The wines are apparently hitting their stride, with U.S. sales of certified organic wine and those made with organic grapes hitting $80 million last year, up 28 percent since 2004. Moreover, the Organic Trade Association expects organic wine sales to grow about 17 percent each year through 2008.
As is usual with these sort of write-ups, the piece spends a good deal of its time sorting out its terms—”made from organic grapes” versus “USDA organic” versus “biodynamic,” and so on. A lot rides on sulfites—although the stuff occurs naturally in the winemaking process, winemakers who add a bit of the preservative to their wine blow their shot at a straight-up organic certification.
E also dedicates a sidebar to the all-important issue of whether organic wines, in addition to helping save the planet or whatever, also taste as good as their nonorganic counterparts. The verdict, as rendered by Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, is pretty positive. Other critics are less kind, but the article’s reasonable conclusion is that organic wine has the potential to be as good as wine produced by more industrial processes, and that a lot rides on the particular winemaker and the particular year.