In honor of Earth Day (yesterday), what else could I possibly talk about other than NATURAL WINE!? The wave of popularity in more sustainable winemaking practices has swept through California, and with good reason. Biodynamic®, organic, and natural wines simultaneously encourage an increase in eco-friendly products and a whole new style of wines. This healthy stewardship of the environment has never been more important, especially in communities increasingly threatened by global climate change.
I’ve lived in Santa Barbara now for a decade and I still can’t believe how lucky I am. Fun fact, there are more bird species living here in Santa Barbara than anywhere else in California. The biodiversity here is amazing, and it’s been maintained thanks to environmentalists supporting conscious, local agriculture. Agriculture has been the largest segment of the local economy since the 70’s. Wine and grape growers have for decades been a centerpiece of Santa Barbara’s agriculture, but in recent years they’ve played an even greater role in revitalizing sustainable farming practices.
I’ve spoken before about the wine renaissance that California is experiencing thanks to the shifting economic models adopted by producers. Sustainable winemaking is one of the byproducts of that shift and it’s worth celebrating! Ten years ago, few new world winemakers were willing to risk losing a vintage in order to grow without the use of pesticides or herbicides, or produce wine without the assistance of foreign yeast strains for inoculation, or sugar, acid or sulfur to control taste and/or preserve their precious juice. Today, some of the most exciting new wines coming out of California are organic, biodynamically farmed and extremely low in sulfites.
This style of winemaking isn’t new. In fact, it’s as old as winemaking itself. 3000 years ago, Monsanto wasn’t producing glyphosate (the chemical in RoundUp) so wine producers relied on natural fertilizers (animal manure and compost) and beneficial insects (YAY ladybugs!) to help their crops thrive. Once harvested sorted, and pressed, native yeast was allowed to take hold and produce what nature intended: vibrant, low alcohol, high acid, fruity wine with an unpredictable, living quality.
It’s easy to imagine an ancient Athenian looking at our modern American society and remarking on how backward and uncivilized we are. “You let people put what on your crops?....You elected who to lead your country?”. Homer must be turning over in his grave.
SO… we put together a list of our favorite natural wine producers coming out of California so you can jump start your newly inspired collection of wines that support Mother Earth. *Hint* the hyperlinked brands are wines that you can currently find in our store… get in there and grab them while you can and stay tuned for more of these greats to show up soon!
Donkey and Goat (Berkeley)
Stirm (Pajaro Valley)
Demetria (Los Olivos)
Lo-Fi (Los Alamos)
Story of Soil (Los Olivos)
J. Brix (San Diego)
A Tribute to Grace (Santa Barbara)
Horse and Plow (Sebastopol)
Roark Wine Co. (Buellton)
Dirty and Rowdy (Napa)