A term so ubiquitous that we may have forgotten what it means, (that is if we ever knew) “organic” has made its way deep into wine country. And although only 5% of vineyard acreage worldwide is currently farmed organically, the production and consumption of organic wine are expected to boom big in the coming years. But back to basics for a moment, what exactly is organic farming and what does it mean for wine making?
What Is Organic Farming?
Broadly speaking, organic farming simply means farming produce or livestock with as little intervention as possible. The idea is to return the land to its natural, biodynamic cycles, and minimise human control over it. In practice this means no synthetic pesticides, fertilisers, or chemicals. Stepping back, it looks a lot like a return to more traditional methods of farming. Thankfully, the same principles for produce and livestock hold true for organic wine production.
What Are the Origins of Organic Farming?
Though some people like to think of organic farming as another millennial shopping trend, the term “organic” first emerged in the post-war era as a pushback on the efficiency-seeking strategies of large-scale factory farming, and the use of chemicals therein.
The leading certifier of organic produce in the UK today, The Soil Association, was set up in 1946, and as early as the 1960s, researchers were beginning to show the harmful impact of farming chemicals on human health. Since then, the battle has raged between conventional and organic farming practices over the question of organic benefits.
Is Organic Eating Better?
Three in ten people in Britain prefer to serve their families organic and “natural” food, but is organic food better for you? Well, the jury is still out on a definitive answer to that perennial question, in large part because direct comparisons are almost impossible.
There is no doubt that organic produce contains more micronutrients than conventional produce but whether this has a meaningful impact on our health is harder to say. It stands to reason that organic fruit and veg, more often bought locally and therefore usually fresher, is tastier as a result. And while animal welfare has always been part of organic certification, employee welfare is also considered under modern regulations, so the people working the land and vineyards are cared for with an equally long-term view as the surrounding ecosystem.
What is certain is that organic farming is better for the land it’s derived from. With less heavy-handed intervention, adjoining flora and fauna are left to thrive as they once were.
What Is Organic Wine?
Differing from designations such as “natural wine” and “biodynamic wine”, and just like organic food, organic wine must jump through specific regulatory hoops to earn its stripes. These rules differ slightly worldwide but encompass the same broad principles of low-intervention and the required absence of pesticides and other chemicals. But is it better to drink organic wine?
Is It Better to Drink Organic Wine?
On one level there is no question that organic wine is a purer expression of the terroir, the land the vines are growing on. And we could argue if wine can be made without residual chemicals finding their way into the bottle, then why shouldn’t it be? One reason is the cost, broadly, organic premiums can rise to as much as 89% for some produce. But one fact that’s sure to sway a few late adopters is the habitually lower sugar level of organic wines; the element in conventional wine that can lead to headaches.
On the other hand, while there may be more nutrients in organic wine the residual chemicals in conventional wine are not shown to be harmful to humans. So, while the full-scale adoption of organic farming still looks a long way off, we can continue to enjoy wine from both camps while doing our bit to support the more sustainable trend of organic wine production.
Pairing Organic Food with Organic Wine
Whether you’re going 100% organic with you food and wine, or merely dipping a toe in the pool of new organic wines, we have a delectable pairing for you to try at home. This Italian frittata of fresh veggies meets its summer dream in a vibrant organic orange wine from our online store. Perfect for mild autumn lunches, this authentically Umbrian wine is made in the most natural way with the native grape Grechetto and without technology.
Perhaps surprisingly, the proliferation of organic wines is rooted in Europe's traditional wine making regions; Italy, Spain and France have the lion’s share (75%) of global organic vineyards. Our online store stocks delicious organic wines from these three regions and beyond, so with our free next day delivery, why not try a bold Tuscan red with your next Sunday roast, or a vibrant Sicilian white alongside fresh fish or poultry?