On the ninth day of Christmas my green friend gave to me…9 organic wines, 8 backyard hens, 7 Chakra gems, 6 craft beers, 5 solar panels, 4 sea turtles, 3 rain barrels, 2 milkweed plants and a live Christmas tree!
On this ninth day of Christmas I learned quite a bit while researching organic wines. I thought labeling of organic wines was controlled better than food labeling which is only somewhat true. After reading the Organic Consumers Association’s (OCA) article on organic wines I learned the USDA and the Organic Foods Act (which includes fermented foods, i.e. wines) was established in 1990. The regulation also fell under the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the ATF would not allow “finished” products (bottled wine) to be labeled organic. After two California vineyards, Hallcrest Vineyards and Organic Wine Works challenged the guidelines a new USDA program was born, the National Organic Program (NOP) which is enforced by the ATF.
Only a few wineries have become certified organic wine processors, for various reasons, while the rest produce “sustainable” or “biodynamic” wines. Although there are no set standards, wineries that take the ecology of the vineyard into account and try to minimize chemical treatments and energy use, are called “sustainable”. “Biodynamic” winemaking follows the teachings of Austrian anthroposophist Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925), and incorporates homeopathic treatments, as well as astronomical and astrological considerations, into the organic process.
The Organic Wine Journal offers a list of certified organic wineries in the US and other countries. There are 4 categories that wineries can label their products: 100% Organic, Organic, Made With Organic Ingredients, and Some Organic Ingredients. I didn’t know this and chances are you probably didn’t either. I think the most important thing to remember when buying a “100% organic” wine is knowing that a USDA “Certified Organic” label not only ensures the grapes are grown organically (no GMOs, toxic pesticides or fertilizers), but there are no added sulfites. Naturally occurring sulfites might be in the wine but the amount cannot exceed 20 parts per million.
The “Sustainable” marketing claim lets you know the grapes used were grown organically but they have not chosen to receive USDA approval and cannot claim their wines to be organic. These wines may or may not contain added sulfites. Apparently there is quite a bit of confusion about sulfites and OCA does a good job in the article explaining the sulfite confusion. Another good article I found was on the Organic Vintners website. I learned the pesticides on grapes are not easily rinsed off so unless you buy organic wines which means you will probably be adding toxic pesticides into your body. For Vegans it is also important to know that animal by-products are used to clarify and filter wines so be sure to buy Vegan wines if you are Vegan.
My green friend certainly knew how to select some wines for me on this ninth day of a green Christmas. Armed with this newfound knowledge, the next time I head to the store for my organic wines I will be reading those labels with a sharper eye and not looking at how the store may label or group their wines!
If you are reading this post as the first you might be wondering what the heck I am doing talking about the twelve days of Christmas after Christmas. Follow this link and I’ll explain the reason for my posts.