Let's Talk Organics
Organics - The Reason and the Practices
Organic wine generally refers to viticulture ensuring no pesticides or herbicides are sprayed on the vines or the soil. The Farm Hand wines are grown by the Grigoriou family, fourth generation wine growers, from almost one hundred acres of Organic Vineyards in the Monash Valley of South Australia. The moderate, dry climate with very low rainfall during autumn and fertile soils is perfectly suited to Organic Viticulture. The well-established vines (up to thirty years of age) are planted widely apart for airflow to minimise disease, pressure and minimal drip irrigation, all ensuring low yielding fruit with rich flavours and varietal expressiveness.
Organic Taste and Quality
Organic wines can have just as good if not better flavour and vibrancy because in the vineyard and the winery, you are replacing chemicals with labour and the natural environment. Organic vignerons need to care more about the vines and the vineyards; they protect it naturally from mildew and are more particular with harvest timings. In more general terms, they need to be paying more attention to their vineyard and resultant grapes.
There have been very good studies showing that overall, organic grapes tend to have lower yields, which gives you a better grape with more concentrated flavour and, thus, a better wine. Also there are many wine producers that don’t make a song and dance about their organic practices as they are not fully certified, but it means the quality of soil and vineyard has improved and that in turn means more concentrated fruit intensity and vibrancy.
Challenges Faced in Production of Organic Wines and how to Overcome Them
As mentioned before, the main difference in the Vineyard and production of these styles is the lack of tricks a vigneron has up their sleeves compared to traditional winemaking. There are no pesticides or herbicides to spray, and organic viticulture allows copper to be sprayed but in truth, an organic farmer is at the mercy of the elements and needs to be eternally vigilant of vine diseases such as powdery mildew and botrytis. Ensuring soil health is tantamount to vigorous vine growth and a happy vineyard.
The time of day grapes are harvested will ultimately influence the quality of the wine. White wine grapes are often harvested in the cool of the night to prevent oxidation while red wine grapes may be naturally allowed to warm up a little to allow full flavour development. Once harvested, the fruit must be quickly transported to the winery in clean, uncontaminated containers and avoiding contact with heat and oxygen.
Organic winemakers are unable to use the full range of materials available for conventional winemaking, so attention to hygiene and careful handling in the winery is paramount.
Small quantities of sulphur dioxide is acceptable and is mostly naturally occurring as a preserving and antioxidation agent. Yeast for fermentation may be obtained from commercial sources however, some winemakers prefer the wild yeast naturally present on the grapes. Larger populations of yeast are likely to be present on organically grown grapes than on grapes sprayed for pest and disease control.
To comply with ‘Vegan’ credentials, following fermentation wines are fined to clear and stabilise proteins, without the use of any animal, egg or milk products commonly used during conventional processes. Many substitutes can be found and used and all perform the same role equally. Or the other option is not to fine or filter the wine at all. Depending on the winemaker, it could be a case of minimal or no Preservative 220 (Sulphur Dioxide), are added before bottling.