How Producers of Organic Wines Help the Environment and Your Health
By Bill Warry of Bill Warry's World of Wine at Chateau Select Ltd
I was once visiting an organic winegrower in Bordeaux. His opening introduction to his farm was “There is no such thing as 100% organic wine in this area.” “Wild grass flourishes and grows several feet in height right by the vines. We can't clear it by mechanical means without damaging the vines. We have to keep it down with copper sulphate.”
This aside, organic wine growers follow stringent guidelines in avoiding traditional pesticides and fertilisers. Different countries have different national organisations overseeing adherence to these guidelines. In France it is ECOCERT. In the US it is the USDA, the US department of agriculture that looks after this, though individual states sometimes have their own organisation (CCOF in California).
Victor Marques, a Portuguese wine-grower, once told me that in some wine-growing areas, such as in Portugal's Douro Valley, the climatic conditions are such that the vines flourish without needing much in the way of pesticides or fertilizers so that wines are often produced by organic methods even though they are not certified by an organisation such as ECOCERT.
He himself, for example, uses organic fertiliser in preference to industrial. He tries to keep pesticides to a minimum. People often ask about sulfates in wine. To have some is a necessary part of wine-making because they are a by-product of grape skins, but wine-growers often add more as a preservative and this is something that can be avoided (and he does avoid such additives). “One can also avoid adding industrial enzymes, bacteria and yeasts”, says Victor. “Likewise extra sugar (the grapes produce some), preservatives and tannin powder”. “The result,” says Victor, is that people don't get a headache after drinking our wine.”
I was reading in a Natural Health newsletter of just how much our water supply is polluted with pesticides, recycled antibiotics and other medication.. It made me think how much safer wine is than tap water, since it is filtered and purified in the fermentation process. It is safer still if it is produced by Organic methods from vines grown on land not stuffed with artificial fertilisers and pesticides.
Other links that you may find of interest for further reading are:
http://www.demeter.net/ Demeter was the Ancient Greek Godess of Agriculture and gives her name to the organisation that oversees the certification of Biodynamic wine worldwide.