Where Is Natural Wine Being Made Today?
If you are a wine grower or lover, and you haven’t heard of the natural wine movement, it’s time to pay attention. As a wine grower, it is important to understand what natural wine is, where it comes from, and why it is becoming so popular. If you’re a fan of wine, and especially if you’re a fan of organic growing and eating as well, you’ll definitely want to explore the virtues of natural wine.
What Is Natural Wine?
Natural wine is a natural outcropping of people’s desires to move back towards organic, all-natural products, as free as possible from preservatives, processing chemicals, and other unhealthy, undesirable ingredients. A natural wine is simply one that follows natural standards in its creation.
To make a natural wine, you must start as you would grow any organic fruit, with no insecticides, herbicides, or artificial fertilizers anywhere near the grape vines. Some natural wine growers eschew the use of tractors for horses, in order to prevent compacting the dirt and allowing more organisms to grow in the soil that the vines use to draw sustenance from.
Natural wine grapes should also be picked by hand to preserve their natural yeasts and to keep the bunches intact, rather than having them processed through a mechanical harvesting machine.
When fermenting the grapes, a natural wine should not make use of commercial yeasts, or any chemicals, sugars, or enzymes. It is this natural yeast process that many natural wine experts think give natural wines their compelling aroma.
Natural wines are also made without filtration, which strips away some of the natural complexity of the wine.
Where Does Natural Wine Come From?
It will likely come as no surprise that the natural wine movement first gained momentum in France and Italy, and have even been the main staple at several wine bars in Europe. The first real movement towards natural wine was noted in central France in the 1980s to great critical acclaim.
Since then, word has slowly and quietly spread about this new, yet old way of enjoying wine. Today, natural wines can be found almost anywhere, including Australia and throughout the United States, in bars from New York to San Francisco.
Sulfur and Natural Wine
There is some debate as to whether natural wines can contain sulfur. Traditionally, winemakers dip harvested grapes in sulfur to kill off natural yeasts that may create risk when they get into the winery. However, preserving the natural yeast is somewhat the point of natural wines, so some purists say no adding sulfur.
Others say that since sulfur dioxide is naturally released when wine is made, it is technically a naturally occurring substance in the wine and therefore, adding sulfur to the bottle to help preserve the wine does not affect its “natural” character. If a natural winemaker does add sulfur as a preservative, it will usually be in very low amounts.
There are no hard and fast rules to natural wine making, other than being as true to the natural winemaking process as possible, so as the movement grows, different philosophies may develop regarding what should be classified as natural wine.
Natural Wine Today
If you’re first learning about natural wine, it’s not too late to get in on the movement, either as a grower or wine enthusiast. Even though the concept of natural wine and its proponents have been around for dozens of years, the movement is relatively new and still growing.
In fact, it’s a perfect time to get into natural wines, so if you’re a wine aficionado, head to your favorite wine bar and find out what natural wines they have on offer today!