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Parkville, Missouri 64152

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Secrets of "Organic" Wines - Part 2


Organic Wines at Wines by JenniferIn Part 1 of our two-part series on organic wines, we explored the various practices used in an organic vineyard. In Part 2, we will look at the techniques employed in the winery itself in producing organic wines.

Because the building that houses the winery must be built in a certain way to produce wines organically, the decision to “go organic” should be made prior to the construction of the actual winery. This will become clearer as we delve further into the process.

There are many stages involved in converting harvested grapes into wine. These stages vary depending upon whether the grapes are white or red, and on the wine maker’s personal style and preferences, but generally, the stages appear like this:

•The grapes are crushed.
•The crushed grapes (known as “must”) are de-stemmed.
•Primary fermentation of the juice begins.
•Secondary fermentation occurs.
•Finally, the fermented juice (wine) is moved to barrels (for reds and some whites) or tanks (most whites) for aging.

In a conventional winery, the grapes are processed through these stages by mechanical means, such as the electronic pump over systems commonly seen during fermentation. However, in an organic environment, the grapes are moved through these stages by the use of gravity. To accomplish this, the different staging areas in an organic winery are usually situated in a sequential, descending fashion. For this reason, many organic wineries are built on a hillside to best utilize the forces of gravity. (It is interesting to note that many conventional wineries also utilize gravity systems for economic reasons.)

In an organic winery, the barrel room is typically underground to maintain the necessary temperatures without the use of electricity. The owners will often plant wild flowers and other plants on top of the barrel room (unless it is a cave) to provide for natural ventilation of the toxic gases that are natural byproducts of the wine making process.

An organic winery will also use only biodegradable products to clean equipment and facilities. Because only natural processing is allowed, no sulfur is used to preserve the wine and no dry ice, chemicals, or tanks with electronic cooling systems are used to keep the wine cool during fermentation.

From the vineyard to the winery, there is obviously more than meets the eye in the production of organic wines. While we’ve just touched on the highlights in our two-part series, a trip to Wines by Jennifer can provide you with a more comprehensive picture, along with the opportunity to sample the best in organic wines from our broad selection.

Jennifer Stanton is the proprietor of Wines by Jennifer in Parkville, MO.

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