When I’ve searched for information on organic wines, an area that I’m trying to learn more about, I’ve had trouble finding a site that was simple and straightforward. Then a couple of weeks ago, I ran across Drinktheearth.com
. The 4-month-old website is a labor of love by wine and earth lover Jon Eggleton. I contacted Jon, and he was kind of enough to speak with me on the phone.
Jon and his wife are “huge wine people” who always centered their vacations around wine regions, even before they became interested in organic wines. A couple of years ago he and his wife started to make eco-friendly lifestyle changes and that included switching a lot of the wine they drink to organics.
He found he wasn’t finding a lot of information about organic wines online so he started Drink the Earth. His intent was to educate others, talk about organics and biodynamics, and review earth-friendly wines, along with beer and spirits.
I asked Jon about the one issue that I keep running into when I read about organic wines – the sulfites. In order for a wine to be certified USDA Organic, there can be no added sulfites added. Sulfites are a naturally occurring compound, found in grapes and other plants that prevent microbial growth. Adding additional sulfites to wine helps with its agability.
Jon explained to me that there is a school of thought that believes that you have to add sulfites for a wine to be good or the wine will not age well. He says that this has created kind of stigma around organic wines.
He believes that since most wines that have been produced organically aren’t that old yet, the book is still out on their agability. He thinks that most organic wines need to go through three or four more vintages and be rated over time before we’ll really know how they hold up.
Jon also explained to me that many winemakers will use grapes that are grown organically, but then add sulfites when making the wine. These wines cannot be certified USDA Organic, but there are other third party certifications such as the California Certified Organic Farmers that these wines can carry. For people who are concerned about how the grapes are grown but not necessarily the sulfites in the wine, these can be good options.
The way that Jon explained the sulfite issue to me is the way that he explains things on Drink the Earth. This is exactly the way I appreciate new things being explained to me. Now that I have a basic understanding of the sulfite issue, I feel confident in exploring it further.
One other thing that I asked Jon was for a recommendation for a wine for the Valentine’s dinner I’ll be serving this weekend. What organic wine did he recommend for my Steak Diane and stuffed mushroom dinner? He told me the “2004 Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a 'big' enough wine to stand up to your steak, but would also bring out the earthiness of your stuffed mushrooms.” I’ll have to take a look for it in my local wine store.
Jon’s reviews of organic wines, beer and spirits don’t have a lot of technical tasting jargon, just his opinion. Jon also has a blog where he discusses his visits to wineries and breweries and some of his other thoughts.
Drink the Earth is new site that aims to bring basic knowledge and education to those who looking for it. Jon is slowly building it up with new reviews and content so check it out and then check back often for his latest info.