Is "Organic Wine"
Just Another Marketing Ploy?
premium wines are organic? What about the terms "sustainable,"
"organically grown grapes," "integrated pest management"
or even "biodynamic"? What do all of these terms mean, and
what effect do they have on the wine I drink? The answers to these
questions will be surprising to most people.
is that the wine industry has been at the forefront of environmentally
conscious agriculture for a very long time.
vineyard or estate winery owners live on or very near the property
where the grapes are grown. And a great deal of these owners have
come to the lifestyle of vineyard/winery owner by investing the fortunes
that they have made elsewhere in the business world into an agrarian-based
existence. These people were escaping the high stress and noxious
life of the cities for their vision of utopia in the country.
have been very hard for these vineyard/winery owners to forget what
made them successful in the business world - the bottom line. The
bottom line on fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides is that they
are very expensive to apply and once you are on them it is very difficult
to get off the treadmill without making a significant sacrifice.
you are developing a raw piece of land, why start in the first place?
there is so much environmentally conscious wine grape growing being
done, why haven't we heard anything about it? The answer to that question
lies mostly in the fact that there is no standard for what organic
might be news to those who have been supporting sustainable agriculture
by the purchase of only wine that is "certified organic."
problem with "certified organic" is that there are multiple
certifying agencies; each with different standards and, to date, there
is no government regulation for the term "organic wine."
The USDA has been working on developing standards for organic wine.
A preliminary draft has been circulated and input received from the
various interested parties.
of these parties agree that the USDA standards should be a floor,
not a ceiling, for certification. They espouse that their more stringent
standards are the only "true" way to protect the public.
they fail to publicly admit is that in order to receive their certification,
wineries have to pay a fee. Organic certification is a business, and
some of the standards are set as much for fee generation as to protect
a USDA standard for the term organic wine, and proper labeling laws
enforced by the ATF, wineries would be free to market wine with notation
for its organic status, and then further describe what steps that
winery has taken beyond the USDA requirements. By avoiding fees to
some third party certification company, the wineries could pass the
savings on to the consumer.
NOTE: Sonny Martin has been in the wine sales community for nearly
two decades; this article first appeared as a weekly wine column
in the Visalia Times-Delta.)
Clearing up the Confusion About Organic Wine (Organic Consumers