Organic Wine is a growing trend promising well-being benefits, sustainability claims and that most alluring promise of reduced hangovers. We were curious to learn more so we asked Angove Organic’s Chief Winemaker Tony Ingle to share his expertise on all things certified organic when it comes to our favourite beverage.
Why certified organic matters
Firstly, is certified organic wine actually better for us from a health perspective? Tony says that the use of chemical pesticides in non-organic food/drink is strictly regulated in Australia, yet certified organic foods and beverages tend to have lower nitrate levels and higher vitamin C selenium, supporting overall wellbeing. It is important that our soil is healthy to ensure we are getting the best nutrients without chemicals and toxins.”
Tony also says that certified organic wineries “contribute to the natural eco-systems that they exist on. They naturally use less water (due to the higher amount of compost and organic matter in the soil that holds water more efficiently), and don’t pollute the surrounding environment with dangerous chemicals and fertilisers.”
“Angove Organic’s world-famous Indian Runner Ducks are hard at work during the growing season helping us maintain our certified organic status” says Tony. “each day the ducks roam the vineyards eating snails and other bugs without the need to use pesticides on the vines. We have expanded to a ‘taskforce’ of natural helpers to support our certified organic production and these include bees, microbats and our beloved ducks.”
Tony says “Simply put, there is no other way, other than certified organic viticulture, to produce the best tasting wines as well as to take care of the environment and our fellow human beings. “Organic viticulture is viewed as the best way to improve soil quality and optimise water use, which creates stronger, healthier vines and better fruit.”
The Science of Red Wine
Resveratrol is a chemical that can be found in the red wine grapes and through scientific research has been shown to support optimal wellbeing, including anti-ageing processes that support longevity and even help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress associated with various degenerative health conditions. Red wine, in fact, contains more resveratrol than white wine as the grapes is fermented in contact with the skins, increasing its resveratrol content. Many a famous doctor has suggested drinking a glass of certified organic red at night, which talks to the genesis of Angove Family Winemakers, founded five generations ago by Dr William Angove, newly arrived from Cornwall UK. After establishing a medical practice, Dr Angove soon found himself experimenting with wine making, initially using what he produced as tonics for his patients. He soon realised that he should broaden the offering for the wider community, and so Angove Family Winemakers was born.
Modern Day ‘Taskforce’ to Maintain Organic
At Angove Family Winemakers, a unique natural ‘Task Force’ stands proudly protecting the delicate vineyards which are cared for with the Angove “Gentle Touch” methodology. The taskforce made up of the Indian Runner ducks, microbats, rose bushes and honey bees, are carefully used to ensure environmental balance and sustainability that delivers best in class certified organic wine.
Indian Runner Ducks
“Our Indian runner ducks help control the snail population and prevent them from munching on new buds and young soft shoots.” They are essential to maintaining the vineyards in a natural way without the use of pesticides. In fact, Tony noted that in their Warboys vineyard, a family of Indian Runner ducks are their regular “Employees of the Month.”
“Microbats live amongst the native gums amongst the vineyards, and naturally control insect species,” says Tony. Similarly, the local bats are a crucial element in maintaining a well-balanced ecosystem that protects the grapes without interfering with the estate.
“Bees are crucial to a healthy and thriving vineyard.” Tony explains that the Bees within the vineyard “act as insect security guards”, making the beneficial insects feel safe and protected, encouraging them to stay and “defend the vineyard”.
Roses are planted at the end of each row of vines, as an early warning system for unwanted mildew which may be detrimental if they gain a foothold on the vines.
Knowing and Choosing your ‘Perfect Organic Wine’
According to Tony, “certified organic wine has a myriad of health and environmental benefits. Certified organic wines do not use any synthetic chemicals and there’s nothing artificial added to the wine. Without all the chemicals, the vineyards attract lots of native species to the area, which supports biodiversity and protects the natural ecosystem.”
Organic vines tend to need less water because the soil is built up with more organic matter, which holds the water better and in turn makes the vines more resilient in times of drought. Without all the chemical fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, there is no chemical residue left in the surrounding soil and groundwater – greatly reducing the amount of chemical runoff in drinking water and coastal areas. A recent study by the Soil Association found that organic farms attract up to 50% more native plants, birds and wildlife than conventional farms. Based on a principle of environmentally friendly practices, organic farming results in benefits for both land and wildlife. While weeds may not always be aesthetically pleasing – their presence assists health nutrient cycling and ideal levels of nitrogen in the soil, essential for healthy vine growth.
According to Tony, the Certified Organic process is better for the grapes, the land and the wildlife. The Certified Organic process avoids the use of any synthetic inputs, no chemical residue is left on the plants or in the surrounding soil and groundwater. The soil is built up with more compost and organic matter, which holds water far better – therefore the soil is healthier, and the vines are more resilient to harsh conditions such as drought. The vines themselves become healthier, the grapes in Certified Organic wine have a greater depth of flavour than those used in conventional wines.
Certified Organic Wine is wine that has been made from grapes grown without any synthetic chemical intervention – including artificial fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides – If the vineyard and wine is not audited and not certified there are no guarantees – look for the certification mark.
True natural wines should be organic and contain nothing but pure, fermented grape juice. Nothing else (including acids, enzymes or sugars) is added to the tanks during fermentation. Natural wines are unfiltered so sediment or cloudiness can remain. However, Tony noted that natural wines can be made from non-organic grapes.
“Conventional” wines often use animal derived fining agents, such as milk, eggs and isinglass – made from the float bladder of the sturgeon fish. A vegan wine does not use any animal derived products in either the wine or the winemaking process. The vegan fining agents are made from chickpea protein and potato.
How to be sure your wine is certified organic
Tony says it’s critical that your wine has the Bud logo from Australian Certified Organic, or other certifier, which is the only way you can be guaranteed it is truly organic.
Lastly, he says above all it is important that you ENJOY good wine with good people and drink responsibly!
 Angove Organic, ‘The Future of Organic’, September 2020.