This is the official ‘hate me’ post: Why organic/biodynamic/green wine is beyond dumb.
Understand I have a great deal of sympathy with organic wineries. In general I find organically produced wines are much less likely to provoke allergies, and are often unique and tasty. However I’m impervious to environmental guilt. The entire green movement is drenched in quasi-religious self-mortification, which I instinctively distrust and dislike.
Drinking wine, particularly modern wine, is probably as evil a habit as you can acquire if your goal is social justice, or environmental purity. The truth is, unless you live in rural France, Italy or Spain, (and even there, it’s problematic) drinking wine, has more in common with racing a Porsche, than it does with eco-purity.
Let’s start with California. ‘Green’ and ‘Organic’ wines there are NOT limited in their irrigation (All of France and most of Italy grow ‘dry’ as in unirrigated wine.) California and a healthy chunk of Washington particularly the Columbia Valley all irrigate wildly with catastrophic (e.g. salination and the end of Salmon respectively) and measurable environmental effects.
Admittedly lowering the herbicide/pesticide load on the Salinas, Napa and Sonoma River is a good idea, but the rest of organic cultivation is far from environmentally friendly. Particularly, the shipping of wine in heavy bottles, with cork (!) stoppers around the world is less than friendly. What’s more the acquisitive greed on display by vintners and consumers is hard to equate with social justice.
Then there are the other wine maker techniques, so common throughout California:
– watering wine back (i.e ‘adjusting’ the alcohol)
– de-alking wine (i.e. having made the wine blowsy and over-ripe, removing excess alcohol)
– adding sugars and tannins and acids to try to balance the product
While I have some (little) faith in organic wines from Italy and France, until the wineries start to grow their vines on marginal properties, and stop watering the vines the term ‘organic’ should be exchanged for ‘Hey, C’mere Sucker!’