Special to Food Nation Radio Network
Biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon from Frey Vineyards –
America’s First Organic and Biodynamic Winery
Why Should You Drink Organic Wines?
Great tasting organic wines – why would you drink anything else?
All wine should be organic. Period.
Why is this even a discussion?
When did consumers ever say, “Please make my wine with grapes that have toxic pesticides, toxic herbicides. Oh, and please use GMO yeast, add 5 times the sulfites and a lot of extra sugar.”
Why should health conscious wine drinkers feel like they are on a quest for the Holy Grail just to find the organic wine section of their local store?
Madness. But things are changing.
6 Reasons to Drink Organic Wine
In addition to feeling good about making your own informed decisions, (rather than following the multi billion dollar advertising mantras of “the chemicals and GMOs aren’t that bad), here are six reasons to drink organic wine in 2020.
1. No Synthetic Additives
You don’t have to worry about the grapes being grown in toxic pesticides and herbicides (No matter how safe the chemical companies say they are). The gorgeous color is the real color- no dyes allowed like Mega Purple. The Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen List” cites non-organic grapes as the #6 produce with the most pesticide residue. .
2. No GMOs
Worried about the effects of GMOs in your wine? Rest easy. There are none here. If you have been listening to Food Nation Radio for any time at all, you pretty much know what we think of GMOs. If not feel free to listen here.
3. No Added Sulfites
Sulfites are an inclusive term for Sulfur Dioxide (SO2 – all that high school chemistry is coming back now?) and are used in wine and other foods as a preservative. There is a minute amount of sulfite in the skin of the grape, but some winemakers add heaps of it to increase the shelf life.
Some people have sulfite sensitivity and the added sulfites can cause mild to severe reactions with breathing difficulties, hives and allergy-like symptoms.
4. Less Sugar
Americans are addicted to processed and other sugars, but let’s keep them out of the wine, please! Grapes contain natural sugar which gives them that just right taste. Some winemakers add sugar (sometimes lots of sugar) to make the taste sweeter. Much of our sugar comes from sugar beets and are GMO. Every culture is different. One Filipino winemaker I know attributes his major market share to making the sweetest wine in the country – adding tons of sugar, of course. Too much sugar is bad for you, and we all know that to some degree. In addition, not to be thrown in the wine snob category – but sugary wine should be called grape juice.
5. Producing Organic Wine is Better for the People and The Planet.
Doing Good for the Planet. Organic production methods do great things. Natural cultivation practices build great soil. Organic vines tend to need less water, since the soil is healthier. Organic farming produces less CO2 emissions. Definitely better for the planet.
Doing Good for the People. The dirty secret about non organic farming is that it is extremely dangerous for the workers – the people who plant, grow, harvest and produce the wine. In an organic operation, they are not exposed to dangerous pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other terrible chemicals. They don’t breathe in toxic dust, or absorb dangerous chemicals through their hands, feet or skin. There is no dangerous chemical spraying to drift over to them (and the neighboring vineyard) and no chemical runoff either.
6. Organic Wine Tastes Better.
You will get wine drinkers on both sides of this argument. You can find articles on both sides as well, although the tide seems to be on the “taste better” side. The website Vinepair posted an article, No, Organic Wine Doesn’t Actually Taste Better in March 2017. Their follow up post one month later decided that Study FindsOrganic Wine Actually Does Taste Better.
USDA Certified Organic wine tastes better to us and our friends. Our advice to you is to have fun and do your own tasting.
So What Makes Wine Organic Anyway?
There are two phases of winemaking – growing the grapes and then the production phase: fermenting the grapes into wine. Both of these processes have to be organic to produce organic wine.
To be “Certified Organic” a wine must meet the standard of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program’s standards in both farming and production. As an example, once the winemaking (vinification) begins, even the yeast must be organic.These are serious standards.
The USDA also offers a “made with organic grapes” label, which is similar but less stringent, permitting some adding of sulfites and use of non organic yeast. As a purist, don’t go with this one.
What Is Biodynamics?
Some Vineyards (not many) are “Certified Organic” and Biodynamic. They are not the same, but they go together well.
Biodynamics is deeper than organic -it heals the land. A biodynamic winery owner is a steward of the land and uses farming practices that care for the soil and the groundwater. They treat the vineyard as part of the whole ecosystem. Biodynamics uses a holistic and ethical approach to farming and food. Biodynamics encourages more than sustainability it encourages regenerative agriculture. Biodynamics vineyard owners have a reverence for the land, the agriculture, the people and the process.
If you can find an organic and biodynamic wine – that is a wine to try.
Frey Vineyards- Organic Winemaking Done Right.
As an example of organic winemaking done right, we point to Frey Vineyards – the first organic and biodynamic vineyard in the U.S.
Full disclosure, Food Nation Radio loves Frey Wines for all occasions – (including cooking).
But more than that, we are in awe of the fact of how much their family cares for and nurtures their vineyard. They know and love their craft, and work with their community to spread organic and biodynamic wine growing practices.
Located in Mendocino County , California, this third generation family owned and family operated vineyard has been making organic wine for 40 years – true pioneers in the industry.
To feel their passion (and to learn more about organic and biodynamic wine growing than you thought possible), visit their website ( and check out the honeybees).
If you want great tasting organic wine from passionate caring vineyard owners, see how they talk about wine making the right way.
The most exciting aspect of Biodynamic winemaking for us is the prohibition of cultured yeast and malolactic bacteria. This preserves and protects the terroir (the subtle flavors of the vineyard site and vintage). Acid and sugar adjustments are also prohibited, upholding the authenticity of the wine as a true expression of the fruit and farm. Addition of yeast nutrients is discouraged. Because the wines are not allowed to be manipulated to reach certain flavor profiles, each batch is specific to site and vintage. This results in a portfolio of wines that are unique, delicious and mirror the richness and beauty of our land.
Enjoy Life – Drink Organic Wine
Have a great glass of organic wine and enjoy life – free chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and all things that don’t belong in your wine anymore.
As you sip your wine, you can feel more in touch with the world knowing the wine was produced lovingly from organic grapes grown in healthy soil – and this glass was made just for you.
PS – We buy Frey Wines locally but these days you might want them shipped to your door.