Appeal of organic products seeps into wine industry

Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:15am EDT
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The popularity of farm-to-table restaurants and organic produce is seeping into the wine industry as more producers adopt green practices.

But their motives for making organic, sustainable and biodynamic wine may be more personal than business, although the practices also improve the quality of the wines.

"Most of the wineries are family-owned businesses and they saw this as a better way to farm. They wanted to pass on healthier farms and businesses to the next generation," said Gladys Horiuchi, a spokeswoman for the California Wine Institute.

She added that more than two-thirds of California's acreage and production is certified as sustainable.

Chris Millard, winemaker for Napa's Newton Vineyards, famed for its unfiltered Chardonnays, said it is very expensive to be organic.

"We are not organic. We are not biodynamic. We're not green. We're sustainable," he said. "And by that I mean that we encompass the whole business of making wine. Being sustainable in the vineyard and taking care of the land."

For Millard sustainable means taking care of the land, and the people who grow the grapes and make the wine, and earning enough to stay in business.

Organic vines are grown without pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Each country has different criteria for certification and some wineries are organic, but red tape and additional costs, inhibit them from filing for certification.   Continued...

Grass growing between rows of Merlot grapes is mowed at a vineyard near Galt, California April 30, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith