Wines of the Times: Learn about Eco-Wineries and Organic Wine

The bottle you uncork to accompany that organic meal should be chemical- and sulfite-free.


| May/June 2003


The linens are laid, the candles lit. Organic greens and hormone-free, free-range chicken tempt taste buds as glasses clink to toast your meal. But is the wine in those glasses organic?

Many people today understand the importance of organic produce and drug-free meats, but when it comes to wine, education lags. Some are confused by classifications: What’s the difference between wines made with organically grown grapes and organic wines? “Nobody talks about organic wines because nobody understands them,” says Stephanie Cooper, sales and marketing manager for Organic Vintners, an importer in Boulder, Colorado.

Slowly, that’s changing.

The organic wine movement began more than twenty years ago in the United States, but only in the past ten years have vintners begun to reap the rewards of growing grapes without chemicals. Organic wines were once associated with murky liquids, quirky flavors, and short shelf lives. But time, education, and technology have brought organic wines up to snuff. “The difference between seven years ago and today is phenomenal,” says Bob Blue, wine maker and general manager of Bonterra Vineyards, a division of Fetzer Vineyards in California that operates 2,000 acres of certified organic land.

“It seems to go hand in hand with [organic] food. There’s much more acceptance.”

And higher quality as well, says Helge Hellberg, marketing and communications director of California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), which certifies about 80 percent of the state’s organic vintners. “Organic wine twenty years ago had a pretty bad reputation, but the wine has become much, much better. Now it has clearly passed nonorganic wines... winning blue ribbons and gold medals.”





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