For the past seven years, Spier has been committed to producing organic wines, offering three ranges: The Yellowwood, First Stone, and the farm-exclusive Farm House. This Spring sees the launch of Good Natured Organic, a range inspired by the symbiosis between the sugarbird and the suikerbossie in the Cape Floral Kingdom. To celebrate the release, here’s everything you ever wanted to know about organic wine (but perhaps were too afraid to ask), as explained by our talented Organic Winemaker Tania Kleintjes:
Let’s start with the basics: What is organic wine?
Much like organic fruit and vegetables, you can’t spray an organic vineyard with any form of synthetic pesticide, herbicide or fungicide. Instead, it allows natural predators to rid the vines of pests.
What difference does this make to the wine?
The big difference is in the vineyard, not the taste. Since no synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides are allowed in organic grape farming, everything has to be done with physical labour or a workaround like harvesting earlier or investing in additional pest control. So Mother Nature will thank you.
When I’m in the store, how do I know if a wine is organic? What should I look for?
Look out for the official organic certification logo generally featured on the back label. While producers can claim they follow organic farming practices, unless they are certified, the claims mean nothing.
Is organic wine more expensive?
Generally, organic wines can cost a little more than conventionally-made ones as they are more labour intensive. The conversion to organic farming takes years of work, commitment and certification to qualify as one. For example, Spier started our organic journey in 2011 and released the 1st fully certified wine in 2015. But paying that extra price means you are supporting more environmentally-friendly vineyard practices.
Why would I drink organic wine?
As with the rest of the world, South African wine consumers are drinking “less but better” and are increasingly sensitive to the sustainability aspect of products. As a result, organic wine is on the rise. Spier aims to showcase that philosophy does not have to compromise quality.
Is there a misconception that organic wine is not as good as conventionally-made wine?
As with so much in life, quality matters. It all depends on the level of craftsmanship, the winemaker, and the terroir. Take our new organic range, Good Natured, as an example. As a winemaker, I always aim to craft an excellent quality wine. The fact that Good Natured is organic is an incredible plus, but I want to make wine that people, first and foremost, love to drink.
Is organic wine healthy?
Tricky! On the one hand, yes, it is. Organic wines are produced in a more natural way, using no synthetic sprays. Fewer synthetics in your body can only be a good thing. But this said, remember organic wine is still alcohol like any other, and as we follow the European organic standard, it contains sulphites. Wine always needs to be consumed responsibly and in moderation.
Can organic wine come in any colour or varietal?
Of course! Organic wine is wine made from grapes. So just as you can make wine in a white, rosé, red or even orange style, you can do the same with organic wine.
Is organic wine vegan?
Not necessarily. Both organic and vegan wine requires different certifications, as each approach requires a unique set of practices.
What should wine drinkers expect from the Good Natured range?
Nothing that they don’t expect from the rest of the Spier range, by which I mean top-quality, delicious wines that are beautifully balanced and food-friendly. The Good Natured range features a Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Red Blend - all made in an environmentally-friendly way so that you can clink your glasses to a sustainable wine purchase.