When you lose someone you love to cancer, you begin asking a lot of questions. You travel down rabbit holes you had never considered and you begin learning about the toxins in our environment. Our food chain is littered with pesticide residues and processed foods on store shelves are loaded with GMO ingredients, sugar and salt. Fluoride in our water is now a known endocrine disruptor. If you live in a rocky area like me, there may be arsenic in your water. It all adds up to an assault on our immune systems. Consumers are more aware than ever and are moving more and more to organics in their food consumption. But what about wine?
As reported by Decanter in February of 2013, a study of French wine found that 90% of the samples contained pesticide and fungicide residues. Yes the levels were below allowable limits but some wines contained several molecules. If this is true of French wines, then it's probably true of wine from the rest of the world, yet wine consumers don't seem to be clamoring for more organic wine. Well, I am, and I'm finding more and more organic and biodynamic wines hidden on the shelves in my local store.
It used to be that the organic section of retail wine stores was a small, lonely place filled with the same old brands. Frey Vineyards of Mendocino in California has been making organic wine since 1980 and Bonterra; another domestic organic brand has been around since 1993. These two producers dominated the organic sections of stores for years. Even now the organic section in the store I frequent is very small. This is a store with over 4,000 wines on hand, yet the organic section has maybe 15 wines. One thing to be aware of is that even organic wines are treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve and stabilize them for shipping. The wine industry would not be able to ship wines around the world without it. It's a fairly benign compound that is problematic only for people with a sensitivity to sulfites.
These are just a few of the organic wines I've found hidden in the large inventory of wines in my local shop beyond the organic section. The Chateau Jarr Bordeaux blanc and The Montinore Willamette Valley Pinot Gris cost $12.99, the Mas de Gourgonnier Provence Rose cost $13.99, the Luzon Verde Spanish Monastrell from Jumilla cost a whopping $7.99 and the De Martino Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley in Chile cost $11.99. These are all delicious everyday wines that you can throw down guilt free and know that you are doing something good for yourself and the environment.
More and more wine producers are moving to organic and biodynamic production methods as they have realized that the health of their soils and vines depend on the natural replenishment of friendly compounds and microbes. This blogger, Kenn Pogash, has published a very cool index of organic and biodynamic producers from around the world. I'm not sure how old it is but it is very extensive. Enjoy.