Organic wine has increased in popularity and rightfully so! Organic wine is made from grapes that have been farmed organically, meaning no artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides were used in the vineyard.
And on top of that, no artificial additives are allowed in the winery. Sulphite additions might be allowed, like in Canada or Europe, but only in very small quantities. It’s worth mentioning that sulphites do occur naturally in all wines as a by-product of fermentation, and they are commonly added to wines to keep them tasting fresher for longer.
In an article by The Wine Folly they recommend naturally produced organic wines when you have a sensitivity to sulphites in foods such as soup or french fries. While there is a very small percentage of people who can have a negative reaction to sulphites, it’s really much rarer than you might think.
How Organic Farming creates Unique Wines
Organic farmers are allowed to use some natural fertilizers and fungicides, like manure or copper sprays, that help increase biodiversity and encourage healthy soil in the vineyard. When soils are healthy and full of life, grape vines have better access to nutrients that help them grow high quality grapes without the help of harsh and damaging chemicals.
Organic farming leads to tastier grapes, but not without challenges. Because farmers can’t rely on chemicals to quickly deal with bugs or diseases, they have to spend more time pruning and training vines to combat issues like too much humidity or sun.
Other practices, like weeding, has to be done by hand. Cover crops, like grass or clover planted between rows of vines, need to be tended to keep soils healthy. Organic farmers might also use animals to help in the vineyard, bringing in chickens to eat bugs or goats to help keep the cover crops trim.
Organic farming is more difficult, more time consuming, and more expensive than conventional farming. This cost is usually reflected in the wines, especially in regions like BC or California where land and labour costs are already very high compared to many other winemaking countries.
But the extra time, care, and expense required in the vineyard and the winery is absolutely worth it! Organic wines need to be top notch quality since they can’t rely on the preservative action of sulphites in the same way that conventional wines do.
High-quality grapes make wines that have more complexity, more nuance, and a better expression of terroir. Organic wines often have more vitality and life compared to many conventional wines.
What about Sustainable or Biodynamic Wines?
Not all ethically made wines are certified organic! Making the official transition to organic farming is a really long and expensive process that it’s always the best choice, especially for smaller producers.
Some wineries will choose to farm with organic and sustainable practices without going for official certification. These wines might be labeled as sustainable instead of organic and could be using practices beyond what is required for organic certification like reducing water usage, installing solar panels, using recycled or eco-friendly packaging, and better supporting vineyards workers. Biodynamic wine takes organic farming one step further.
Vineyards are seen as one organism and are treated in a way that encourages a self-sustaining system. This includes organic farming practices, using the lunar cycle to guide actions in the vineyard, and using natural treatments made from manure, chamomile, or yarrow to strengthen grapevines and keep them healthy.
How do you find Organic, Sustainable, or Biodynamic Wines?
Organic farming is growing all around the world as more and more producers are seeing the effects of climate change in their vineyards. So whether you like local wines, European wines, or wines from anywhere else in the world, it’s easier every day to find something organic, sustainable, or biodynamic. Wine regions around the world will all have their own certification for organic and sustainable wines.
Logos may look a little different from bottle to bottle, but you can rest assured that if you see organic or sustainable on a label that you’re choosing an ethically made wine. Biodynamic wines will carry the Demeter certification. And just to make things a little easier, our new and improved online store has advanced filtering that makes searching for organic wines an absolute breeze.
Here are some of our favourite organic wines:
Delinquente Bullet Dodger Montepulciano
This low intervention and organic wine is super juicy, light, and easy drinking. Soft tannins and ripe red cherry flavours mingle with licorice, violet, and plum.
A crisp and fresh wine bursting with mango and melon aromatics. Bright and fresh with lively acidity and twist of minerality.
Mission Hill Reserve Rose
While this wine isn’t certified organic quite yet, Mission Hill wines have been in the process of transitioning for a couple of years and will be officially organic soon! This tasty rose is light bodied with flavours of watermelon, sweet sage, and fresh red berries.
This medium bodied Malbec has intense flavours of plum, blackberry, and chocolate with soft tannins. It’s a great match for burgers or vegetarian chili.