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Winemaking That Goes Beyond Organic

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.

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Judi Gerber

Judi Gerber is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.

16 comments

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9:03AM PST on Feb 25, 2013

thanks

12:15PM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

Trader Joe's just starting selling a $4 .00 bottle of wine made with organic grapes. Green Fin...cabernet .Called Green Fin .
So far , no hangover from a couple of glasses like other wines.

12:09PM PST on Dec 14, 2010

Rob and Jay: Not everyone gets DRUNK. A glass of wine with dinner is the same as a soda. Those kill you also. And red wine is good for you, one glass. You have taken this article a bit out of context.
I love having a glass of good wine now and then, that doesn't make me a crazed alcoholic! And I drink it at home, so I'm not on the road. You need to take your rant somewhere else, where there's actually a problem. Your info would be more beneficial for Facebook or Myspace or something, not Care2.
Thanks for the article! I'm doing anything I can to buy organic, sustainable everything. Can't wait to try these wines (:

9:28PM PDT on Jul 28, 2010

a friend of ours mother used to make a beautiful rose petal wine...she won awards...wine making can be a fun hobby..mead is relatively easy , another friend made several varities , including a light,dry,sparkling mead.

7:49PM PDT on Jul 25, 2010

What do they use for a clarifying agent. Most wines use geletin. Also, is there organic sherry?

9:16AM PDT on Mar 25, 2010

I wish more Wineries wold switch to organic winemaking,TY for a great story.

9:28AM PST on Mar 9, 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ31Ljd9T_Y

unbelievable....

8:26PM PST on Jan 30, 2010

I don't drink any alcohol.

5:47AM PDT on Oct 7, 2009

Organic sounds good without all the sulfites that tend to give me a terrible headache.

5:05AM PDT on Oct 7, 2009

PH, I assume you are referring to Frey Wines, and I agree with you -- I am a red wine drinker, and buy organic whenever possible - but I don't like the odd taste of Frey reds either. If you have a Whole Foods Market nearby, try a bottle of Girasole Organic Pinot Noir (Girasole is a subsidiary of Barra of Mendocino Organic Winery). It's an excellent, soft, full-bodied wine, and also vegan! Look for the sunflower on the label.

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