Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine



Clarifying the Confusion Behind Organic Wine Labels Is Focus of Press Conference and Seminar at Expo West

Media and organic industry representatives attending Natural Products Expo West are invited to attend a key press conference and seminar focusing on clarifying consumer and trade confusion over organic wine labeling regulations, on Saturday, March 12, 4:00 – 5:00 pm in Room 205A, Anaheim Convention Center.

Media members and organic industry members attending this year’s Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA, are invited to attend an important press conference and seminar focusing on clarifying the confusion behind organic wine labeling regulations.

The press conference and seminar on organic wine labeling will take place on Saturday, March 12, 4:00 – 5:00 pm in Room 205A at the Anaheim Convention Center. Natural Products Expo West, held March 10-13, is the world’s largest natural and organic products trade show, attracting more than 60,000 trade visitors annually.

The press conference and panel is being hosted by a group of artisan organic wine producers, including Paul Dolan Vineyards, Barra of Mendocino, Redwood Valley Cellars and Organic Vintners, and will feature wine columnist W. Blake Gray, publisher of The Gray Market Report.

Gray is a noted authority on organic wine labeling and the organic wine market. His article recently published in the Los Angeles Times brings a clear synthesis of the organic wine labeling issue to national attention. Chef Akasha Richmond, founder of Los Angeles’ renowned Restaurant Akasha, will also speak at the press conference and panel discussion, along with pioneer organic wine trader Paul Chartrand of Chartrand Imports; Barney Feinblum, Co-founder and Director of Alfalfa’s Market; and veteran organic legal expert Richard Siegel.

The event is open to all media members and organic trade members attending Natural Products Expo West.

Press Conference and Seminar Title:

Why Isn’t More Wine Organic? Clarifying Organic Wine Labels.

When and Where:

Saturday, March 12, 4:00 – 5:00 pm, Room 205A, Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA.

Description:

Why has growth in organic wine lagged significantly behind the overall organic market? How can we promote more organic vineyard acreage, when wine producers are not rewarded for their commitment to organic? This panel of experts will discuss the confusion around the labeling of organic wines, including no sulfite added NSA wines, as well as wines made from 100% certified organically grown grapes. The panel will discuss how a petition under review by the National Organic Standards Board can clear up consumer confusion around organic wine labels, reduce “greenwashing,” and help propel the growth of the market, while maintaining strict organic standards.

Speakers:

  • W. Blake Gray, Wine Journalist and Publisher, The Gray Market Report, San Francisco, CA

  • Akasha Richmond, Founder, Restaurant Akasha, Los Angeles, CA

  • Barney Feinblum, Co-founder and Director, Alfalfa’s Market, Boulder, CO

  • Richard Siegel, Director, Richard D. Siegel Law Offices, Washington, DC

  • Paul Chartrand, Founder and CEO, Chartrand Imports, Rockland, ME

  • Moderator: Steven Hoffman, President, Compass Natural, Boulder, CO

Paul Dolan Vineyards, Barra of Mendocino, Redwood Valley Cellars and Organic Vintners are producers and sellers of wines made from 100% certified organically grown grapes. As co-petitioners to amend organic wine labeling via a petition that has been approved for review by the National Organic Standards Board at its upcoming national meetings, the group of artisan organic wine producers hopes to clarify labeling confusion, maintain current strict organic standards, and help spur the growth of organic winegrape growing acreage. According to industry estimates, the organic wine market has lagged more than 10-fold behind growth of the overall organic market, and many believe it is due to complex and often confusing organic wine labeling regulations.


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Certified organic Muddy Water Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay to be available from 2011.

Muddy Water winery – a small family owned vineyard in Waipara, North Canterbury – has become Certified Fully Organic under the AsureQuality Organics Programme.

“What this means for wine lovers in New Zealand, and around the world, is that certified organic vintages of our widely acclaimed Muddy Water Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay will be available from 2011,” says Muddy Water owner, Jane East.

“Since establishing Muddy Water in the early 90s and beginning wine production in 2001, we have always taken steps to ensure our business meets our own sustainability objectives – both in our grape growing and wine production methods. To have our commitment to environmentally sound farming and business practices formally recognised is very exciting.”

Muddy Water chose AsureQuality as their certifier as it meets the strict international standards set down by IFOAM, USDA NOP and NZFSA.

“We could have simply gone down the path of marketing our wine as being produced using ‘organic principles’. But we knew we were already adopting many sustainable practices and with some changes to the way we did things could achieve full certification,” says Jane.

The team has been working towards certification since 2007, and considers being recognised as Certified Fully Organic, effective 1 October 2010, to be a significant milestone for the business.

“It’s impossible to ignore the marketing opportunity available to the New Zealand wine industry by building on our clean, green image and leading the world in the production of high-end organic wines,” says Jane. “We are definitely pleased to be one of the first few New Zealand wineries to take up this opportunity, but for us being recognised as fully organic has always been about more than this.”

The Muddy Water owners, Jane and her husband Mike East, firmly believe that organic production is better for the team out in the vineyard, better for the long term sustainability of the land and actually results in a better quality wine that expresses the special characteristics of the Waipara area.

Vineyard Manager, Miranda Brown has been leading the changes in grape growing and wine production methods, enabling Muddy Water to become Certified Full Organic.

“Since 2007, there have been a few significant and noticeable changes to the way we do things at Muddy Water, and a number of less noticeable ones,” says Miranda.

“Going through this process has definitely made me a better viticulturist, as I need to spend more time managing the vines, anticipating potential issues and proactively taking steps to deal to issues early.”

A key change is that weeds are controlled by cultivating under the vine instead of herbicide use. Many of the persistent weeds that can cause problems have disappeared, replaced with non-competing species such as clover and plantain.

Another big shift is in the way pests are controlled – by planting flowers such as buckwheat and phacelia, wasps and hoverflies are attracted that attack the pest species. Diseases are controlled with sulphur, seaweed, compost teas and biological fungicides such as Trichoderma sp.

The organic practices of the vineyard follow on into the winery with the use of wild yeasts, no additions to the wines and unfiltered bottling whenever possible.

“Waipara has the ideal climate for organic wine production – with its long hot summers and dry autumns. We hope a number of other wineries in the region follow our lead and help make Waipara famous for producing top quality organic wines,” says Miranda.


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From the Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard website:

Following 30 years of organic production of English wines under Soil Association organic standards here at Sedlescombe, the process of converting to Demeter accreditation under standards set by the Biodynamic Association was started in Spring 2010.

As we were already operating according to EU 2092/91 regulation, a conversion period is unnecessary and our wine produced from 2010 grapes will be Bio-dynamic certified. This wine will be released in Spring 2011.

On becoming Bio-dynamic, Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard will apply to join the prestigious world-wide groupings of Bio-dynamic Vineyards as a member of “Return to Terroir”. This group, founded by Nicolas Joly, seeks to re-assert the individuality and difference of wines produced in different regions and in different localities and to set itself apart from the faceless blandness and conformity of the products of international wine conglomerates.

Roy & Irma Cook, in association with vineyard manager Inga Keck (see below photo) are now applying the principles of Biodynamic agriculture as laid down by Rudolf Steiner in 1924, on all 22 acres of their organic vineyards.

One of the main differences between organic and bio-dynamic lies in the application of specially composted manures and silica extracts designed to promote microbiological activity in the soil to improve fertility and to enhance light uptake and photosynthesis through the plants leaves.

Read the full post.


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The 2010 harvest will mark DeLoach Vineyards’ 35th vintage in the Russian River Valley, and will be the first harvest from its estate vineyards since achieving certification for organic and Biodynamic® farming practices in 2008 and 2009, respectively. To celebrate this milestone and commitment to sustainable farming, DeLoach, in partnership with Rodale Inc.’s Organic Gardening magazine, is offering the chance to win a weekend getaway at the winery’s private guesthouse retreat. The sweepstakes runs now through November 9th, 2010. Consumers can enter to win (it is free to enter, and no purchase is required), and learn more about DeLoach and its commitment to sustainable winegrowing, at www.organicgardening.com/sonomasweeps.

Free airfare for two, gourmet meals prepared by the DeLoach chef, and a VIP tour of the DeLoach winery and its highly-acclaimed portfolio of small-production, vineyard-designate wines are but accoutrements to the opportunity to learn about Biodynamic® winegrowing from one of the Russian River Valley’s pioneering producers of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. Sweepstakes winners will arrive at DeLoach with perhaps an appreciation for wine and a need for a vacation, but will leave well-rested, well-fed, and with a greater understanding of responsible, sustainable farming methods and their effects on both the wine world and the environment as a whole. DeLoach is part of a small community of like-minded wineries that have made the commitment to seek Demeter certification for Biodynamic farming practices. Currently, there are just sixty-eight wineries and vineyards in the U.S. that have or are seeking Demeter Biodynamic® certification.

About DeLoach Vineyards

DeLoach Vineyards has been a pioneering producer of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley since 1975. DeLoach seeks to produce exceptional wines that spotlight the singular personality of the Russian River Valley, with its rare and bountiful convergence of the sea, the soil and the stars. The Boisset family of Burgundy purchased DeLoach in 2003, bringing the techniques and approaches of Burgundy to the Russian River Valley, which they believed to be California’s most expressive terroir for cultivating Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Under Boisset, DeLoach has grown its small-lot vineyard designate wine program, converted to organic and Biodynamic® farming practices, and implemented traditional Burgundian winemaking techniques such as open-top wood fermentors, native yeast fermentations, and hand punch-downs. Wine & Spirits magazine named DeLoach Vineyards a Top 100 Winery for the tenth time in the winery’s history in 2009. Located at 1791 Olivet Road in Santa Rosa, the DeLoach Vineyards tasting room, picnic area and organic garden are open to the public daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.deloachvineyards.com.

About Organic Gardening

For 70 years, Rodale’s Organic Gardening, the leading magazine resource for living a healthier, more environmentally conscious lifestyle, has been empowering its readers with the most trusted, eco-friendly news and information. With the mission to “work in harmony with nature,” its editorial landscape leads the charge toward a sustainable future, delivering the safest and most natural approach to health, home, food and garden. In 2009, the magazine experienced double-digit gains in ad sales, newsstand sales and total circulation, further reinforcing the power and growing vitality of the green movement. In 2010, Organic Gardening earned the #8 spot on AdWeek’s prestigious “Hot List: 10 Under 60.”


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Lake County, CA: The Boies and Hawkins families cordially invite you to visit their Demeter Biodynamic 900 acre ranch and vineyard Estate where they will meet you in person. Hawk and Horse Vineyards is situated in Lower Lake, California, on the historic 900 acre Diamond B Ranch, owned by famed New York attorney, David Boies and family. Mitch and Tracey Hawkins (Tracey is Mr. Boies step-daughter) are the managing partners of Hawk and Horse Vineyards. They have transformed 18 acres of the rough, California North Coast hillside land from an untamed and overgrown 150-year old walnut grove to the beautifully manicured, yet naturally wild vineyard. Owl boxes, hawk perches and bluebird boxes dot the landscape. French Prune trees are planted on the perimeter of the vineyard to encourage beneficial insects – and the vine-rows, themselves, are carpeted in a carefully selected mix of beneficial ground cover – crimson clover, yarrow, bell-beans, and other low-growing flowering plants and herbs which encourage beneficial insects.

“We have been flying under the radar, producing very small quantities of ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon wine made from grapes from our own vineyard and selling it direct. Now we have opened our ranch and vineyard for tours and on-site tastings. We have been blessed with all of the natural elements needed to make a wine of world-class distinction – high-elevation volcanic soil, natural spring water, and climate perfectly suited to growing Cabernet Sauvignon. We have taken these elements carefully in hand and created what we feel are wines that offer something very unique – a wine that truly expresses the finest elements of our teroir. Our commitment has been to producing a wine of the highest excellence.“ , says Tracey Hawkins.

“We believe that the wine is made in the vineyard and adhere to old-world farming and wine making practices. We harvest our grapes when the balance of sugar, acid and ph are at just the right balance. Ripeness is an expression of all of those things along with the time-tested method of taste. Bringing in fruit at its optimal maturity means that we have very little to do in the winery and that our wines are made in the most natural way to complement each vintage. We incorporate Biodynamic and Organic farming practices, not because it is trendy, but, simply, because it is the best way to make a wine which is true to place – a wine distinct and expressive of our unique terroir.”

Farming is done by hand. No chemical preparations are used. Instead, Hawk and Horse Vineyards applies Biodynamic preparations – made from elements on site – to enliven the soil. Valuable compost along with Biodynamic preparations such as 500 – Horn Dung; 501 – Horn Cilicia, and herbal teas are made and used. A small herd of Scottish Highlander cattle make their home on Diamond B Ranch – their sole purpose being to provide the basic ingredients of the Biodynamic Preparations used in the vineyard. The Highlanders are an ancient breed known for hardiness, ease in calving, high quality beef and superb hides. They also add a sense of loveliness and grace to the landscape. In addition to the Highlanders, Horses play a role in the daily work on HHV. Mitch and Tracey use their American Saddlebred horses to ride the fence line, while daughters, Francesca and Nina Hawkins compete in traditional Rodeo and Gymkhana events.

Another old-world aspect of Hawk and Horse Vineyards – when you phone to purchase wines, you’ll speak directly with owner, Tracey Hawkins. She will be happy to talk wine, farming or horses with you. If you get Mitch, speak loudly as he will most likely be on a tractor!

HawkandHorseVineyards.com.


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Organic Brandy is now available from Harris Organic Wines in Perth’s Swan Valley.

The brandy – certified by the body Australian Certified Organic (ACO) – is distilled and matured in oak casks on the premises at Harris Organic Wines.

Being certified organic means that there is no other brandy like this in Australia. Matured into a smooth high quality cognac style with flavours of almond, coconut, fig, vanilla, apricot, hazelnut, caramel and nutmeg.

“Most brandy sold in Australia is imported, so this brandy is very special for many reasons” says Duncan.

Duncan and Deborah believe that organics is indeed the best way to go in any food operation, not only from the point of view of human health, but just as importantly the health of the environment and so sustainable production practices.

“It is important that our customers get the assurance from an independent certifying body about the organic integrity, as well as the quality of our organic wine” says Duncan.

“Although our vineyard and winery is very small, the organics movement itself is part of a larger world-wide realisation that we have to become conscious consumers – to give something back to the lived environment. Informed consumers want to know what is going into their goods and foods, and the reassurance that production has not been harmful to the environment – and more power to them!”.

Visit Harris Wines online.


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Napa Valley, CA, March 31, 2010 – HALL Wines, the premier 21st century vineyard and winery, announces today that it has received Organic Certification from the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), one of the nation’s oldest and largest organic certification and trade associations in North America. This achievement reinforces HALL Wines’ steadfast commitment to sustainability following HALL St. Helena’s Gold LEED® Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council in July 2009.

“One of the greatest benefits to practicing organic farming methods is that we spend more time in the vineyard,” said Don Munk, Director of Vineyard Operations at HALL Wines. “This allows us to really pay attention to what is happening naturally. Organic farming utilizes preventive methods as opposed to corrective activities, allowing HALL to create a healthier soil for our vineyards which, in return, increases the longevity of the vines and the overall health of the land.”

Organic farming certification requires that HALL adhere to strict standards in order to maintain soil fertility and crop nutrition. The practice of farming organically produces one of the smallest carbon footprints of any agricultural process, maintains the diversity of plants, and ensures the presence of native species to establish the long term health and fertility of the soil; thereby allowing for increased longevity for vineyards. With the focus on natural products, HALL Wines does not use chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or herbicides. Instead, HALL Wines creates a habitat for natural predators and plants cover crops to help build healthy matter in the soil. The HALL Team, dedicated to the art of handcrafted winemaking, spends an immense amount of time in the vineyards, diligently monitoring water stress, vine health, vine balance and grape maturity to guarantee that the grapes are nurtured to their highest potential.

The organic farming certification process spans three years and each of HALL’s six estates located throughout Napa Valley and Alexander Valley in Sonoma County follow the strict guidelines set forth by the CCOF. To date in 2010, 355 acres owned by the HALL’s have been certified organic. The last of the estate vineyards, known as the Hardester Ranch with 145 planted acres, will receive its organic certification on August 18, 2010.

Kathryn and Craig Hall, Owners of HALL Wines, made it a long-term mission to become a leader in earth-friendly California winegrowing and serve as stewards of the land. HALL St. Helena is the first Gold LEED® Certified Winery in the State of California, making HALL Wines a pioneer in the use of green buildings in the wine industry. HALL St. Helena maintains one acre of solar panels on its roof and uses 100% recycled water throughout its processes. HALL further extends their environmental responsibilities to their general operations via the use of bio-diesel in their farming equipment in addition to their fish–friendly farming techniques, which aids to protect the waterways and sustain and support the environment. Furthermore, all of HALL estate vineyards are enrolled in the Napa Green program, the wine industry’s most comprehensive “best practices” in land-use and wine production focusing on building environmentally sound, sustainable practices.

Visit Hall Wines online.


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Twenty years after Philippe Drouhin first began introducing organic practices to the vineyards making up the family company’s domaine (estate), Maison Joseph Drouhin (MJD), the highly regarded producer of Burgundy wines, has been awarded organic certification for all grapes grown within its vineyards beginning with the 2009 vintage. Announcement of the certification was made by Frédéric Drouhin, chief executive officer and president of Joseph Drouhin.

Although the Drouhin vineyards have been organic for years, official regulations require a three- year “conversion” period during which the rules of organic production are applied and verified in the vineyards. The certification process began in August 2006 with a lengthy application to Ecocert, one of several registered companies documenting organic production.

While 2009 is the official vintage year for organic certification, Philippe Drouhin, one of the four siblings running MJD and the one in charge of the company’s 73-hectare (182.5-acre) estate, including 38 hectares (just under 93 acres) of Chablis, now known as Chablis Drouhin Vaudon, began introducing organic practices back in 1990, shortly after joining the family firm. His father, Robert, had already returned to “culture raisonnée,” more traditional viticultural practices, in the late ’70s, but, as he says, “Philippe went further than I.”

Since he took over, Philippe has moved away from all but the most simple and natural treatments of the vine toward a non-interventionist approach and, beginning in 1997, has instituted many of the practices of biodynamie. Considered a leader in the field by fellow Burgundians, Philippe’s credo – and that of the entire family and company – is to bring natural responses to natural problems. Some vineyards are plowed by horses in the steepest areas; grass grows between vines to keep down weeds, fertilization is with natural compost; and treatments are done with herb infusions.

While many wine marketers trumpet organic and “green” credentials with seals, stickers, neckers and brochures, Maison Joseph Drouhin, in its principled and understated way, will confine its achievement only to press releases and web site information. Consumers may be assured, however, that beginning with the 2009 vintage, wines from Joseph Drouhin vineyards, most bearing the words “propriété de famille” on the label, are officially organic – as they actually have been for the past 20 years.

Known and appreciated for their elegant, refined style, the wines of Joseph Drouhin are imported into the U.S. and distributed nationally by Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., based in New York City, whose mission as an importer is to maintain loyalty to all that is special about family-owned and
-operated wineries.


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