What Is Organic Wine?

What is organic wine? Basically the grapes are grown with no pesticides, no herbicides, and the only organic fertilizers (cow manure or other natural products). Organic wine consists of grapes that are grown...

Organic wine consists of grapes that are grown with no pesticides, no herbicides and only organic fertilizers. They are free of synthetic chemicals, and essential natural preservatives like sulfur dioxide are kept at a minimum. Another great characteristic of organic wine is that it is produced with modern and traditional techniques with the fewest detrimental effects on the environment, says Brian Hays, a chef and culinary instructor at Austin Community College. He has taught at the college for nine years.

The process of growing grapes organically involves trimming the vines and leaves and composting it to put back in the fields. It is an all-natural process without any artificial pesticides or herbicides. What many consumers don't know about grape growing is that it is one of the most heavily sprayed crops. When pesticides are sprayed on the grape skins to protect them from disease, the pesticides end up as residue in the wine, according to ecowine.com, a website that specializes in organic wine. "In addition to contact pesticides, there are also systemic pesticides which penetrate the plant and end up in the grape pulp and inevitably as residue in the wine," says the website. "A great number of chemicals are of great concern because they are suspected carcinogens."

What organic farmers are doing that separates them from other vineyards is focusing on soil. They feel that maintaining healthy, biologically active soil is the main objective. This means the farmer has to cultivate the soil and plant cover crops, instead of applying herbicides. Organic farmers also use natural fertilizers, such as composted animal manure, instead of chemical fertilizers. Pesticides are not used either to get rid of predators; instead they encourage them. Another interesting thing organic farmers allow in their crops is other types of plants besides vines to promote biodiversity. They feel it helps regulate the vineyard soil by attracting insects that benefit the plants. By doing this, it replaces the need for chemical pesticides or insecticides. Weeds are also a problem for grape growers, but the organic farmer allows the weeds to grow. Organic farmers allow the weeds to rot because this provides organic fertilizer.

Organic farmers relish in the fact that their way of growing protects the environment. This also provides great conditions for farmers to work in instead of exposing them to the effects of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. "Organic is more than simply a way of farming, it is also a philosophy," the website states.

After farming, the organic way of making wine means minimal processing and no use of chemical additives. The use of cultured yeasts in organic wine is somewhat limited to the farming itself because yeast is present when unharmed by weed killers or insecticides. Also, the filtering and fining of the wine is kept to a minimum. All of these practices in organic farming are time consuming but the price of a wine is still kept at a mimiumum and is not overtly expensive.

As for the taste, many people feel that it is the same. As Hays states, you can't tell the difference in taste with organic wines. "Organic wines are usually made exceptionally well with lots of care, but I've never been able to tell a taste difference."

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