organic wine, organic vineyardEver since man discovered the luxurious taste of fermented fruit, wine has been a prized commodity. It has also proved to have many health benefits:

  • Consumed in moderation, white wine can improve lung function.

  • Drinking a modest amount of red wine (no more than one glass per day) increases cardiac output and arterial elasticity.

  • Drinking even one glass of red wine a week may reduce the risk of senility or Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Some studies show wine helps eradicate the bacteria that cause peptic ulcers.

  • Note: Pregnant women should avoid consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Over the last few decades, the push for more responsible, sustainable farming practices, which reject the use of synthetic soil nutrients and pesticides, has extended to grape-growing and wine production. By choosing wines produced from organically grown grapes, you support agricultural communities that refuse to pollute soil and water supplies. Instead, organic growers focus on prevention when it comes to pest control: continuous monitoring of crops, maintaining vine strength, increasing microbial activity in soil, growing weed-fighting and flowering plants that attract birds and insects, and using beneficial insects like ladybugs and hoverflies to consume unwanted predators.

As for organic wine production, use of sulfites-compounds that control bacterial growth and ensure stability-are a key issue. Winemakers have added sulfites for centuries because wine is extremely fragile without them, but an organic wine that carries the “organic” label must be made from 100% certified organic grapes and contain no added sulfites.

“The exception is sulfur dioxide-the simplest form of sulfite and a natural byproduct of the fermentation process,” says organic wine expert Bruno P. Allaire, president of Dynamic Imports Corp. in Santa Monica, California. “The organic winemaker may only add up to 100 parts per million-no more. All of the other additives are still forbidden,” he tells OrganicAuthority.com.