My husband and I have been drinking mostly organic wines for a couple years now.
When moving to the Okanagan region of BC we suddenly became surrounded by wineries and learned more about the winemaking process. At the same time, we became more selective.
We quickly realized that when drinking organic wines we never had a headache the next day. Interesting, eh? (Those headaches are often due to toxins, mold or added processing chemicals found in conventional wines).
This summer, we pushed our exploration further to discover natural wines. We fell in love!
Let me share some of my findings - keep in mind, I'm not an expert but I'm enjoying learning as we go. With this blog, I simply wish to bring more awareness to these amazing wines and hard working winemakers!
Enters natural wines.
Natural wines are organic grapes grown on biodynamic farms and produced with minimal manipulation. Essentially, it's grape juice that has naturally fermented. No additives.
I know what you're thinking: it's wine for health nuts and it doesn't taste any good. Well let me stop you here. Critics score these wines 6-12 points higher than conventional wine.1
I say it's time for you to explore them too!
But what is it, really?
Decanter describes Natural Wines perfectly:
• Vineyards farmed organically or biodynamically – certification was strongly preferred, but uncertified wines were accepted
• Hand-harvested only
• Fermentation with indigenous (wild) yeasts
• No enzymes
• No additives added (such as acid, tannin, colouring) other than SO2
• SO2 levels no higher than 70mg/l total
• Unfined, and no (or light) filtration
• No other heavy manipulation (such as spinning cone, reverse osmosis, cryoextraction, rapid-finishing, Ultraviolet C irradiation)
Interestingly, all nature wines are organic, but not the opposite.
When you look at them, natural wines are not as clear because minimal filtration was used.
The exception, not the norm.
The Canadian wine industry has an annual economic impact of over 9 Billion dollars2 - yes, you read that right! It's huge!
The organic wine market in Canada takes up a very small portion of this number but it's been growing steadily from year to year as customers are gaining in interest and curiosity.
Seeing the organic sector grow is good news for everyone.
It means, less fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides are used while growing the grapes. This results in less chemicals found in our air, soil and water sources which in turn means healthier brains and bodies.
Let's not forget one key benefit for the customer experience: it reveals the true flavors of the grape.
Building healthy soil for a healthy planet.
Most organic growers see their vineyard as a living system which is why some work hard to push their farming process even further and become biodynamic. This allows for a full balance of plants, insects, animals, flowers on the farm and minimal to no waste.
(by the way, have you watched Biggest Little Farm? If you like this kind of stuff, do yourself a favor and watch it here!)
Biodynamic farms create healthy soil and healthy soil has the capacity to absorb and hold carbon. As outlined in the movie Kiss The Ground, building healthy soils through regenerative and biodynamic farming is a critical solution to our global excess carbon problem (ie. climate change).
"New Soil Study Shows Carbon Sequestration 9-13% Higher for Biodynamic and Organic Viticulture Than Conventional" - Wine Country Geographic
Drinking organic, biodynamic or natural wines supports farmers that are working hard to have an impact and make a difference.
That alone is a valuable reason to drink them. Plus, I feel sooooo much better when drinking them.
This blog is an invitation to re-evaluate your wine buying habits and explore what is in your region.
Here are a few of my favorite wineries that follow these principles in the Okanagan region of BC Canada:
- Lighting Rock Winery, Summerland BC: organic and natural (the owner Ron is the best host!)
- Sage Hills, Summerland: organic and natural
- Echo Bay Vineyard, Okanagan Falls: organic and natural
- Rigour & Whimsy, Okanagan Falls: organic and natural
- Plot Wines, South Okanagan: organic and natural
- Ursa Major Winery, Oliver: organic and natural
- Blind Tiger, Lake Country: organic
- Off the Grid, West Kelowna: organic
- Summerhill Winery, Kelowna: organic and biodynamic
Additional read: Wines of Canada