What Is Organic Wine and Who Are Oregon’s Top Producers
The growing concern of wine drinkers for the environment and climate impacts often leads to the question “what is organic wine?” “. Biodynamic, natural and organic methods are increasingly used in Oregon to improve the quality and sustainability of soils. Organic wines are classified as organic when they are produced from sustainably grown grapes from an organic vineyard. Below, we break down some basic elements of these types of viticulture.
Organic vs. Biodynamic wine – what’s the difference?
Organic winemaking has been practiced for decades and biodynamic winemaking dates back almost a century. Organic and biodynamic wines have often been compared as they both use growing practices that prohibit pesticides and rely heavily on the use of compost. Biodynamic wines, however, may contain added antioxidants and antibacterial agents, while certified organic wines will not contain added sulphites. Both generally contain natural sulfites.
How do I know if the wine is organic vs. Organically grown?
If you are not sure that your the wine is organic, look at the outside of the bottle. Here you will find two indicators. The bottle may mention that the grapes come from sustainable agriculture and will bear the seal of the certifying body. Wines can be grown organically or naturally and not display a certificate on the bottle. Some wine producers may choose to forgo the lengthy and costly certification process. However, it presents an opportunity for the consumer to learn about cultivation practices and to learn more.
Are organic wines better for the environment?
One of the most underrated reasons for drinking organic wine is its eco-friendly effects. As mentioned above, organic wine comes from grapes that are sustainably grown and grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. The production of organic wine is carried out without genetically modified yeasts or animal products in its process. On the other hand, non-organic viticulture uses pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, which leads to soil pollution.
“I believe that the winemaker’s responsibility is to take this fruit and bottle it as the most natural and purest expression of this vineyard, of the grape variety or of the blend and of the vintage.” – Robert M. Parker, Jr.
What are the benefits of organic wine?
Organic wine is grown without synthetic additives
Organic wine is free from synthetic additives which are often used to enhance flavor and aroma. During the growing season, the grapes are grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Instead, producers could use natural fertilizers like livestock manure and other natural products that enrich the soil. The process involves the use of holistic techniques to improve soil quality and promote fruit formation. Soil health also plays an important role in growing as it helps balance plant nutrients necessary for steady growth.
Organic wine is GMO-free
Genetically modified organisms, or more precisely genetically modified yeasts, are common in conventional wines. Wine can give a smoother taste and is a more natural wine experience. GMOs are also not allowed in biodynamic winemaking.
There are no added sulfites and only native yeasts
Sulphites are preservatives used in wine production and can cause health problems, such as allergic reactions or asthma. Conversely, the absence of pesticides protects the grape and the environment from degradation. Organic wine also contains indigenous yeasts which aid fermentation.
Organic wine must pass a certification program every year
To be certified organic, vineyards and wineries will undergo an annual inspection to receive the USDA Certified Organic designation. Inspections ensure that organic wine producers comply with USDA regulations, which are essential for their certification.
Organic wine uses sustainable organic farming and production methods
Organic wine is produced using sustainable methods that help improve the soil environment and the quality of the grapes. By using natural manure as fertilizer for sustainably grown grapes, the richness of the soil is improved. This, in turn, benefits the grapes and improves their overall quality to produce a flavorful wine. Avoiding pesticides and synthetic fertilizers also helps reduce water pollution and prevents chemicals from entering living systems.
A growing number of Oregon wineries specialize in biodynamic, organic, and natural winemaking. Check out the list below to find out where protecting the environment produces top quality wines.
Brothers in law
Brick House Winery
Cooper mountain vineyards
Lancellotti family vineyards
Dominio IV wines
Dry wines from the farm
Keeler Estate Vineyard
Domaine de Montinore
Winderlea vineyard and winery
More stories about Oregon wines and spirits:
Piquette is the new sustainable ‘wine’ from 5 Oregon wineries
These Willamette Valley wineries will enhance your outdoor tasting experience
The 5 best organic wines from Willamette Valley
Grizzly Peak Winery, from plantation to reward