Let organic wine go to your head

A California red wine with label indicating th...

Click here for a Good Dirt Radio 5-minute eco-spot on organic wine.

Did you know that most wines are grown with petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides? These industrial chemicals poison the soil, water and ecosystems including birds, bees and fish. They often survive the wine making process and traces can be found in your drink and your body. Factory-made sulfites, a toxic preservative that also affects our biosphere, are then added to most wines to extend their shelf life. Tune in to hear why organically produced wines, produced with no sulfites, are better for us, and the biosphere.

Click here for resources and information on this topic.

Read the transcript below.

Welcome to Good Dirt Radio, reporting on positive solutions… taking root.

This is a story about wine, and, oh, how people lovetheir wine!   But many don’t like the petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that are used in winemaking. These chemicals, used on vineyards and in other agriculture, are known to harm soil, water and whole ecosystems including birds, bees and fish.  Chemical residue often remains in the wine after it gets bottled and consumed by the unsuspecting consumer. Factory made sulfites, a toxic preservative that also affects our bodies and the biosphere, are then added to most wines to extend their shelf life.

But consumers have a choice!  An increasing number of wineries grow and process grapes with organic practices, which benefitthe soil andare non-toxic.   One of many small USDA certified organic wineries is Granite Creek Vineyards in Chino Valley, AZ.  Back-to-the-landers from the 70’s and longtime proponents for clean, healthy living, Owners Kit and Robin Holt have been growing organic grapes for 36 years.  In summertime, they also operate a ‘farmers’ musicmarket’ on their wooded homestead.  Holt explains some nuts and bolts of organic wine and why its superior.

Holt:   To produce USDA certified organic wine, you must have made the wine from certified organic grapes in a very clean environment with no preservatives at all, in other words, no sulfites, which is the main preservative used in conventionally produced wine.  The organic standard is anything under 10 parts per million is considered naturally occurring.  Conventional wines add hundreds of parts per million, enough to trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people, all to make it easier for the wine producer to ship it!  There’s no benefit to you as a consumer to drink that sulfite.

Holt says consumers of organic wine and food can help the biosphere

Holt:  As a consumer, when you spend a dollar on anything, you’re voting for that product to be replaced.  The benefit of the alternative certified organic wines and foods is that there are no long-term persistent organic chemicals that accumulate in the biosphere.  Yes, it costs a little more, sometimes.  This is because it’s reflecting the true cost of the production, not the deflected cost of the ecological damage that you aren’t paying for with the conventional production.  

We also spoke with Eliza Frey, third generation winemaker at family owned, Frey Vineyards, in Mendocino, CA, the largest and oldest certified winery in the U.S.   She says their secret to growing robust, organic grapes is biodynamic farming techniques.

Frey:   Biodynamic farming is a system of agriculture that’s actually the oldest form of certified organic agriculture in the world.   Biodynamics requires the production and the use of special compost and also production of a wider range of crops into our farming system.  Most vineyards, because they’re perennial plants, are monocultures and monocultures, in and of themselves are not very healthy systems.  We’re experimenting with growing greens and beans in between the rows of the vines and then also providing nice perennials and vegetable gardens to introduce beneficial insects and to just keep a healthy, more well-rounded system overall.

Frey says folks can’t lose by buying organic products.

Frey:    The immediate reasons for buying, eating and drinking organic, for me and others I believe, are that because of the proven higher nutrient densities of organic foods, you have more flavor and you can notice that organic wines are really across the board are quite delicious.   But then, also, by choosing to purchase certified organic products, you are also contributing to a greater movement and empowering families or individuals who have chosen to make conscious choices in their business practices as well.

Holt:  If you choose to buy an organic product that has no preservatives, you’re making a better choice for you, your health, your family’s health, and the Earth will benefit tremendously.

Consumers can choose from a wide variety of certified organic wines and foods and every organic purchase helps reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, toxic pesticides and preservatives in our food chain, creating a healthier world.

Change happens… from the bottom up… when millions of people change their minds.  By learning about options, we can all make smarter choices and get involved in the shift toward renewable living.