This post was sponsored by the awesome folks at Snoqualmie, who make accessible organic wine. Products featured on Feed Me Phoebe are few and far between, and as with all opinions on this site, I only give my endorsement when genuine.
I’m taking a little break today from this month’s healthy hydration series to talk about something that’s a little bit more fun and hedonistic than good ole H2O: WINE.
Ever since my long, arduous month of detox, I’ve been paying a lot more attention to the quantity and quality of my vices. And one area of better boozing I’ve been particularly interested in is the new and growing world of organic wines. I’ve not only been trying to drink better wines, but also cleaner wines that are responsibly made.
Organic wines have been cropping up more and more. Last year, I shared some of my favorites that are under $30. But this year, in honor of Earth Day, I wanted to better understand the impact of sustainable wine practices on the environment. So I chatted with Joy Andersen, who has been a pioneer in the modern-day Washington wine industry as head winemaker for Snoqualmie, a vineyard that’s been committed to organic practices for the last 30 years.
There’s a growing understanding of the benefits of buying organic produce. But I think far fewer people apply those same rules to what they put in their wine glass.
“Winemaking with organic grapes requires additional attention and hands-on methods as compared to conventional growing,” said Joy when I asked her what the main argument is for buying organic wine. “I think this ‘extra’ care pays off in better wine quality. Plus, it’s beneficial to one’s own health and the health of the planet.”
As part of their longtime commitment to maintaining the natural quality of the Northwest, Snoqualmie uses farming practices that support and maintain the long-term health of the soil, vines and surrounding landscapes, ensuring they will continue to provide for future generations. All Snoqualmie corks and labels are certified sustainable by the Rainforest Alliance and the FSC. They also recently started using lightweight glass and were able to reduce their carbon emissions by 13 percent.
I’ll admit that I don’t have the most sophisticated palette for wine. I rely on Charlie for that. So I asked Joy if there’s actually any difference in taste. Can you tell between organic and conventional wines the same way as you can a farmer’s market tomato in July versus a conventional grocery store version in January?
Maybe not to that extent. But because there are fewer tools and materials approved for use in organically grown wines, they tend to have a “purer, fresher, expression of varietal fruit characteristics,” according to Joy. They also might have slightly higher acid levels by design in an effort to aid in protecting the wines from microbiological spoilage.
In terms of finding your way to some sustainable bottles other than Snoqualmie, the back label is your best source of information for how a wine is made. There are a few different certifications to look for. Of course there’s certified organic. But a lot of smaller vineyards and wine makers won’t be able to afford official certification, so it’s important to read the back of the label where some will explain cultivation and biodynamic processes. Two other things to look for are SIP certification, which speaks to sustainability, and Demeter, which is the main marker for biodynamic wines.
Biodynamic wines have no added sulfites, sugar or other additives. You can also safely assume they’re organic, even if they don’t have the certification. It means that the vineyard is harvested sustainably and according to the lunar calendar. Usually, biodynamic vineyards also have a working farm nearby, as the wine production is weaved into the overall sustainability of the operation as a whole.
To celebrate Earth Day (and Feed Me Phoebe’s 3rd birthday!), I hope you’ll join me in a virtual toast with a glass of wine that’s better for your body and the environment. Let me know your favorite “green” drink – be it organic wine or a smoothie – in the comments!
This post was sponsored by the awesome folks at Snoqualmie. Products featured on Feed Me Phoebe are few and far between, and as with all opinions on this site, I only give my endorsement when genuine.