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The life of a winemaker - the Bio approach

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The life of a winemaker - Part 2

Let's start from a basic concept: what does Bio means? In theory, everything that is grown up in a 100% natural way, is biologic. Unfortunately, nowadays it's impossible to have a 100% bio product, even if it's home made. First, land is polluted in any case, it's not nearly as bio as it was 50 years ago, this because even if my own land has no poisons in it, the ground water is always somewhat polluted, this because the cycle of water is polluted in itself; second, finding 100% original seeds/trees to grow is almost impossible, for the most they are GMO or in any case they are grafted or not original from my area.
So, to make it short, when I say Bio, I mean as biologic as possible, just that

Said the above, the way I grow my own grapes and I make my own wine out of them is light years away from what I call the "industrial wine". I know someone will probably turn up their nose, I had some confrontations about that with people producing wine for business, but I can't help thinking that there's a huge difference between making a bio wine and making a commercial wine. As I hinted in the Part 1, making wine for business is different than making it for your own usage, and for a good reason: when you sell something to a customer, they expect the product to be consistent over time. In other words, if you sell smartphones, the same model has to have exactly the same characteristics, and so it's for the wine... but, there's a big but here: wine is basically a living creature (or better to say a complex organism made of many small "living" creatures), therefore it's affected by the season and it has it's own life cycle and of course this is a problem, business-wise.

Imagine that you have an importer from abroad: they are used to buy 5000 bottles of wine from you every year, and every time with the same characteristics.. what do you think will happen if you don't send them the 5000 bottles of exactly the same kind, when they expect them? That's the logic of industrial products, and low and medium quality wines (and most of the high quality ones too) have to cope with it.. so how do they do? Chemistry, what else? I invite you to go to visit any industrial winemaker around the world and see what they do exactly: provided that it won't be easy to find one that will allow you the confidence to show you the full production process, if you are like me, you'll be shocked. Man, no thanks I don't want to be like Walter White from Braking Bad, I'd still prefer to wake up alive tomorrow morning!

However, I might be biased I know, but if you look at the full production process of industrial wine, from the poisons and additives they use in the vineyard, to all the chemical stuff they add in the process of making wine (pH regulators, sugars, sulfites, etc), then you can't deny that this is one of the most adulterated products ever. Even what they sell as biological wine, with certifications and all, it's still an adulterated product, it's just a matter of smaller quantities of added chemical products and very few ones that are totally forbidden.
And I spare you from the lie of the certifications... basically it's all about the fact that they should be using only specific grapes coming from specific areas, but imagine what happens when there isn't enough of those to cover the demand of the market? I'll stop here

.. so, what does the Dude do to produce his own Bio wine? I have few rules that I follow:
- only grapevines that are somewhat original from my area or the areas around (central Italy), this in order to have trees that are most suited for the climate we have and to minimize the possibility of diseases and weak growth.
- no poisons at all (like herbicides, complex multi-purpose fungicides, chemical fertilizers etc. Only in the case of a large disease affecting a big part of the vineyard I could be considering using copper sulfate (home made), this not for the sake of that year's production, but rather to save the vineyard from large damages and future troubles.. in 27 years it happened 3 times.
- I use only biological stuff to fertilize the land, either my own compost (which is never enough) or the manure from my neighbor who's a breeder, or either a mix of both.
- in the unlikely case that I have to water the vineyard, I use water from my own well rather than chlorinated water; it's still not 100% clean, but it's the best I can have.
- my vineyard is plastic free: plastic in itself isn't an issue in the short term, but it can become so over the years, for instance if you use plastic laces to tie the trees, every year a certain amount will drop on the ground and year after year they'll increase the pollution degree of your land. I use only natural means to tie, like the shoots from the willow tree and you'll only find wood (poles) and steel (nails and wires) in my vineyard.
- no chemistry with wine, at all. I only use mechanical treatment (filtering with paper filters), this because no matter if you are breaking bad or not, in order to grant a longer life to your wine, it has to be "clean". The fact that I don't use sulfites makes my wine weak when it comes to moving it around, for this reason it always gives the best of itself only if consumed not far from my home; generally speaking, moving it for more than few tens of km will change it dramatically (oxidation).

Well I think that by now you should have understood what's my stance and what I'm doing, in case you didn't, then let's make it short: I'd rather prefer to throw it away than to poison myself with my own wine!

Next chapter I'll tell you about the harvest...

Updated October 10, 2019 at 06:07 AM by Flinn

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  1. Flinn's Avatar
    Just to mention, this is grapes' harvest period, next blog I'll probably post some (or many, depending on the mood) pictures of this year's harvest and first days of works in the cellar
  2. Flinn's Avatar