Wines from Healthy Vines: Biodynamic Wines Honor the Land and Taste Great, Too

By Santisi, Jennifer | E Magazine, January-February 2013 | Go to article overview

Wines from Healthy Vines: Biodynamic Wines Honor the Land and Taste Great, Too


Santisi, Jennifer, E Magazine


Conventionally grown grapes carry so many pesticides that they landed at number seven on a list of most-pesticide-laden produce from the Environmental Working Group. Grapes are sprayed with high levels of insecticide to ward off pests. Vineyards then turn those grapes into urine, bringing those pesticide residues into our drinking glasses.

A study in 2008 by Pesticide Action Network Europe found that 100% of conventional wines contained pesticides, with as many as 10 different pesticides per bottle. Twenty-four contaminants total were found, including five classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or endocrine-disrupting by the European Union. Organic and biodynamic wines come without these chemical burdens.

Reading Labels

Wines bearing a 100% USDA organic label are made from 100% organically grown ingredients. These wines contain only natural sulfites, or sulfur dioxide, in less than 100 parts per million (ppm). Other wines with a USDA organic label are made with 95% organically grown ingredients, with the same sulfite requirements. Labels indicating "made with organic grapes" or "made with organic ingredients" must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. These wines can have artificial sulfites added, but must not contain more than 100 ppm. Wines that go above and beyond USDA organic certification can be certified Biodynamic[R].

In 1928, Demeter International formed in Europe to promote biodynamic farming. This farming method approaches the farm as a self-sustaining ecosystem. Demeter's wine processing standard focuses on minimizing the manipulation of ingredients to allow for the identity of biodynamic ingredients to come through. In the U.S., notes Elizabeth Candelario, marketing director for Demeter USA (www.demeter-usa.org), "almost all biodynamic vineyards are in California and Oregon."

Animal Friendly

Biodynamic farmers not only avoid synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, but set aside a minimum of 10% of their acreage to biodiversity to promote natural predator-prey relationships to help control pests naturally. …

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