5 Reasons to Grow Organic Grapes: an Invitation to September #WinePW

Winemaker Heather Pyle Lucas at the Lucas Zinstar CCOF (organic certified) old vine vineyard in Lodi

So far this summer, Sue and I crisscrossed California visiting El Dorado County, Lodi, and Santa Barbara County, then I traveled to Oregon on the prowl for a certain type of wine. It’s not red, nor white, nor orange, nor sparkling, nor sweet. In fact, it’s all of the above. What we are looking for is SLOW WINE, wine that will qualify for the Slow Wine Guide,which includes wine grown sustainably, without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers or other chemicals.  Preferably a wine made with minimal intervention, from wineries where winemakers and owners are concerned about the triple bottom line: planet, people, and profit.

In September, we will be leading the Wine Pairing Weekend into a search for organic wine from anywhere in the world and paired with delicious dishes. And you’re invited to join us! 

Steve Beckmen is a biodynamic pioneer in Santa Barbara County and his wines are certified by Demeter which means they are also organic.

Ideally, we want wines that are certified: organic, regenerative organic agriculture, or biodynamic (if they are certified biodynamic, they are also organic). A wine might also be certified Lodi Rules or SIP certified or Salmon Safe or any of a number of other certifications in the US and beyond. However these other certifications don’t necessarily mean the wines are also organic.

Demeter certified biodynamic wines like this one from Troon in Southern Oregon are organic as well!

For September, participants need to find a wine from grapes that COULD qualify as organic and we’d PREFER the grapes be certified but if you find a wine you’ve fallen in love with that you want to write about that’s NOT certified but you are confident is organically grown, go for it! 

Dan Kessler at Kessler-Haak farms organically in the Sta Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara County but is not certified… yet…

What comes to mind when you think of organic produce?  Expensive? Funny looking? Might taste better but then again might not?

Unlike organic produce in the grocery store which may not be picture perfect, organic wine grapes don’t have to be beautiful, although they usually are! Surprisingly organic wine grapes don’t always command a higher price even though they can cost more to produce (10% or more) because they often require increased labor costs. 

Kenyon Elliott at Field Number Fifteen in El Dorado County resuscitated abandoned vineyards and is CCOF (California Cerified Organic Farm).

Why go organic?

One, the California Department of Pesticides Regulation, reports that in 2010 conventionally-grown wine grapes in California had 25 million pounds of pesticides applied to them. That’s more pesticides than regular table grapes, almonds, tomatoes, or even strawberries.

According to the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) about a million pounds of those chemicals on wine grapes are known/probable causes of cancer, are neurotoxins, or are groundwater contaminants. In 2010, 400,000 pounds of Roundup aka Glyphosate was applied to wine grape vineyards. 

Two, pesticide residue contaminates finished wine. Is it a health risk? Read more about that here.

Three, research shows that wine made from certified organic grapes taste better and score higher 

Four, grapes grown organically are better for the planet and the various species that share this planet with us wine drinkers.

Five, grapes grown organically are better for the people who are growing the grapes and working in the vineyards. 

Convinced? 

Eric Weisinger in Ashland Oregon is convinced: his estate vineyards as well as the ones he manages are in the process of going organic, then biodynamic.

Join our adventure in organic wine Saturday September 11! Here’s how:

  1. You have a month to find organic wine. It can be red, white, sparkling, or sweet. You can choose one from anywhere in the world, or compare and contrast one or more wines. Sponsored posts are welcome as long as you clearly indicated which wine/s are samples.
  2. Pair the wine/s with a meal. Bonus for organic, vegetarian pairings.
  3. We love to read about the story behind the wine, your pairings (successes and failures!) as well as travel to the area where your wine came from.
  4. By noon Weds. Sept. 8, get your title to me by email, comment below, or post in the Facebook event.
  5. Between Friday Sept. 10 at 8am and Saturday September 11 8am please publish your post; include #WinePW in the title and add the provided preliminary HTML to link to other participants.
  6. Join our 8am September 11 twitter chat; sample questions about amphora here.
  7. Read around, comment, and share each other’s posts about organic wine.
  8. Add the final HTML to your post which links to participants published posts.

Questions? We’re happy to help. 

At Chateau Davell in El Dorado County they are farming biodynamically and purchasing additional fruit that’s organic and biodynamic.

We wrote about Chateau Davell here. 

What we’ve done in #WinePW so far in 2021:

Winemakers Tara Gomez and Mireia Taribó at Camins 2 Dreams where they purchase organic and biodynamic fruit in the Sta Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara County

Where we’re going with #WinePW in 2021:

  • Sept: Organic Wine — and we’re hosting again!
  • Oct: #MerlotMe with host Jeff Burrows
  • Nov: Paso Robles wines with host Lori Budd
  • Dec: Greek wines with Deanna Kang

 

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