Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine

As organic foods and wines grow in popularity, it’s no surprise that organic cocktails are now popping up in restaurants and bars. Publishing a green version of a mixed drink book could have been as simple as taking your average bartender’s guide and adding organic before every ingredient. Fortunately, Paul Abercrombie has gone the extra mile in Organic, Shaken and Stirred – Hip Highballs, Modern Martinis and Other Totally Green Cocktails, and provided a fun well-thought-out collection of hedonistic concoctions that take advantage of why you want to drink organic in the first place; purity of flavor.

Ambercrombie has collected drink recipes from mixologists around the country, and provided a great index of organic sprits and mixers, along with their websites, so you know what to look for before your next party. Better yet, the photography in the book is fantastic. You’ll be inspired to make your own Saffron Margaritas and Frozen Berry Bellinis the moment you lay eyes on them.

Purchase Organic, Shaken and Stirred at

read more

Nothing says New Year’s Eve like the sound of corks popping, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to Champagne. Prosecco, Italy’s famous sparkling wine, makes a great and affordable alternative. We spoke with with Enore Ceola, Managing Director of Mionetto USA, about their success in bringing organic Prosecco into the United States.

How is Prosecco doing in the U.S. market?

It’s doing very well. The entire category is up 21%. Mionetto itself is up 36%. It fits the bill with economy and is a very good value. For $12-15 you can get a good Prosecco. The taste profile fits the palette of many Americans. Fruity, not too sweet and crisp. And it goes great with food. People are saving champagne for special occasions, and enjoying Prosecco for everyday use as well as celebrations.

Will people stop buying Prosecco if the economy improves then?

No, I think the future will be better. When we first came here 12 years ago, people couldn’t pronounce Prosecco. We worked with retails stores and restaurants to educate them and then the consumers got interested. They buy it because they like it. I can tell from the repeat orders.

People are discovering Proseccos, Cavas and Californian sparkling wines. They can spend less money and get something really good.

How much of your wine is sold in the U.S.?

We make a little under a million cases a year. 25% of that is sold in the U.S.

What made you decide to make a certified organic Prosecco?

We’ve seen the demand for organic products. First foods, then wines. There are younger people, more cosmopolitan and more health conscious. They’ve been looking for something sparkling that’s organic. I’ve seen that increasingly in the last two years.

Had Mionetto been involved with organics before?

Many of our grape growers were already practicing organics, but they weren’t certified. In Italy it is very costly, and most people don’t care about the label because they are more used to getting things locally anyway. Things aren’t as processed as they are here in the United States. We never put a stamp on it before because the demand wasn’t there.

Is certifying a difficult process?

Yes. The rounds of going back and forth to get the right documents, having things translated, so many papers. It took over three months to get the label approved. But now we know the process and we can be much faster.

Do you see any chance of the European Union and the United States granting reciprocal certification?

No. I would hope they would do it, but it doesn’t look good. Then again, some things in life shouldn’t always be easy.

Will Mionetto expand their organic selections in the future?

We will try to stay with what we have now for the next 2 to 3 years, and get the right feedback. They if customers are interested we can expand. Maybe do an organic moscato. We already have an organic Pinot Grigio out under another label. We have to find the right accounts. Not everyone can sell organic, but it is a growing category.

read more

When Organic Vintners announced they would stop online wine sales it was sad news for those who like to purchase their organic wines online. But now The Organic Wine Company has come to the rescue and will be offering many of Organic Vintners selections on their online store. Congratulations to Veronique Raskin and Paolo Benetti on working together for the benefit of organic wine drinkers everywhere.

Here is the press release:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, DECEMBER 17, 2009: As of the end of this year (2009) Organic Vintners (OV) will no longer be selling organic wines to consumers direct online. In order to continue to provide these wines to their existing online customers, The Organic Wine Company (OWC) has agreed to enhance our existing partnership with OV by adding additional OV wines to our online store.

In an email announcement today, Paolo Benetti, (President of Organic Vintners, assured his customers that; “OWC has been as committed to certified organic wines as Organic Vintners and has been a pioneer dating back to pre-organic regulations. OWC has a wonderful on-line portfolio of certified organic wines which have included some of our brands in the past few years, and they have committed to taking on a few more wines in order to service your chemical-free wine needs.”

Founded in 1980 by Veronique Raskin in San Francisco, The Organic Wine Company imports, distributes, and retails online, a quality selection of organic wines from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile as well as specialty organic wines from California for over 30 years. Information about the company can be found at their web site at

Founded in 2001 in Boulder Colorado, Organic Vintners imports and distributes a quality selection of organic wines from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile as well as their own branded line of organic wines from California. Information about the company can be found at their web site at

read more

Tony Coturri does the official ribbon cutting.

Tony Coturri does the official ribbon cutting.

One of the perks of working at the Organic Wine Journal is sometimes a favorite winemaker stops by on Thanksgiving. And you can convince them to do some weird things in the spirit of the holidays. Tony Coturri was in New York City to serve his wines at the James Beard House dinner, but stopped over beforehand with his entourage to have some drinks with our guests.

The wine fridge may be small, you make these sacrifices living in the city, but we have the only officially-dedicated Tony Coturri wine fridge in existence. Speeches were given, toasts were made, and this seemed like a good idea after all the wine we already had before Tony showed up.

read more

Looks like one less place to buy organic wine online. We got the following email announcement last week.

Organic Vintners has made the decision to stop servicing consumers direct. While this is a difficult decision, Organic Vintners is making progress in 28 states through wine distributors, retailers, restaurants, wine shops, and liquor stores.

Our focus for 2010 will be to grow our trade accounts with the goal that your favorite organic wines will be available in your town.

For the remainder of the year we will continue to bring you our certified organic selections while supplies last. Click here to browse our available organic wine selection.

I appreciate your continued business since 2002 and please do not hesitate to call me at 303-245-8773 x 17 to find out where our organic wines are locally available to you. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

We wish our friends at Organic Vintners continued good luck with bringing organic wines to the masses.

read more

Long Meadow Ranch

Long Meadow Ranch is showing Napa Valley vineyards can do more than just grow great grapes. The Hall family is using the land to also produce organic olive oil, eggs, herbs, produce and grass-fed beef. Read the story by Drew Stoga over at FlypMedia.

read more

Pioneers in biodynamic winegrowing in New Zealand since 1983, James and Annie Millton’s winery, Millton Vineyards has recently received Demeter Certification. “It is great to see that my twenty six years of experience as a biodynamic winegrower are proving to be a useful foundation for the growth and acceptance of this methodology,” says James, who was instrumental in developing the Demeter wine standards in conjunction with the NZ Biodynamic Association.

Demeter is the only ecological association that has built up a network of individual certification organizations for agricultural products and represents more than 4.200 producers in 43 countries, with only 60 wineries recognized worldwide. Demeter Certification is based on the Biodynamic method, developed in 1924 by Dr Rudolf Steiner. Biodynamics focuses on treating the soil as a living organism and using a unique process of vineyard preparations and practices. As interest and demand for biodynamically grown products increases, this very unique and innovative method of cultivation is gaining more credence.

“It is somewhat amusing to consider that the conventional practice is centered around the control of ‘dis-ease’ whereas building harmony and balance is quite considerably easier to achieve with such innovative practice as we use,” says James. “By recognizing the energy and life forces within the universe all of the work of the farm is planned in the context of the wider pattern of lunar and cosmic rhythms. “Biodynamic farming takes a proactive rather than reactive approach to all aspects in the vineyard. Before a wine can be great, it must first be true”.

The Millton Vineyard is the only New Zealand wine producer in the union of producers commonly referred to as the ‘Return to Terroir – La Renaissance des Appellations”( This group of 120 biodynamic wine producers come together several times a year to host tastings and exhibitions in cities globally including New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and London.

read more

The inaugural Nedbank Green Wine Awards were announced today at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town.

The Nedbank Green Wine Awards have come about due to the increased popularity and consumer interest in this category. Nedbank was the natural partner for the awards due to their ongoing involvement with conservation projects. Their support for the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative through the Green Trust has been in effect since the organizations inception in 2004.

The Green Wine Awards are two pronged: Best Wine from Organically Grown Grapes, and Best Environmental Practices Award.

Best Wine from Organically Grown Grapes

Producers were asked to submit wines made from organically grown grapes together with valid organic certification. The wines were divided into categories according to grape variety or style and tasted blind (labels un-sighted) by a five-person panel appointed by WINE magazine.

One white and one red emerged a clear step above the competition, these being Lazanou Organic Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2008 and Laibach The Ladybird Red 2007 respectively. The Lazanou Organic Vineyards Chenin Blanc was declared the overall winner due to it’s higher arithmetic score.

Best Environmental Practices Award

The aim of incorporating a second category into the Nedbank Green Wine Awards was to recognize the effort being made amongst South African wineries to farm with a view to long term environmental sustainability.

Each producer was asked to provide comprehensive details on farming practices which were then judged according to guidelines set out by the Integrated Production of Wine (South Africa’s internationally recognized voluntary sustainability scheme established in 1998) and the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative.

The judges were Inge Kotzé, project coordinator for the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, Tom McLaughlin, good business journey specialist at Woolworths, and Lourens van Schoor, a registered soil and environmental scientist and director of environmental auditing firm Enviroscientific.

The winner was Oak Valley in Elgin which will receive an IPW audit worth R11 000 sponsored by Enviroscientific for both farm and cellar. The runner up was Waverly Hills.

read more