With barely 3% of Sonoma County third party certified organic or biodynamic, support the wineries that are doing the right thing and not greenwashing their practices. ……“While wine growers have generously funded and aggressively marketed their Sonoma Certified Sustainable program, we have seen that lapses in program enforcement have led to using banned toxins in wines bottled with the program’s little green labels,” she added. “The standard is not enforced by federal law.”
Organically Sonoma Launches: New Website to Help Consumers Find Fine and Everyday Wines from Sonoma’s Organic Vines
Enabling consumers to “Drink Well” after Dry January and to launch their own Personal Green New Deal for Wine
Wine Country Geographic today announced the launch of OrganicallySonoma.com, a new website designed to help consumers and wine professionals find estate wines from certified organic vines from Sonoma’s leading vintners.
“We hope consumers and the wine industry will make 2020 the year to “Drink Well,’” said Pam Strayer, Wine Country Geographic founder and publisher as well as the author of the Organically Sonoma site.
“Dry January is over. With this new site, consumers now have new and better tools to help them find the wines that fit their eco friendly and health conscious lifestyles. You could call it a personal Green New Deal for wine.”
“In addition to meeting consumers’ concerns about pesticides in wine, organically grown wines also offer a more climate friendly solution,” Strayer said. “The latest scientific study shows that organic or biodynamic vineyards put 9-13 percent more carbon back into the soil than conventional or sustainable wine,” she said.
“While we can all appreciate that the sustainable wine movement may be helping the overall wine industry to pivot to better farming in the long term, sustainable wine guidelines do not provide the pesticide restrictions that meet consumer concerns about health,” Strayer continued. “Organic growers and vintners offer much safer alternatives for people, wildlife, birds, bees and planet.”
Testing in the U.S. and France has found that conventional and sustainable wines contain up to 500-1000 percent more glyphosate and copper residues than organically grown wines. “In addition, consumers should be aware that many conventional and sustainable wines are grown with herbicide and fungicides that contain unlisted ingredients: arsenic, heavy metal and pesticide residues,” she said.
GIVING VOICE TO SONOMA’S ORGANIC SIDE
“Voices from the organic side of Sonoma’s wine industry have been largely unheard,” said Strayer.
“There are 47 estate wineries with certified organic vines in the county,” she said, “and many are among the finest producers—with national and international reputations.”
All the organically grown wines from Sonoma do contain sulfites, as do most fine wines from organic or other vines around the globe.
While 20 of the 47 wineries with organic estate vines are 100% organic within brand, 27 are not. “The site helps consumers identify choices on a wine by wine basis,” Strayer said. “Brands may have organic estates but then purchase grapes for other wines from conventional or sustainable growers. Organically Sonoma lists only the wines from certified organic vines.”
WINE QUALITY HIGH
“Organic grape growers are extremely attentive to their vines,” Strayer said, “and that results in better grapes and high quality winemaking in the hands of fine winemakers. Many of the organically grown wines in Sonoma get scores from top critics (like Wine Advocate and Antonio Galloni’s Vinuous) of 90-95 points. Consumers can have their cake and eat it, too—buying organically grown wines from fine wine producers.”
Sonoma’s organic growers mirror the wide variety of grapes Sonoma is famous for—Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel are the top three varieties produced.
ORGANIC VINEYARDS ARE 3% OF SONOMA COUNTY’S VINES
Sonoma County has approximately 1,870 acres of certified organic or biodynamic vines, representing 3% of the county’s 59,193 planted vineyard acres.
Of these,1,491 acres are owned by estate wineries. Growers certify an additional 379 acres of organic or biodynamic vines.
SONOMA’S LEADERSHIP ROLE IN BIODYNAMICS
Sonoma County has 10 biodynamic estate producers and three biodynamic growers. “It’s the county with the largest number of biodynamic wineries and growers in the country,” Strayer said. (Other regions – Oregon and Mendocino County – have more acreage, but fewer wineries). The county’s total biodynamic acreage is 426 acres, which represents 21% of the certified organic acreage.
Three of Sonoma’s biggest organic vineyard owners are both organic and biodynamic.
A WIN WIN: CONSUMERS IN THE KNOW CAN DRINK THE BEST WINES AND AVOID PESTICIDES
“According to the California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation, in 2017 Sonoma growers and vintners used 74,815 pounds of glyphosate on wine grape vines. Glyphosate is the leading ingredient in Roundup,” she said, “which we now know is a carcinogen.”
“While seven cities and the county of Sonoma have all voted to ban glyphosate from public spaces, parks and schools, Sonoma’s growers continue to pour thousands of pounds of Roundup on to the soil,” she added.
Unlike food, organically grown wines cost no more than other wines.
ORGANIC AND BIODYNAMIC STANDARDS STRICTER AND BETTER ENFORCED
“We know from the wine industry’s own market research that 43% of consumers think sustainable means organic,” Strayer said. “It’s time for consumers to know the facts. Almost all of Sonoma’s sustainable growers, according to their pesticide use reports, use agricultural chemicals that may contain bird and bee toxins, carcinogens, developmental and reproductive toxins and other chemicals of concern.”
According to state statistics, in 2017 Sonoma County’s growers applied 9,751 pounds of one fungicide, boscalid (a bird and bee toxin), on grape vines. “At a time of decreasing biodiversity and ecological imbalance, consumers should know they can support growers and wineries that promote life,” she said.
Enforcement is another issue.
“While wine growers have generously funded and aggressively marketed their Sonoma Certified Sustainable program, we have seen that lapses in program enforcement have led to using banned toxins in wines bottled with the program’s little green labels,” she added. “The standard is not enforced by federal law.”
ORGANIC IS A GROWING TREND AND ESPECIALLY AMONG MILLENNIALS
The organically grown wine category has expanded rapidly in Europe, where approximately 10% of vineyards in Spain, Italy and France are either certified or in transition to organic certification. Experts predict that the organic wine market in the EU will increase dramatically by 2022.
“Sonoma’s organic growers are definitely in the vanguard of this movement and have made tremendous strides, thanks to the vineyard management leadership over decades of dedicated experts like Phil Coturri, Amigo Bob Cantisano and of committed wineries who care,” Strayer said. “Now consumers can finally see each and every producer and the wines they make from organic vines.”
A subscription to OrganicallySonoma.com costs $25 a year and gives readers access to:
• In depth producer profiles on 47 estate wineries with certified organic vines in Sonoma
• Lists of wines from certified vines: 250+ wines (from $20-$250) and tasting notes on selected wines
• A list of 20 everyday wines (under $25)
NEWS AND ARTICLES
• News on selected wines, producers, trends. dining, travel and more
TASTING AND TOURING
• Info on dozens of great tasting and touring destinations
• Discounts on wine, shipping and two for one tastings at participating wineries.
Visitors can check out the new website at http://www.organicallysonoma.com.
Wine Country Geographic also offers services including wine buying consults, trip planning, and tour guide services to help consumers and the food industry explore, try and buy organically grown wines. It receives no sponsorship or advertising revenue from wineries.