Organic Wine Making
Everywhere in the world and organic wine is a wine made with grapes produced using organic methods and eschewing chemical fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. In the United States an organic wine meets these requirements, but also must not contain added sulfites. For this reason, we only have “organically grown” wines since wine will quickly spoil if sulfites are not added during the wine making process.
Grape farmers are actually some of the leading proponents of organic agriculture since it has been shown that vineyards are much healthier, workers are much happier, and the wine is much better when these methods are used. There are many creative ways to grow organic grapes, and farmers are making great strides in learning as we return to the ways of our ancestors.
Organic Grape Farming starts with using compost, algae and manure for fertilizer. Cover crops such as vetch, legumes, and lavender are planted for soil improvement. Some vineyards let sheep wander through the vines eating weeds and grass and depositing fertilizer as they go. Many farmers are mowing the weeds when needed and leaving them to decompose and make organic fertilizer.
Insects can also be controlled by planting cover crops since the insects would rather eat them that grape leaves. Farmers are attracting bats, birds that like bugs instead of grapes. If an insect problem gets too bad, there is an organic product called Safer soap which can be sprayed and will kill insects and not harm the environment. Some farmers are releasing lady bugs in their vineyards to eat the insects, and, of course, bring them good luck. Another tactic is to let adjoining parcels grow wild which provides a home for wildlife that eat the bugs. Check out this post for more information on getting rid of pests in your vineyard.
Farmers are finding that the use of organic fertilizer and cover crops which turn into decaying plant material make the soil very healthy so it is not susceptible to disease. Botrytis, a fungus that causes rot can be prevented by opening up the vine canopy to light and air. Powder mildew can be controlled by walking through the vineyard and pulling off the infected leaves.
Organic Grown Grapes is definitely the wave of the future since it produces much healthier grapes, and the cost of extra labor is offset by savings in chemicals. Best of all, our environment is way better without the harsh chemicals we have used for years.