The term “organic” is cropping up more and more when it comes to food and drink production in the 21st Century. It demands a cleaner and a non-chemically grown product. But how does this affect wine production and can there be such a thing as a wine company who can produce truly organic wine and stay in business?
As the organic movement grows, there is pressure from environmentalists and increasingly choosy customers to know exactly what goes into their food and drink before they purchase it. Organic wines have previously been accused of being dull, and most of the world’s “best” wines have long been produced in a far from organic way.
The place to start when talking about organic wine is to decide exactly what the term “organic” means to you.
Organic wine is made without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides or fungicides. It is also vacant of artificial preservatives or coloring’s, which may be added to non-organic varieties.
But why go organic? It is thought that many of our foodstuffs have been tainted with chemical build up through the use of non-natural pesticides or fertilizers on the plants they grow and that your body could be affected by consuming them. The build-up of these chemicals, it is claimed by environmentalists, have the potential to cause long-term health problems or could contribute to developing allergies. There is also the question of chemicals from treated crops going into the ground and ending up in drinking water, an issue that has already led to many changes in general crop production and water treatment.
Most commercial crops are grown with the use of fertilizers and other chemicals who kill things that can harm the crop. Continued use of these chemicals can weaken the soil and start to upset the Eco-system in the ground. They also lead to some pests developing a tolerance to them which encourages the further development and use of stronger chemicals and further builds up chemicals in the product itself.
The alternative to all this is to grow plants organically. Organic farming is a more time consuming method of production and needs time to replenish the natural Eco-system too. Setting up an organic farm means taking time to tackle weeds by hand,
encouraging natural predators of pests who frequent the vineyard, and where this does not work, finding other ways of tackling the many organisms that harm crops. Fertilizer will be compost or animal manure, and a system of planting flowers and herbs to create biological diversity has to be included in an organic vineyard.
Vineyards face an additional problem – mildew and black rot. These are diseases that can ruin a crop and in some cases destroy a whole vineyard. This makes growing organic vines very difficult in regions where there is a lot of humidity. Therefore organic production is most common in hot dry regions where fungal infections are less likely, and where extra labor can more easily be afforded.
To be able to sell as an organic vineyard, the organization has to be recognized by one of the official certification bodies across the world.