Is Organic wine better?
Here’s what I learned during our last visit to the winery where RedPuro and Pindal Wines are produced. This winery is called Vinecol, a play in the words "Viñas Ecologicas" (Ecological Vines). The Dessel Family has produced organically for over 10 years, they are among the few wineries in Argentina that are certified Organic and Fair Trade. During our tour of the winery we learn how much extra work and resources are put into wines produced organically.
According to the research made by David Suzuki Foundation wineries that produce certified organic wine cannot use toxic pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers to grow grapes. An organic vineyard will fertilize crops with compost, compost teas, green manure and cover crops. Instead of herbicides, they rely on mechanical weeding, mowing around the vines, mulching and companion planting. To avoid the use of insecticides to control cutworms, organic practices include grazing chickens under the vines or picking cutworms off the leaves one by one.
Conventional wines are born from vineyards that may or may not use chemical based pesticides on their vines. It’s also common practice for conventional wines to include GMO yeast and sulfites. Certified organic wine doesn't use any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) either. GMO yeast for example, is allowed in conventional wines. And when it comes to other additives, certified organic wines don't contain sulphites. However, wine labelled "Made with organically grown grapes" may have sulphur dioxide. The latter might also be processed using the same equipment and in the same facility as conventional wine.
For a food or beverage to be USDA Certified Organic it has to be grown free of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and other potentially harmful chemicals. With wine, though, the distinction of organic isn’t as clear cut as you might think.
Sulfites are not your worst enemy
According to this article by IntoWine.com, “Worries over sulfites tend to drown out the known fact that conventional grapes are among the most heavily sprayed of all agricultural crops. Typically, as many as 18 different chemicals are used on non-organically grown grape crops during their growing cycle.”
Pesticides can negatively impact our health – linked to everything from mild nausea to cancer. From an environmental perspective, pesticides “damage agricultural land by harming beneficial insect species, soil microorganisms, and worms which naturally limit pest populations and maintain soil health” among other harmful effects on the plant itself.
Unless you’re sensitive to sulfites, choosing organically grown over certified organic wine will eliminate the pesticides without sacrificing taste.