Saturday, October 13, 2018

Domaine Anderson Certifies Winery; Plans to Bottle Label Its Organically Grown Wine

Arnaud Weyrich, Director of Operations for Roederer Estate
and Domaine Anderson pouring at the Wine & Spirits
Top 100 Tasting this week in San Franciso
The French owned Anderson Valley winery Domaine Anderson (the still wine branch of Roederer Estate in Mendocino) has now certified its winery organic and plans to begin bottle labeling its 2018 vintage wines from its Dach Vineyard "Made with Organic Grapes."

It will be the first vintner in the Anderson Valley to take these two steps.

While a few other Anderson Valley wineries have certified organic vineyards - Handley was the first, followed by Long Meadow Ranch - Domaine Anderson is both the first to certify its winery and the first to announce plans to bottle label its certified wines.

(One grower in the area - Filigreen Farm - is certified Biodynamic.)

Anderson Valley ranks far behind its northern Pinot Noir loving cousin, Oregon's Willamette Valley, where 4% of the vineyards are certified Biodynamic (and more are organic).

Domaine Anderson has 44 acres of organic vines on two vineyards. In addition, its Dach vineyard is organic and Biodynamic.

Winemaker Darrin Low says the Dach Vineyard 2018 Chardonnay and Dach Vineyard 2018 Pinot Noir are expected to be released in 2020.

Wines that contain all organic grapes are eligible for three types of organic labeling. Wines that are "Made with Organic Grapes" are similar to the European Organic Wine standard which permits a limited number of sulfites.

Dach Vineyard at Domaine Anderson in Mendocino's Anderson Valley
Wines in the "Made with Organic Grapes" wine category represent more than 80% of all organically grown wines sold in the U.S. according to Neilsen data from June 2017-2018.


A common complaint among consumers is that many fine wine wineries with certified organic vineyards do not bottle label their wines with the word "organic" anywhere on the label, mystifying many who are used to seeing a label on organic products.

While the wine industry has been gunho in promoting itself as sustainable, old school wine marketing "wisdom" has held that consumers have qualms about buying wines labeled organic, allegedly triggering fears of a byhone era when the no added sulfite wines (USDA Organic Wine) were inferior in quality.

However recent market research including a Green Wine survey conducted by the Wine Marketing Council in 2017 and released in 2018, shows that that perception is outmoded, even among older, white male wine buyers, a demographic that is responsible for buying more than 80 percent of the wine sold in the U.S.

The survey - which had included responses from more than 1,100 high frequency wine drinkers - found that 79% of these older, white male wine drinkers did not associate poor quality with organically grown wine. Other research has shown that organic preferences rank far higher with Millenials and other younger drinkers. That's led some brands - including CADE (on Howell Mountain in Napa) - to pursue a Millenial friendly strategy of increasing their organic acreage and production.

Today some fine wine wineries in Sonoma (Ridge) and Napa (Storybook Mountain Vineyards, Voss, Volker Eisele Family Estate, Ghost Block and others) bottle label their wines "Ingredients: Organic Grapes."

Grgich Hills Estate in Napa is the only winery that bottle labels all of its wines "Made with Organic Grapes."

Wines that are "made with organic grapes" must be made in a certified winery, can contain only a limited number of sulfites (100 ppm) and only organic additives. Wines labeled "Ingredients: Organic Grapes" are not required to make their wines in a certified winery, can add any approved TTB additives, and meet TTB standards on sulfites (up to 350 ppm).

"Made with Organic Grape" wines are permitted to put their organic certification on the front label;
"Ingredients: Organic Grapes" wines can be labeled only on the back label.

There is also a major difference in producers' certification fees between these categories. Certified wines - including USDA Organic Wine (no added sulfites; generally supermarket wines priced from $5-10 which represent less than 10% of organically grown wines purchased in the U.S.)  - or Made with Organic Grape wines - are required to pay certification fees on the value of the wine. Makers of "Ingredients: Organic Grape" wines pay certification fees only on the value of the grapes.

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