So what do I mean when I say that we produce a natural wine?
There is quite a bit of mystery and misleading information when it comes to understanding exactly how wine is made. This is quite often deliberate on behalf of the large factory producers who dont want you to know, but also perpetuated by exclusive properties to increase the mystery and therefore the price of their product.
I prefer a more open approach to the explanation but this itself can meet opposition. I’m reminded of a tasting I hosted last year to a crowded restaurant. I was explaining how I make my wine and asked for questions: One lady declared that she did not want to know details. She, “preferred the mystique of it all”
Wine making, especially red, is essentially a simple process: grow grapes, ferment, bottle. A good wine should really only contain grape juice and yeast (or rather the bi-product of the yeast and natural sugar in the grape juice). To prevent oxidation, there will also be a tiny amount of SO2. The mystery comes from the way in which the grapes are grown, harvested and then the actual winemaking process itself.
Natural wine is wine made with minimal chemical and technological intervention in growing grapes and making them into wine. The term is used to distinguish such wine from organic wine and biodynamic wine because of differences in cellar practices. All natural wines are, however, farmed organically at a minimum and many growers are biodynamic in the vineyard as well. (WikiPedia)
We maintain our vineyard in a natural way: The French say ‘lutte raisonnée’ (reasoned fight or pracical organics). Organic products are used (copper and sulpher) and we attempt to minimise mechanical intervention (hand pruning and minimal tractor work). This does mean that our vineyard does not look intensely manicured. In fact it looks a bit messy with grass growing between the vines and lots of native plants and wild flowers within that grass. However, this is supposed to be a natural place that supports a good wildlife system.
In the wine cellar we use as little chemical intervention as we can. That means using a minimum amount of SO2 to protect the wine and avoiding additives to the wine such as colour and flavour enhancers, deacidifiers, sugars: Yes all of those are used in larger factory wines. People I speak to are often shocked by this. But there is no requirement to put this information on the wine label.
I’m hoping that the more people understand about wine, the more that they will ask for wine that is made naturally. It may cost a bit more because it will have been made by hand but you will know what is in it and I know which I would always choose.