WINE WISDOM: Is it finally time for organic wine? – Wicked Local Hamilton

Posted: August 23, 2017 at 7:44 am

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By Mark P. Vincent, Daily News Correspondent

In evaluating my topic options for this months column, I considered one Ive intended to cover for a long time: organic wine. Frankly, Ive been remiss in not covering them prior to now. That said, lets proceed.

Organic wine is vino produced by viticulturists and winemakers who eschew the use of artificial and synthetic chemicals, such as fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides in their vineyards. They are also highly selective about what they add to wine during the fermentation and winemaking process, using only a limited number of natural substances.

Theres growing evidence that many, if not all, synthetic chemicals are hazardous to the welfare and longevity of human beings and have become dangerously pervasive in our food chain and environment, as well as in our bodies.

This issue is making organic food the fastest growing market category currently. Reflecting this trend, the number of organic vineyards globally almost tripled from 2004 to 2011, according to ProWein magazine. While the trend is growing globally, roughly 89 percent of organic vineyards currently are in Europe, and Austria can boast almost 10 percent of its vineyards are organic.

My sympathy has always been with farmers and vineyard owners who risk significant financial loss due to the destruction of their crops by pests, viruses, bacteria and molds. Its a rare business that can afford to take the position, We just wont produce any income this year without being deeply concerned for their survival.

Consequently, man has long sought to control nature and increase the yield and quality of crops, while limiting the downside of loss. Widespread use of chemicals helped farmers protect their crops and boost yields. However, in doing so, farmers, including grape growers, became more dependent on chemical agriculture rather than on healthy soil. Simultaneously, they increased their exposure, and their customers', to potentially unhealthy chemicals, and conventionally grown grapes leave trace chemical residues in wines.

There is growing awareness of the hazards of many chemicals and the evidence is building that the chickens are now coming home to roost in our declining health and high costs of health care.

Why organic wine? To begin with, there are many who believe organic and biodynamic wines simply taste better. Advocates claim the wines are purer, cleaner, more complex and more delicious. I agree, but Ill leave that up to individual wine consumers to decide for themselves.

The other major reason for drinking organic wine is health related. Its no secret that many of the illnesses that plague mankind are increasingly being linked to our exposure to chemicals. Limiting ones exposure to potentially harmful chemicals just makes good sense, doesnt it? If that is true of food, why not of wine, too?

Now, mind you, we need to understand that grape growers who adopt organic practices do so more often out of self interest rather than looking out for their customers' safety. If we are getting exposed to chemical residues in their wine, isnt their exposure and their workers' exposure in applying these chemicals magnitudes higher than a wine consumers? Nevertheless, in protecting themselves and their employees by adopting organic standards and principles, they inevitably end up protecting consumers too.

As noted above, more growers and vintners are adopting organic and biodynamic practices in their businesses. It's important to also recognize that some wineries, while not advertising or claiming to be organic, always adopted organic principles and committed to producing natural wines as a matter of general operating procedures. They just dont brag that theyve always used a common-sense approach to agriculture.

What recently brought these issues to my attention? I purchased a bottle of Alexander Valley Vineyards Organic Cabernet Sauvignon ($32), made from grapes grown in an organic vineyard created in 2008. Ive always loved their wines and recommend their traditional cab as a terrific, value wine. The new organic offering, while a little pricier, completely blew me away. Its awesome.

Fetzer Vineyards and Bonterra Vineyards in the U.S. have long practiced sustainable, organic farming and I commend both of them for their longstanding commitment and foresight. Whenever Ive had the opportunity to consume their wines, I thoroughly enjoyed them.

My goal is to think and drink organic in the future. Why not join me? Enjoy.

Mark P. Vincent is a Worcester resident who has a passion for wine. Contact him at

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WINE WISDOM: Is it finally time for organic wine? - Wicked Local Hamilton

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August 23rd, 2017 at 7:44 am

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