There is a growing trend toward consuming ethical and natural products. "Natural Wines" are becoming very popular among health-focused and environmentally-conscious consumers as they are produced with minimum disruption in both the vineyard and winery. These practices have contributed to an overall reduction of wineries' carbon footprint and also a more healthy, natural product for consumers.
Different types of "Natural Wines"
Each of these four wine types is created using precise rules during the grape cultivation and winemaking process.
In recent years, Europe has seen a massive increase number of organic vineyards that are now in existence. Grape growers and winemakers are united in their fight against global warming, and by using environmentally friendly methods, they are doing their part to save the planet. A global increase in organic viticulture has occurred as consumers do their part to reduce their environmental impact.
Organic certification can only be given by a legal body regulated by the country's agricultural department where the vineyard is located. The certification assures consumers that the grapes are organically grown without using chemicals.
The certification process is lengthy, expensive, and requires a high level of commitment from the organization that wants to achieve organic status. A winery must comply with a rigorous set of rules to become certified, which varies from country to country. To receive and maintain organic status, a member of the country licensing authority monitors the farm or vineyards by conducting ongoing pre-arranged or surprise visits to ensure that all regulations are being followed. A wine is certified as organic if made from organic grapes, and no preservatives are used during the winemaking process. The use of indigenous yeasts is permitted.
There are different rules about organic wine worldwide, so read the label carefully before choosing your wine.
United States - Wine made from organically grown grapes with no added sulfites.
Europe and Canada - Wine made from organically grown grapes and may contain sulfites.
Many winemakers choose to grow their grapes using organic methods as they believe that the naturally grown fruit makes excellent wine. Instead of becoming organically certified, winemakers use biodynamic practices - essentially a homeopathic treatment of the land and grapes that grow from it.
The interaction shared by the earth and moon is believed to create a remarkable harmony in nature. The winemaker learns to respect this harmony when working in the vineyards and producing the wine. There is great emphasis on using unique soil treatments; the lunar cycle is followed very closely when new vines are planted. Biodynamic winemakers often choose not to add sulfites to their wines even though no legal restriction exists.
Producing biodynamic wines is far more complicated than organic and traditional wines. A long list of detailed rules must be adhered to. To be certified "Biodynamic," wine must comply with the internationally recognized Demeter Association's regulations.
Sustainably Produced Wines
A combination of traditional, organic, and biodynamic methods are used during the grape growing and winemaking process. The main emphasis of sustainable wines is minimizing the impact of viticultural practices on the environment. Farmers engage in water conservation, use of renewable energy (such as solar power), reducing waste, and minimal packaging. Many wineries purchase carbon credits to reduce their carbon footprint or be categorized as carbon neutral.
No official specifications need to be followed for Natural Wines, which are produced from chemical-free grapes that are organically, biodynamically, or sustainably grown. Minimum grape treatment is used during the vinification stage, and the yeasts naturally present in the grapes are used for fermentation. Natural Wines should be stored between 57-65°F (14-18°C), so the wine will develop correctly during the bottle aging.
We think Natural Wines will continue to grow in popularity in the coming years, making the choice of Organic, Biodynamic, Sustainable, and Natural Wines more easily accessible in most price ranges. The process to become organic, biodynamic, sustainable, or natural is not as easy as traditional winemaking but consumers are starting to demand it. With proper research and, hopefully, some help from this article, you can more easily choose your favorite natural wine.