Lifestyle guru Danny Seo puts organic wine


Danny Seo calls himself an expert in environmental lifestyle. He has written books, appeared on TV talk shows, and writes a national column.

Seo has championed environmental issues for years. Now he takes what he knows about organic and ecological life and applies it to wine. About two years ago, Seo launched Philosophy Wines in hopes of showing Americans “they can drink sustainably without sacrificing quality.”

We asked Seo 14 questions. Here are his unpublished answers.

1. What does “organic” mean in the vineyard? What practices do you use to grow organic fruit?

Organic wines are made from grapes from farms and vineyards that have refrained from using herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers or genetically modified seeds for at least three years. Organic wines aim to create healthier, more nutrient-rich soils that contain a diverse mix of natural microorganisms – these soils promote more robust vines that are naturally better able to resist disease and produce better fruit. . Since organically grown grapes come from healthier soils, I find wines tend to be brighter and have purer fruit expression – in other words, not only are they better for earth, but also tastier!

2. What does “organic” mean in the cellar? Are there any unique practices or processes that are different from those used in non-organic wineries? Can you elaborate?

Organic in the cellar means adopting the most natural approach possible when transforming grapes into wine – we are looking for partners who adopt a “minimalist intervention” approach and who do not manipulate the wines too much (even with approved biological materials). It is an attitude, in addition to a difference in process. Perhaps the biggest difference is the use of sulfur in the cellar; Philosophy The wines are “made with organically grown grapes”, which means that we can add a small amount of sulfur to the finished wine, but still much less than a non-organic wine (a wine labeled “certified organic In CA can add no sulfur in the finished product).

In addition to organic farming practices, many winegrowers also make sure to implement a series of green initiatives in the cellar. It’s not often on the label, so it takes research to find out what kinds of sustainable practices are in place, but they have a huge influence on the overall environmental impact of running a winery. For example, our partner vineyard in Northern California is carbon neutral, they recycle / reclaim 100% of the water they use, use solar energy, and use lighter household glass bottles where possible.

3. Why should the consumer care?

If you care about what’s in your food, why don’t you care about what’s in your wine? In addition to being better for the environment in general, I tend to think that with organic wines, we get a more authentic, less processed product. Many commercially produced wines are excessively manipulated so that they taste exactly the same year after year – to me that takes away the experience of drinking wine. A wine made from a cool, tough vintage must taste different from a hot year, and the fact that much of a wine’s fate is in nature’s hands is what often makes it special.

4. Additives: Sulphites, thinners – how are you different from a so-called typical cellar?

Conventionally made wines have no regulations when it comes to pesticide controls, sprays, practices and fining agents – they can spray what they want, when they want. A bottle of conventionally produced wine can contain up to 250 different types of chemicals.

All wines naturally contain sulphites and, like all organic wines, Philosophy contains significantly less added sulphites than other non-organic wines. For people who have an allergic reaction to sulfites, which can cause headaches, organic wine is a much better option.

5. Do organic practices limit what you can do with grapes? Does this limit or improve the overall quality of the wine?

I think organic practices allow the grapes and the terroir to really shine. Our partner in California has been growing organically for many years, which helps; the soils are excellent and the vines healthier.

6. Is the shelf life impacted by the organic name? Can the wines be cellared?

There is a very small amount of sulfur added to wines, just to make them shelf stable, so that’s not a problem – wines will age as well as a Sauvignon Blanc or Zinfandel of similar quality from a non-organic producer. Wines, by design, are not meant to be cellared – one of the reasons we chose screw caps was to let people know that Philosophy wines are meant to be opened and enjoyed!

7. What types of closures do you use (cork, screw cap, etc.)?

For Philosophy Wines, we chose screw caps for several reasons:

  • Screw caps are recyclable – and we hope the Philosophy label will gently remind people to recycle their used bottles.
  • Cork oaks are endangered and take a long time to grow. In addition, the energy used to harvest and create corks can outweigh the renewable aspects.
  • Part of my “philosophy” behind these wines is to make organic wine for everyday use. Many buyers feel more comfortable buying screw caps because they know they have the option of storing leftover wine more easily. This also makes it perfect for transporting for picnics and barbecues – without the need to bring a corkscrew.

8. Are visitors welcome and, if so, exposed to these organic practices?

At the moment, there are no visitors.

9. Red against white? Does one present more challenges in the biological process than the other?

Not that I know of! (But once again, I’m not the winemaker…)

10. Off season: What do you do with the vines? Fertilizer? Pests?

We work with wineries that use a variety of natural (non-synthetic) and highly effective organic treatments and strategies. Spraying is generally avoided as far as possible in favor of other techniques of vine management.

11. Growth projects for philosophy? What future for your cellar / label? What are the overarching goals?

We are currently in discussions with some wine producers in Europe to expand the Philosophy Wine collection, which I am very excited about – by the end of this year we hope to introduce two new varietals and provide even more choices for consumers looking for options. reliable and affordable organic products.

One of my main philosophies is that if everyone can do one positive thing every day, collectively we can all make a huge difference to the environment. Living sustainably doesn’t have to be a burden. As organic wine grows in popularity, more and more farmers will follow suit and implement organic and sustainable wine-growing practices, which is a good thing for everyone.

12. How did philosophy come about? What was the impetus for starting a cellar (or a label)? When?

I have been interested in wine for many years. I have been fortunate to travel extensively in the United States and overseas, including some amazing wine countries. I also interact with many chefs and restaurateurs as part of my professional career and am constantly surrounded by good wines. Over the years, I have continued to be more and more interested in wine, especially organic wines. Sharing my sustainable lifestyle with others is what I do and since I have been drinking and researching organic wines since I was 20, it was a natural progression. I am known for marrying style and sustainability in all aspects of life, and although I am not a winemaker, I have found that organic wines are some of the best wines. I want to get this message across, which is why the Philosophy Wine Program is a collaborative effort to bring great organic wines to market at an affordable price.

Almost two years ago I had the opportunity to connect with my wine partner Mike Votto from Votto Vines through mutual business contacts. Votto Vines is a growing wine importing and marketing company located in Connecticut, and has developed wine programs with CBS and other leading organizations. I work with them to find wines from the best certified organic wineries, first in the United States and eventually overseas, that produce wines of great quality and character that I can support and be truly proud to represent. .

13. Is Philosophy a full-fledged winery or do you use other winemakers and / or facilities?

In a nutshell, the Philosophy line is an organized collection of organic wines from top vineyards and winemakers that demonstrate the highest quality of grapes, sustainable cultivation methods, etc. We launched the Philosophy wine brand with a Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel from a Northern California winery and will introduce more varietals from wineries across Europe.

14. Distribution? Now? Future plans?

Currently, Philosophy is available in NY, NJ and CT, as well as online at, and will continue to roll out nationwide.

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