Natural Wine… What is it?
What we call Natural Wines are wines made with the least possible use of chemicals, additives and technological procedures. That includes chemicals in the vineyard such as pesticides, as well as things like sulfur or any of the almost 200 allowed additives that are legally permitted in wine. For a wine to really be natural, the same philosophies must be followed in the vineyard and into the cellar.
To us Natural Wine is made of grape juice and little else.
What’s the difference between Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wines? Good Question! To be Natural Wine you must farm the grapes organically and/or biodynamically.
Organic grape growing means that no pesticides or chemicals are used in the vineyard. Ironically, however, often when organic is stated on a wine label, the wine is often less natural according to our definition. The complicated thing with organics is that there are many people really growing in the spirit of organics, who are not legally certified. That is because it costs a lot of money to become certified.
Organic grape growing for us is essential for Natural Wine. But that alone is not enough, because one can grow grapes organically, but remain free to add anything one wants to add during winemaking, and manipulate with technology as much as one wants, yet still retain the organic certification on the label. So we don’t focus on the certification as much as we do the integrity of the winemakers.
Biodynamic grape growing is a type of organic viticulture that uses special preparations of herbal sprays and composts, and they time their applications according to the lunar calendar. Biodynamics looks at the land as a complete living ecosystem, as a living being that needs biodiversity in order to be healthy. Biodynamic winemakers often also live and work in a farm, with animals, fruit trees, woods, and vines striving to be self-sufficient. The soil is not seen as the surface for production but rather is considered an organism in its own right, and preparations are used to enhance the micro-life in the soil. The soil is part of the context of lunar and cosmic rhythms.
The techniques of biodynamics date way back to the ancient ways of our ancestors, to a time before many technological manipulations and chemicals existed.
Many organic vineyards use some biodynamic tools, so there is often no clearcut line between organic and biodynamic. Biodynamic certification also costs money, so just as with organics many biodynamically prepared wines do not say so on the label.
So what is Natural Wine again?
The key aspects of what we consider to be a natural wine are:
• No synthetic molecules in the vines
• Plowing or other solutions to avoid chemical herbicides
• Use of indigenous yeast
• Handpicked grapes
• Low to no filtering
• Low to no sulfites
• Winemaking that respects the grapes
• No chaptalization (adding sugar)