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Wine Talk: Sterling Vineyards

For $5 a bottle, you're not going to find a better wine made with organic grapes than Sterling Vineyard's Cabernet Sauvignon. And this is no Two Buck Chuck of organic wine: it's genuinely delicious. They could get away with charging more, so stockpile it before they figure that out.


Some online retailers are selling the red wine cab for much more, but Trader Joe's once again comes to the rescue with amazing prices. The price and the taste make it a great introduction for people making their first foray into organic wine. This wine is fairly complex but not too heavy, with a bit of spice followed by some deep sweetness: more burnt caramel than fruit.

The cabernet is the star of Sterling Vineyard's three-label "Made with Organic Grapes" line, the other two being Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (which is also quite good). The winery is careful with their wording because organic grapes do not equal organic wine. According to the USDA and National Organic Program, the process of adding sulfites to a wine disqualifies it from carrying the USDA organic seal. It also must be noted that they do not grow organically on their own property. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though – many wineries do not.

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From the Organic Authority Files


Both Sterling and the vineyards that supply the organic grapes, Guinness McFadden, are located in Mendocino County, which has become California's hotbed of organic winemaking. Sterling Vineyards still mostly makes conventional wines – they started in an era where the general public wasn't too worried about pesticides – but this venture into the organic world can be read as a business experiment.

It hasn't been so universally successful that they're ready to move entirely to organic grapes. That part is probably ultimately up to the consumer. But it is still a step in the earth-friendly direction, and can be applauded.

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