Sometimes I find myself…

…reciting the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen as I shop for produce. One day it occurred to me. What about the wine we drink? The wine industry is far less regulated for chemicals than the produce industry. Furthermore, since grapes usually top the list of the Dirty Dozen I always buy the organic version. Should we be concerned about the wine we drink?

What is organic wine? 

According to Turanga Creek Winery, “Organic wine is made from grapes which are free from chemicals and pesticides.”

Why should we consider organic wine?

“Grapes used for winemaking can be subject to up to sixteen various chemicals and pesticides, making them one of the most sprayed crops. For this reason there is a significant movement by winemakers internationally to organic wine.”

Grapes are one of the most chemically “sprayed” (with insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and other nasty “cides”) categories of produce on the market today. By switching to organic wine, you can reduce your exposure to insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. 

Organic wine typically contains less sulfites. There is even an argument that organic wine can give you less of a hangover.

Not to mention, some people believe that organic wines taste better!

How to Read Organic Wine Labels:

It’s important to read the labels of the wine you buy. Here’s what to look for:

“100% Organic” – Made from 100% organically grown ingredients. The wine also was monitored throughout its entire production process. The bottle bears the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal (the certifying agency must be listed). No sulfites are added, though it can contain naturally occurring sulfites (or sulfur dioxide, an antimicrobial substance).

“Organic” – 95% organically grown ingredients (the other 5% must not be available organically). On the label, you’ll see the USDA organic symbol. Again the certifying agency must be listed. No sulfites are added, though the wine can contain naturally occurring sulfites.

“Made with Organic Grapes” or “Made with Organic Ingredients” – Wine that contains at least 70% organic ingredients. Sulfites can be added, but it may not beyond 100 parts per million. 

“Biodynamic” – Beyond organic. This is wine that is 100% organic, PLUS the grower has gone beyond to try to bring the farming process more closely in tune with nature. The concept of biodynamic farming originated from the early 20th-century Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.

Check out these websites if you are interested in discovering organic wine: 

Or start with this list of the best organic wines under $20.


And the next time you’re in San Franciso, try Terroir, one of the first organic wine bars in the country. It’s on my list for our next date night!