beyond” organic. They were the first winery in the United States to produce Biodynamic wines. Biodynamic farms strive to be self-sustaining within the surrounding ecosystem and they view the vineyard as a living system.
The grapes grown for the Frey’s biodynamic wines are grown in accordance with the Biodynamic certification agency the Demeter Association, whose standards are stricter than organic standards and emphasize farm animals, soil, and compost preparations that enhance plant growth and fertility.
This commitment to alternatives even extends to non-agricultural aspects of their winery. They use biodiesel for the tractors out in the field and a solar powered electric forklift in the warehouse.
If you are a wine lover and want to learn more about organic and biodynamic wines and wineries, check out Organic Wine Journal.