I am pleased to report that I have been featured as a guest writer on a friends' blog that focuses on the wines of this lovely region - The Oregon Wine Blog. When Jason and I were down in Jacksonville visiting House Alive, we stopped in at a local wine cellar, picked up a bottle of wine, and eventually I wrote up a nice review. If you have a few minutes check it out - support another amazing blog out there!
I thought that I'd put together a simple bit explaining what makes a wine organic. Often in liquor stores (and more often in food co-ops) we will see areas designated "organic wine," but the term "organic" is often so overused that it often becomes meaningless beyond green packaging and Pollanesque supermarket pastoral. I will admit that I have not really spent time figuring it out (I generally go for local first, organic second when it comes to wine).
For starters, there needs to be an acknowledgment that along with confusion around what it means to be "organic" in our supermarkets, each country in the world has a different standard. This is important to think about when dealing with wine seeing as so much of the wine in this country is imported (other food as well). What is agreed upon across the board is that the way the grapes are grown is very important. There should be no pesticides or chemicals and all other methods of growing need to be earth-friendly.
Where things start to become hazy is the position on sulfites. Sulfites are a naturally-occurring product of fermentation, and an excellent wine preservative. However, because many people are allergic to them, in order to be considered an organic wine there can be no added sulfites. This is the US standard, so if you have a sulfite allergy be sure that the organic wine you are about to drink is domestic. That said, there is no such thing as a completely sulfite-free wine.
At Semi-Urban Homesteader (as stated earlier) we aim to make our purchases from local businesses first, organic businesses second. With fresh meats and produce we find that the two are the same, but with wine this is not always the case. Our choice is to keep money local, support family businesses, and avoid using oil through shorter shipping routes. We count ourselves lucky that when it comes to wine we are able to enjoy the bounty of the Willamette Valley - a sentiment our friends at The Oregon Wine Blog share with us!