Organic, biodynamic have little impact on wine lovers

Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:15am EDT
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Organic, biodynamic and sustainable are words being used to describe wines but the eco-sounding terms have little impact on wine lovers.

In a survey of 1,000 consumers by global consulting firm AlixParnters eco-friendly was rated the least important attribute for wines, while price topped the list.

Most European producers, who operate in a strictly regulated market, do not use organic or biodynamic on their labels because they say the paperwork is complicated and the fees for certification are onerous.

"Organic, biodynamic!" sneered Elisabetta Fagiuoli, the owner of Sono Montenidoli vineyards in Tuscany, in a recent interview. "Fads come and go, but culture remains."

Most California vintners use the term sustainable to describe their winemaking methods. Napa Valley's Charles Krug winery has earned seven organic certifications but it does not mention the achievements on its bottles.

But in Mendocino County's wine region, organically made wines are more frequently labeled. Jonathan Frey, the 56-year-old winemaker for Frey Vineyards, claims he started the region's first organic winery in 1980. His wines are USDA certified organic and he also makes biodynamic wines.

"We were around in the bad ol' days. Back then, organic had a counter-culture connation -- hippies eating brown rice and stuff," he said.

Bonterra Vineyards, also in the Mendocino region, produces both organic and biodynamic wines. According to its website biodynamics is "designed to promote and enhance biodiversity and biological activity in the soil." It also dictates when the grapes are harvested in relation to the moon's phrases.   Continued...

<p>A waiter serves a glass of red wine from Spain during a tasting session at Vinexpo Asia-Pacific, the International Wine and Spirits Exhibition for the Asia-Pacific region, in Hong Kong May 28, 2008. REUTERS/Victor Fraile</p>