To be or not to be, that is the question? Well nowadays it is anyway, a lot more than ever before. And with a huge organic living wave going on, this also transcends to wines.
As a business, we have not decided to only sell Organic or Biodynamic, and this is for a number of reasons. One of them being that we have found producers who although not organically farming in the fields, they are still extremely conscientious producers of wine. By this I mean that they will not add extra 'ingredients' to force their wine to taste the same each year in order to meet market demands.
We buy from all types of vineyards, and as always stated, we select carefully with plenty of knowledge on how they grow and produce their wines. These categories are:
Traditional wine (Non-Organic) can use chemicals like herbicides and fungicides in the vineyards. In the fields they spray every 2 weeks in order to fight disease on their vines. Some choose to spray less and only intervene when it is absolutely necessary and when the vines are most at risk, for example when there is moisture in the air causing mildew from intense heat and rain. This method is known as 'Lutte Raisonnée'.
Organic wine, or Bio as it is known in France, is very simply wine that is made from organically grown grapes.
To comply with organic farming, vineyard owners must grow their grapes without the use of chemical fertilizers, chemical weedkillers, pesticides or chemical fungicides. A bottle of wine from an organic vineyard will carry the AB logo awarded by the French Agricultural Ministry.
The organic vineyard is seen as an integrated system, with the end product reflecting the local terroir - the environmental conditions like hydrology, soil and micro-climate as well as traditional processing practices. All aspects of organic viticulture such as canopy, soil, pest and disease control are managed to maximise the quality and the health of the grapes.
The EU organic logo can only be used for organic wines produced according EU rules for grape production and winemaking.
They practice the same methods as Organic farmers, however, biodynamic agriculture uses management practices that are holistic, ecological and ethical. To make it less confusing - "The farmer seeks to enhance and support the forces of nature that lead to healthy crops, and rejects farm management practices that damage the environment, soil plant, animal or human health". The prime objective is always to encourage healthy conditions for life": soil fertility, plant and animal health, and product quality. Some biodynamic farmers use an astronomical calendar to help assess optimum times for sowing, planting etc.
The work and practices that go into sustaining a Biodynamic vineyard is huge, and attention to detail is second to none, which is why these wines tend to carry a bigger price tag.
The one thing that all of our chosen vineyards have in common, is that they all know how to make great wine - really really well! Their methods may be different, but their passion and expertise shines through in all of them. Like anything though, price is dependent on a number of factors when it comes to production, costs of harvesting, materials and physical time all play a huge part.
So based on the above, we could solely choose to buy from organic only vineyards. However, we feel that the vineyards that we work with are all incredible winemakers. We also want to give our customers more choice. Our non organic vineyards make extremely good wines, as do our organic/biodynamic. Just because a wine is from an organic vineyard does not mean that it well necessarily be nice, that outcome depends on the abilities of the person making the wine.