Mike's Blog


Organic Wine... I Thought All Wine Was "Organic"

I was sitting around recently drinking a Maverick Merlot from The Organic Wine Works...and I got to thinking...what exactly is an organic wine. I mean seriously...all grapes are from the earth...shouldn't that be reason enough to consider it organic? Ummm...no.

Certified Organic vs. Certified Organic Grapes

So I did a bit of research and it turns out that in order to get the elusive USDA organic seal-a wine cannot have even a trace of sulfites. Well the problem is- those sulfites are added to increase shelf life. Without the sulfites- the shelf life is too short. So what a vintner to do? The USDA allows winemakers to use the term "Made with Certified Organic Grapes". Thus the winery and its farming practices still have to be certified organic and the wine needs to have less than 100ppm of sulfites...less than the normal 350ppm.

So why is organic important?

So why should it matter if a wine is made with organically grown grapes vs. the traditional conventionally grown grapes? The basic premise of organically grown grapes is that wine made from grapes that are pesticide free and chemical fertilizer free are better for the environment and better for the drinker.

Conventionally grown grapes are grown using farming practices that rely heavily on chemicals. Those chemicals harm the land, the workers, the air and eventually us. All the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers throw off the natural balance of the land. This starts a never-ending cycle in which the land is stripped of its natural minerals and this must be replaced by more chemicals.

Organic farming is less reliant on chemicals...instead using natural alternatives to achieve a balance within the soil. Instead of chemicals- farmers rely on algae and manure. Instead of pesticides farmers rely on the mixing of plant types within the grape fields to introduce beneficial bugs to eliminate the "bad bugs". Instead of herbicides- weeds are allowed to grow and mowed periodically. It's alot more work...and the fruit yields are lower. But the practice is MUCH, MUCH better for the land.

But does it taste good?

So far so good. I've only tried a few...Maverick Merlot, Frey Vineyards Merlot, Stellar Organics Merlot....OK OK...so I'm a Merlot fan. But the ones I've tried are definitely on par with the better California wines I've tried. If the taste is the same and the price is comparable...why wouldn't we buy them. Bottoms up....


Mike Hogan

Associate Broker

RE/MAX Commonwealth





Comment balloon 3 commentsMike Hogan • July 17 2009 10:04PM


Hello Mike, thanks for the info on this, both the Organic aspect to viticulture, and the introduction to Virginia wines.  We've had more and more vineyards and wineries get going in our area, and I hope there will also be more of them adopting organic practices.  Enjoy!  John  bwt - do they have any good Pinot? :)

Posted by Alexander- Slocum, Realty Team- Vancouver WA Real Estate (Premiere Property Group, LLC - Vancouver Washington) about 10 years ago

Funny that you originally thought that anything "from the Earth" would automatically be organic. It took me awhile to understand why sheets were being advertised as being made from "Organic Cotton". I thought ... who cares? You aren't going to EAT them?! ... Anyway ... it's keeping pesticides out of the environment entirely that is the point.

Great informative post!

Posted by Pangaea Interior Design Kitchen & Bath Design, Remodeling (Portland Oregon) about 10 years ago

Interesting post Mike.  Didn't know about the difference in terminology. I believe they allow the 100ppm because sulfites occur naturally in grapes.

Posted by David Helm, Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp (Helm Home Inspections) almost 10 years ago