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....