Want to Really Celebrate Earth Day?

Drink organic wines

In my travels to wineries around the world, the single most-shared claim is "We could be certified organic grape farmers. We do almost everything we need to do. Our viticulturist just likes to have the flexibility to do what he needs." Being a polite soul, I seldom confront them on the obvious question: Organic is binary. You is or you ain't.

I've had the chance to visit the vineyards at Tablas Creek, Frog's Leap, and Bonterra and can attest to the pristine methods they use to grow their certified organic grapes. No pesticides, herbicides, or artificial fertilizers touch these grapes. The wines themselves are not certified organic because they use a very small amount of sulpher-dioxide to protect the bottled wines. Years ago, some winemakers shunned SO2, and organic wines got a bad name in the marketplace for having off-putting tastes and smells. While there are a handful of successful organic wineries today that leave it out, I prefer a little SO2. It prevents both microbes (yuck) and oxidation.

The wines each of these companies make are fairly priced; there's no premium for the organic certification. The easiest wine to find is Bonterra's Chardonnay ($13, but sometimes much less), a delicious, crisp version perfect for predinner conversation. Frog's Leap has long made one of the best Sauvignon Blancs ($17) in California, great with rich fish like sea bass or halibut. Tablas Creek's Côtes de Tablas ($19) is a big, red, Rhone-style wine ideal with a grilled steak or, even better, braised short ribs.

Both the Bonterra and Frog's Leap wines are widely available. You can find the Tablas Creek in better wine shops. end story

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Tablas Creek, Frog's Leap, Bonterra

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