Drink Green: Organic and Fair Trade Wines

4 years ago

I love to drink wine of all sorts and I’m open for wine tasting with friends anytime. I don’t ordinarily buy organic or Fair Trade wine, I’ve tried a few but our local stores don’t offer much of a selection. I’ve also seen wines that claim to be "ethically produced", whatever that means. I just figured fair trade and organic wine was merely greenwashing, just another marketing ploy. And what about the price? Isn’t the production of organic wine going to be more costly?

Image: isante_magazine via Flickr

 

Such questions led to me to email Mika Bulmash, the founder and president of of Wine for the World, a premium wine brand with a social mission. W4TW partners some of the most highly acclaimed winemakers in the US with emerging winemakers from developing nations to create high-quality, socially-ethical wines. Using wine as an instrument for professional and economic development, Mika's company strives to build bridges and open the US market to winemakers worldwide.

Organic Wine – Is it worth it?

With regards to the perceived high cost of these specially produced wines, Mika responded:

“Many Fair Trade and organic wines certainly are in the price points of budget-conscious consumers. Because they are 'niche' categories, stores may not carry the wines unless wine drinkers ask for them. But consumers often do not even know they exist, let alone which wines to ask for.  Keep in mind too that many of these brands are smaller players in the wine industry and cannot afford their own marketing arm and sales team, which would help them get to the store.”

Additionally, Mika pointed out that the Fair Trade, organic and ethical wine certifications let the consumers know how their wine is made:

“Organic wine tells you the wines are made without added, artificial chemicals – as a result, you are putting a cleaner product in your body. Fair Trade tells you that the wine is responsibly produced, and that some of the funds from the purchase go towards a project, like a playground.”

Overall, these wines are better for your health and environment and yes, they can be affordable, depending on the brand – just remember to ask for it. As my wine sipping friend Christine Hinkley Trice of OMG I so need a glass of wine or I'm gonna sell my kids™  says:

"From a consumer perspective, I think it's worth paying a little more for an organically produced or even a bio-dynamic wine. That said there are so many wineries that produce organic wines and adhere to strict organic farming practices and don't even market it."

As Christine of OMG I so need a glass of wine or I'm gonna sell my kids™ points out so many vineyards produce organic wine but are these farming practices more costly and do they raise the cost of the wine? I asked founder and president Wine for the World about this and here is what she had to say:

“The truth is, it depends on the vineyard and terroir. In the perfect conditions, organic grapes can mean completely un-adultered grapes with minimal, natural inputs. In that sense, it is less costly because the farms do not have to spray numerous times a year with the artificial pesticides and herbicides that some conventional vineyards use.

In other cases, it requires expensive, organic fertilizers. Grape yield can also be reduced when converting to organic techniques. This means two things – while the farmer may produce less tons of grapes per acre (making the wine more expensive), grape quality may improve, as the two are often considered inversely proportional (making better wine).”

Mika also mentioned that it can also be difficult for vineyards to stay organic if their neighbors aren’t thanks to water spill-off in addition to other variables -  the type of vines, climate and soil.  While organic certification does help consumers identify organically produced wine, numerous vineyards adhere to the standards of organic farming but lack certification. Best to do some wine homework (!) and learn for yourself.

Favorite Organic and Fair Trade Wine Recommendations

But where to start? Mika's recommendations include Reyneke wines that are biodynamic (holistic), and Paul Dolan and Frog’s Leap. Also, Wines from the World will be offering their own wines this fall and they are offering a limiting release through the end of May.  

Meanwhile, my pal, Christine Hinkley Trice, recommended Grgich Hills Estate and Nickel & Nickel.

Other fine selections include Badger Mountain Vineyard, Frey Wine and for a variety of organic and biodynamic wine try Flatiorn-Wines. You can check out the Organic Wine Review, a site that reviews organic wines, including price points.

Cheers!

~Sommer @greenmom

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