What is natural wine? If you ask this question to U.S. wine producers you're likely to get any number of responses ranging from a lengthy explanation to a defensive rant. It's a complex question for a winery to answer. It can open up a very big can of worms. And, natural wine makers would be pretty happy about that on many levels.
Natural wines at their most basic are farmed at least organically and are made without any additives. So, if a farmer isn't adding chemicals at the farm and wine maker isn't adding any chemicals in the cellar what is going on? Life. Naturally.
There is so much thoughtfulness going into the production of wine through this process it isn't surprising modern wine producers have taken advantage of the latest technology on the farm and in the cellar. However, what's in it for the consumer?
Modern wine making practices have made wine producers scientists. The bottle you buy is going to reflect that science. The consumer will have a consistent drink. It will last on the shelf. It will have alcohol, sulfites, yeast -- and any number of other additives in your glass. But you won't know it because the FDA doesn't regulate that or require wine makers to tell you.
Natural wine producers don't add chemicals. They farm the land according to organic and/or biodynamic practices -- and by hand. They harvest grapes with care and thought. They mature their wines with the least amount of intervention. They produce wines that vary from one vintage to the other but reflect the year they were made and they location.
As I said, it is a complex topic for this industry. It is complex domestically and it gets even more so when you add in that Europe and other countries have been coming back to the idea of the original natural wine practices of ancient times for some time.
And, what's more... they are good! They are interesting. The are living. They are a true celebration of the earth and location. I am inspired by the people who make them and the results they yield.