Winemakers are going back to their roots with biodynamic wines.
In a time of increased environmental consciousness, biodynamic winemaking has gained steady interest in the Australian viticulture industry. With sustainable practices and minimal use of synthetic chemicals characterising this winemaking method, there is plenty to like about the emerging crop of organic wines hitting the market.
What is organic wine?
Organic wine is essentially the result of minimal intervention during the winemaking process, with the intention to create a wine that is as close to nature as possible. That means no application of synthetic chemicals to soil or vines; the use of grapes that have been grown without artificial pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers; minimal or no added preservatives, such as sulphur dioxide; and no presence of genetically modified (GM) ingredients. The result? Wine that retains and reflects the natural flavour of the grape used during the winemaking process, creating distinctive flavours and aromas that carry from fermentation to the bottle.
These wines must also carry a certification label issued in accordance with Australian Certified Organic Standards to officially be marketed as ‘organic’.
Who makes it?
Biodynamic winemaking is nothing new – in fact, all wine produced before 1847 would be deemed organic because farming chemicals were yet to exist. However, an inclination towards more sustainable winemaking processes have become notable in recent years, and this has culminated in a greater interest in organic winemaking.
In Australia, Gil Wahlquist of Botobolar vineyard in Mudgee is regarded as one of the pioneers of organic viticulture – his winery became the country’s first certified organic vineyard in 1984. A number of organic winegrowers exist today, including Tamburlaine Manafacturing in New South Wales, Grosset Wines and Temple Bruer in South Australia, Robinvale Wines and Jasper Hill in Victoria, and Cullen Wines in Western Australia.
Why is it taking off?
While organic varieties are gaining interest in the Australian wine market, these environmentally friendly blends are yet to truly take off among consumers. A recent market bulletin from Wine Australia indicated that while there has been overall growth in both Australian wine exports and domestic consumption, organic wine is yet to carve out a considerable slice of this growth – organic wine accounts for 0.5 per cent of all bottled exports, and 1.3 per cent of total wine consumption in Australia. The interest is still there, with the average 9-litre case equivalent consumption of organic wine increasing by 28 per cent between 2017 and 2018, yet for the time being organic wine remains as a niche market in Australian viticulture.
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