Wine and Beer
When it comes to the environment, many wines have become or are working toward a certified organic designation. The National Organic Program (NOP) is part of the USDA and has set guidelines for whether items can carry the organic label. The NOP has determined levels of organic conditions and processing for the wines so consumers can choose how organic they want to go when it comes to raising a wineglass.
For a wine to be labeled “100% organic,” the grapes must have been grown in completely organic conditions and sulfites must not have been added. If a wine is made from 95 percent organic ingredients, it can post the “organic” label and cannot have added sulfites. Naturally occurring sulfites must not exceed a concentration of 100 parts per billion.
Wines can also boast that they are made with organic ingredients. To do this, they must contain a minimum of 70 percent organic ingredients. To hold the title, the label must include a list of the organic ingredients. Organic wines are available at a variety of liquor stores and wine shops.
Sulfites are preservatives with strong antimicrobial powers. Although the complete health effects of sulfites are unknown, some people are sensitive to them. Any wine that claims to be sulfite-free must not have any detectable levels of sulfites. That doesn't mean it doesn't contain sulfites, only that the sulfites present must be below levels that can be detected through standard laboratory equipment and analyses.
Frey Vineyards, one of the oldest and largest family-owned organic vine-yards in the United States, is located in Redwood Valley, California. It carries a variety of organic and biodynamic wines. Biodynamic certifications are more strict than organic and account for complete sustainability with the environment and its surroundings. Frey wines are available across the country and are also sold to most states online.
Bio-dynamic certification is not associated with the USDA organic certification process. Currently, Demeter, an international nonprofit organization, provides certification for biodynamic wines.
The organic beer label means that the barley, hops, and other ingredients are grown and processed without pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers. Organic beer can be purchased at many stores, especially those catering to whole and organic foods. If you are looking for a local brewery, visit CraftBeer.com and use the brewery locator.
Many local microbreweries and vintages make organic beers and wines. By buying locally, shoppers are reducing the travel miles associated with getting the drinks from farm to market. For those feeling particularly bold, home brewing and wine making are also options. Organic ingredients can be purchased at local farmers' markets and grocery stores. If you are interested in learning more about home brewing, check out the Seven Bridges Cooperative. The website not only sells brewing equipment and organic ingredients but also provides a virtual brewing class.
Although a little bit harder to come by, organic spirits are also available. Organic vodka is made domestically and includes brands such as Rain Vodka of Kentucky, Colorado's Vodka 14, Idaho's Liquid Ice, Square One, and Vermont's Sunshine Vodka.
Other organic liquor will require a little more postage. It's not made domestically and there are fewer labels. For tequila, there's Viva Mexico Tequila; for whiskey drinkers, there's Da Mhile straight from Scotland. Juniper Green Gin is made in London. There are a couple of organic rum choices as well: Brazil's Matraga Organic White Rum or Paraguay's Papagayo Organic Spiced Rum.