Frequently Asked Questions

Interested in natural, organic, and/or sustainable wines but not sure where to begin? Look no further!

 

We understand that these special wines can be difficult to navigate when deciding on a selection.

 

Read through some of our frequently asked questions to help guide you through our wines, and if you are still having trouble, contact us below!

 

Happy Wine Drinking!

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Q: What is Natural Wine

 

A: Natural Wine is farmed organically (biodynamically, using permaculture or the like) and made (or rather transformed) without adding or removing anything in the cellar. No additives or processing aids are used, and ‘intervention’ in the naturally occurring fermentation process is kept to a minimum. As such neither fining nor (tight) filtration are used. The result is a living wine – wholesome and full of naturally occurring microbiology.

 

It is also important to note that there is no current definition of natural wines! France is one of the first countries to create an official natural wine certification, but it has not widely been adopted. 

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Q: Are there still sulfites in natural wine?

 

A: Yes! All wine contains sulfites.

 

The chemical compound is a natural byproduct of fermentation. Some winemakers add sulfites to their wines, however, to keep them fresher for longer.

 

Those extra sulfites are a point of contention in the natural wine world. Some winemakers add tiny quantities (up to 30 milligrams per liter) to help keep their wine stable after bottling. Others, however, are adamantly opposed to adding them. In 2000, celebrated natural winemaker Henri Milan lost almost his entire vintage when bottles and vats of his no-sulfur wines started re-fermenting.

 

 

Q: What is Biodynamic Wine?

 

A: Biodynamic wine is made with a set of farming practices that views the farm or vineyard as one solid organism. The ecosystem functions as a whole, with each portion of the farm or vineyard contributing to the next. The idea is to create a self-sustaining system.

 

Natural materials, soils, and composts are used to sustain the vineyard. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are forbidden for the sake of soil fertility. A range of animals from ducks to horses to sheep live on the soil and fertilize it, creating a rich, fertile environment for the vines to grow in. Biodynamic farming also seeks sustainability, or leaving the land in as good or better shape as they found it for future generations.

Q: What is Organic Wine?

 

A: The most basic definition of organic wine is wine made from organically farmed grapes. The standards for what constitutes “organic farming” vary from country to country, but generally excludes the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.


And then, there is the second phase of winemaking, fermentation of the grapes into wine. This is where it gets more confusing. There are a number of inputs that can be added to the fermentation process, but for organic certification, these ingredients must be specifically allowed and cannot exceed 5% of the total product.

 

Q: What do natural wines taste like?

 

A: Since these wines are unregulated, taste is going to vary dramatically. Generally speaking, natural wines are funkier, gamier, have yeastier characteristics, a cloudy appearance and often times have sediment floating around in the bottom of the bottle. A lot of the time their aroma is going to be far more yeasty than fruity, but of course because there are no standards – you may also find yourself with a clean and fruity natural wine as well.

 

Q: What is Orange Wine?

 

A: Orange wine is produced with skin contact of white grapes (hence the wine’s nickname “skin contact white.”)  Instead of gently pressing grapes and immediately removing the skins to leave clear juice behind, like in white winemaking, a winemaker looking to produce orange wine crushes white grapes and allows the skins and seeds to spend time with the juice.

 

Q: What is Sustainable Wine?

 

A: A sustainable wine means that the farming and winemaking practices of the vineyards are eco-friendly. To be certified as sustainable, wineries have an independent third party to analyze the vinification practices and see if they meet the required standards.

 

Some of the evaluation includes if their practices are environmentally stable while still producing high-quality wine. Sustainable vineyards and winery practices consist of conserving water, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and maintaining healthy soil while protecting the air and water quality. Also, they typically strengthen relationships with the community and employees to preserve local ecosystems and wildlife, educating those around them about their practices.

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Still have a question? Ask our wine expert Cathy! Fill out the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible!