In my last post regarding my organic wine choices, I discussed my main reason for drinking organic wine — it’s tasty! — which is admittedly a fairly subjective rationale. So, in today’s post I’m going to get a little more objective about why I choose organic wine.
Reason #2 – Organic Farming Preserves Future Vintages
Farmers that choose to grow their vines without the use of industrial compounds, such as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and chemical fertilizers are ensuring that their vines and soils are capable of growing quality grapes in future years. As you can tell from my last post, my number one requirement for drinking any wine is simply whether or not the wine is good. Taste and quality are always going to be my top requirements when evaluating a wine. I choose organically farmed wines because organic farming will enable these vineyards to continue producing wines of excellent taste and quality for many vintages to come.
This seems like a counterintuitive statement, given that chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers are applied to plants for the stated purpose of improving health, curing diseases, and preventing damage from pests. If these chemicals are supposed to improve the cultivation of the grapevines, how can they be detrimental? There are several reasons that industrial chemicals are bad for grapevines, even though they are applied for allegedly beneficial purposes.
First, there is no way to target the application of these industrial chemicals. Pesticide that is sprayed to kill insects and other pests does not just affect the pests; it enters the soil and water, and can also enter the vine itself through its roots and also through the leaves and unripe grapes. The same can be said about herbicides and fungicides; they affect not only the insects and mildews, but also the fruit, plants, and soils.
Second, most of these industrial chemicals do not quickly degrade into safe compounds once they have achieved their specific purpose. Pesticides and other chemicals can remain in the soils for a few years after they were used. Thus a single application of industrial chemicals can impact more than one vintage of a wine. Furthermore, the industrial chemicals can enter the grapevine, and can leave pesticide residue inside plant tissues.
Third, once the industrial chemicals have been released into the vineyard, they can have detrimental effects on the soils, grapevines, and overall ecosystem. Chemicals can damage plants by weakening the root systems of the plant, and can also damage the plant’s immune system. Grapevines are particularly sensitive to some herbicides, and herbicide injury to grapevines can last for several years after the application. The herbicides can reduce the vigor, yield, and fruit quality of the grapevine, weaken the vine’s immune system, and shorten the life of the vineyard. Industrial chemicals can also degrade the soils of vineyards, by reducing concentrations of essential plant nutrients. Furthermore, the overall ecosystem is damaged as beneficial insects, worms, and microorganisms are wiped out by industrial chemicals.
As an avid drinker of wine, with more than a few favorite wine regions, grapes, and producers, I prefer to support farmers that are helping to preserve quality, delicious wines for many years to come. So, as I promised, my second reason for choosing organic wine is a little more serious and objective. However, it is also a little selfish! I like drinking good wine, and I definitely want to drink good wine next year too.