Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine

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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Wine importer J. Soif, Inc. has today announced two significant partnerships it has established through its certified organic wine brand, Yellow+Blue, making it the only carbon-neutral wine importer in the U.S. and the only wine importer in the world to put a portion of its sales towards global microloans.

Due to its eco-friendly Tetra Pak packaging, the carbon footprint of Yellow+Blue wines is 46% less than that of wine in traditional glass bottles. In order to offset the remaining 54%, the company has purchased 472 metric tons of verified carbon offsets to take responsibility for one hundred percent of the emissions generated by moving its wine from the vineyards to its packaging plants and warehouses. The carbon credits, which were purchased from Boulder, CO based Renewable Choice Energy, support a landfill gas-to-energy carbon reduction project in the United States.

“Yellow+Blue’s commitment to analyzing its environmental footprint and supporting carbon reduction shows leadership and demonstrates a best practice for environmental responsibility,” said Quayle Hodek, CEO of Renewable Choice Energy. “This organization is creating awareness for voluntary carbon reductions and the importance of investing in clean technology solutions.”

“Keeping in the spirit of our Drink Well Do Good mantra, oenophiles can not only enjoy our wine, they can feel good about buying it,” said W. Matthew Cain, founder of Yellow+Blue. “I’m proud to say that Yellow+Blue’s investment has the collective environmental impact to help avoid the same amount of CO2 emissions produced by driving nearly 1.1 million miles in an average passenger vehicle.”

Yellow+Blue has also devoted itself to strengthening the global community by becoming an official partner of Kiva (, the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website. Yellow+Blue is giving 1 percent of each sale to Kiva, which empowers unique entrepreneurs around the globe and strives to alleviate poverty. Currently, Yellow+Blue is the only wine brand in the world to join the Kiva community of over 662,000 individuals who have loaned more than $117 million to 290,000 entrepreneurs in 51 countries.

“Yellow+Blue’s decision to work with Kiva is an important milestone for both of our organizations,” said Premal Shah, President of “We’re looking forward to all the positive things to come from this partnership and admire its dedication in helping to make Kiva the world’s hub for alleviating poverty.”

“Our commitment to Kiva strives to enable entrepreneurs throughout the world to realize their dreams of creating a company and giving back to their communities,” said W. Matthew Cain, founder of Yellow+Blue. “As the only wine company affiliated with the organization, we hope that with each glass of Yellow+Blue poured, an entrepreneur somewhere in the world is a step closer achieving his or her goal.”

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cowhornHidden away in a remote river valley of a region historically known more for gold than grapes is Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden, a boutique Demeter-certified Biodynamic estate winery whose first releases are the toast of The James Beard Foundation, Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit, and Oregon’s emerging eco-culinary scene.

Sharing qualities comparable to the world-renowned Châteauneuf-du-Pape region of France’s southern Rhône Valley, Cowhorn sits alongside Southern Oregon’s pristine Applegate River. The farm is fringed by frontier forests on the edge of America’s great western wilderness and supported by soils that are perfectly suited for Grenache, Marsanne, Roussanne, Syrah, and Viognier. Cowhorn’s classic Rhône varietals result in well-balanced wines with low alcohol and high aroma that express signature subtleties of the farm’s unique soils.

Among the new estate’s early accolades is a 90-point rating from Wine Spectator for its 2007 Viognier, now sold out. In their annual round up of most memorable wines, the San Francisco Chronicle featured Cowhorn’s 2007 Marsanne Roussanne, also sold out, as one of the year’s top 20 “unexpected pleasures.” Portland Monthly told readers to “expect to sample some really excellent vino here.” Cowhorn’s 2006 Syrah and 2008 Spiral 36, a hand-crafted blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, were recently poured at The James Beard House in New York City and Fortune magazine’s annual women’s summit in Los Angeles.

Currently the only certified organic and Biodynamic® winery in Southern Oregon, Cowhorn is among the first certified Biodynamic estate wineries and commercial farms in the United States. Guided by holistic-estate advisor Alan York, consultant winemaker Ken Bernards, and environmental designer Buddy Williams, Cowhorn planted its first eleven acres of vineyard in 2005. Using state-of-the-art technology, winemakers Bill and Barbara Steele gently nudge native yeast through the fermentation process on a mission to make fine wine with few inputs, going from grapes to glass as purely as possible.

Cowhorn benefits from being surrounded by biodiversity that serves as a natural immune system for the vineyard and gardens. When combined with organic and Biodynamic farming methods, this symbiotic relationship not only eliminates the need for petrochemical pesticides but supports the vitality of the surrounding ecosystem. Over half of the 117-acre estate is reserved for garden, habitat, forest and riparian areas with just 50 acres set aside for vineyards. Only 15 acres are currently in cultivation, including 11 in vineyard and 4 in gardens.

Their gentle approach includes complementary farming practices that create critical habitat breaks and wildlife corridors, leave landscapes untouched and intact, and remove invasive species to give native plants a chance to take root again. At Cowhorn, scarecrows have given way to predator perches that allow river access for raptors who in turn guard the grapes.

Because Biodynamic farming is deeply rooted in the practice of perennial polyculture, crops are selected that pair well in the field and on the table. The first planting of asparagus, their second commercial crop, followed in 2006. By 2007, Cowhorn’s garden was supplying thousands of pounds of fresh asparagus to local markets and co-ops, and its club members were receiving the bounty of the farm’s first food crop with their wine allotment.

Other crops in development include artichokes, pumpkins, specialty corn, winter squash, and a test orchard for apples, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pears, and persimmons. The estate’s hazelnut trees have even been inoculated with European black truffle.

Visit Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden online at

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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.

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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.

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Living in a new world. That is the concept that the De Martino winery is looking to convey to the consumer with the release of its Nuevo Mundo (New World) wine, the first Carbon Neutral wine in Chile and Latin America.

Produced from organically grown grapes in the Maipo Valley (BCS OKO- Garantie certified), this product has been certified as Carbon Neutral by the Carbon Reduction Institute and its offices in Chile—Green Solutions.

Nuevo Mundo is the first wine to have achieved Carbon Neutral certification at every stage of production, as—from birth until its arrival at the customer—all of the greenhouse gases released during its productions, packaging and delivery have been reduced to zero, making this a wine which does not impact negatively on climate change.

• Eco-friendly bottles are made from 35% recycled materials and have been reduced in weight by 9%.
• US Transport from Organic Vintners (US Importer) warehouse to each distributor has been accounted for and neutralized.
• High level of carbon emissions from business trips made by commercial team have been identified and neutralized.
• Labels are made from recycled paper and have low ink content.
• Amount of packaging and weight of boxes have been reduced and are made from recycled cardboard.

As a producer of premium wines in Chile, De Martino has been a pioneer and leader in sustainable organic production and in taking action against climate change. This fact is in keeping with the winery’s philosophy and its permanent commitment to respect the environment and local conservation in the production of its world class wines.

What is a carbon credit? A carbon credit is equal to one ton reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The sale of carbon credits helps to finance projects that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases or that prevent them from being processed in our atmosphere.

What does being carbon neutral mean? The definition of carbon neutral is any activity, product, service or organization that has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions both direct and indirect, and has neutralized the impact on climate change caused by any remaining emissions but also those from the entire supply chain. As well as directly decreasing global warming, it promotes the development of environmentally friendly initiatives.

The wine is imported into the United States by Organic Vintners.

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