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What’s the Scoop on Organic Wines?

Michael Bray of Passion Vines

Wines labeled as “made from organically grown grapes” consist of grapes that are harvested using sustainable agricultural practices. Simply put, these are grapes are grown without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides or chemicals in the vineyards.

Wines labeled as “organic” consist of grapes that are harvested without the use of chemicals, stabilizers, etc. in the winery itself as well as in the vineyard. This includes the winery’s fermentation tanks, ageing barrels and even the bottles themselves.

Sulfur dioxide is a natural element that is a by-product of fermentation and is also present in soil. All wines have some degree of naturally occurring sulfites. Wines that are organic or biodynamic do not have additional sulfites used as a preservative.

Unfortunately, our labeling laws require just the words “contains sulfites” on the label and do not differentiate between the naturally occurring and the additional.

The overwhelming majority of “organic” wines have no indication of such on the label. In some countries the certification process can be expensive, ridiculously strict or even incongruous to making quality wine. In turn, incredibly passionate producers that practice the most intense organic and sustainable methods do not get certified. Yet the wines they produce may be more pure, natural and tasty than some winemakers that promote their “organic” qualities.

At Passion Vines, we are proud to promote wines that are produced organically. We have developed relationships with many of these organic producers and can attest to the purity of their practices.

Another indication of purity comes from the back label of the wine, where the importer is noted. Passion Vines represents importers that deal exclusively with natural & traditional producers, which invariably means organic. Some of these importers are Fleet Street (the famous Shipped at 56 degrees label), Vinifera Imports, Vias Imports and Marc di Grazie (all Italian importers), Jorge Ordonez (Spain), Louis Dressner (France), Jenny & Francois (France), Polaner Imports (France, Italy, California) and others. Other individual producers that may not fall under these importers’ umbrellas are also organic. For instance, Alexander Valley Vineyards from Sonoma has a Certificate of Sustainability, Benziger is certified Biodynmaic and Alma Rose is organic. The list goes on! A Passion Vines team member will be happy to introduce you to a wine that is organic in almost any style, color, price range or region.


Michael Bray, Founder