Organic Wine Comes of Age
Although European winemakers have been growing organic grapes to create outstanding organic wines for decades, in the U.S. organic winemaking is relatively new. Early organic wines left much to be desired, but as techniques and taste improve, there's no arguing that it's time to take a fresh look at organic wines.
With a growing magnitude of experience, organic vineyards are offering better wines than ever. Discover brands like the highly praised Coturri, Frog's Leap, Frey Vineyards, La Rocca Vineyards, Bonterra Vineyards, Cooper Mountain Vineyards, or Brick House Vineyards. Don't live in wine country? Try online retailers and organic wine clubs that choose the finest organic wines from around the world and deliver them to your door. Chartrand Imports in Maine offers organic wines from the U.S. and abroad, as does Organic Vintners in Boulder, Colorado. Retailers like Organic Wine Company in San Francisco, have knowledgeable staff available on site or by phone to make recommendations based on your personal preferences. If you're a wine connoisseur, consider joining an organic wine club, a service offered by many online wine retailers, including the Organic Wine Press in Oregon, and Eco Vine Wine Club in Santa Barbara. Organic wine aficionados may also enjoy the latest news in Organic Wine Journal, an online publication zealously devoted to the business and pleasure of organic wines.
The biggest difference between organic and non-organic wines relates to sulfites. Most wines contain sulfites, but USDA-certified organic wines in the U.S. are made without sulfites, good news for those who suffer allergic reactions to sulfites. Those wines which are not certified organic, but made with organically grown grapes may contain sulfites, but usually in quantities lower than conventional wine. The new generation of organic wines offer a taste on par with conventional wines, and many find it difficult to tell the difference between organic and non-organic wines. Overall, organic wines tend to reflect the flavor of their pure beginning, unpolluted soil, clean air, and ripe grapes.
Organic wine seekers should look for 'certified organic' or 'made with organic grapes' on the wine label. Although the USDA set guidelines for the labeling of organic wines four years ago, some wineries, such as Coturri and Frog's Leap, offer organic wines without the organic label. Not wanting to be limited by categorization, these exemplary wineries show that organic wines can hold their own in the marketplace. Consumers are responding favorably to newly available organic wines. According to Holly Givens of the Organic Trade Association, the market for organic wine is growing steadily. In 2005, organic wine sales totaled $80 million, an increase of 28 percent over 2004. Drink to that, as the expansion of organic vineyards means more acres of organically-farmed land, less pesticides, and a cleaner environment.