Clean Wine 101
So, What Exactly Makes Wine Clean?
How do you choose the best-tasting and most carefully made wine from the rows and rows of bottles on grocery store shelves?
Some might select top-shelf options or those with the most eye-catching label. In reality finding a cleaner wine has less to do with exclusive reserves, pretty packaging, or a points-based grade assigned by critics and everything to do with how the grapes are grown, fermented, fined, and filtered. To really zero in on clean, you would have to rule out most conventionally made wines, as an estimated 95% of the world’s vineyards don’t farm organically.
In addition to leaning on non-organic grapes, many winemakers use other additives (some of which aren’t vegan) to perfect their bottles. Do these extras belong in your glass? The truth is, there’s no official criteria on what makes a wine “clean” because the category is still being established. So when our founders set out to create a clean wine that’s produced on a larger scale, it took rethinking wine as usual. What they quickly realized: creating an elevated wine isn’t about what you add to it, but what you leave out. Ahead, see how the standards we uphold make our wine clean and delicious.
It’s wine as it was meant to be.
Insist On Organic Grapes
The cornerstone of creating a clean wine? Only use organic grapes. Here’s why: Grapes aren’t typically washed once picked from the vine. That means if the fruit isn’t grown organically, then the pesticides used in the vineyards can remain with the juice as it moves through the fermentation, filtration, fining, and bottling processes. Ultimately, traces of pesticides end up in your glass, no matter how expensive the bottle or well-regarded the winemaker.
To make outstanding, pesticide-free wine (and enough of it to serve a wide audience), our founders partnered with family vineyards that have been producing organic grapes for generations. These winemakers nurture the vine for the best naturally grown fruit. It’s that diligence that keeps the grape’s integrity intact and elegantly sidelines the need to toy with formulations during processing in order to get a delicious wine.
Say No To Unnecessary Extras
There are several ways to manipulate the color, flavor, alcohol content, and aroma of wine before it’s bottled. Yet, thanks to the skills of our partner winemakers, we never have to use the many below additives that can be found in some wines. Our process includes the following guidelines:
- No Added Concentrates: In order to raise the wine’s sugar level, concentrates can be added. This added sugar can feed yeast during fermentation and lead to higher alcohol content, or it can remain in the wine to sweeten the finished product.
- No Added Colors: Have you heard of Mega Purple? As much as we wish it was just the name of a Prince cover band, it’s actually a concentrate commonly used to color correct a wine’s final hue. Mega Purple is something our founders don’t believe should be used in a clean cup.
- No Added Flavorings: Some winemakers add flavorings to their wines (like oak or fruit flavorings) in order to change or mask any undesirable characteristics they might find in their wines. We believe a wine’s flavor should come from superior grapes, so we don’t add flavorings to the fermentation or aging process.
- Minimal Sulfites: Though it’s natural for sulfites to develop in the winemaking process (and lend antioxidant and antibacterial properties), it’s also common for winemakers to add sulfites to a wine (up to 350 ppm) in order to maintain stability. Our wines contain no greater than 100ppm of total sulfites which is sufficient to keep our blends stable and consistent in flavor.
Make it Vegan
For most of us, the use of animal-derived ingredients isn’t exactly top of mind when we select a wine from the shelf. But before wine is bottled, it’s softened and clarified via a “fining” process, which often requires the use of fish bladders, egg whites, or milk protein (known as casein). We leave animals out of the equation and use bentonite clay for fining.
In the end, the key to forging a new, clean category in wine lies in some of the most old-world practices: farm organically and with centuries-old winemaking expertise. This will ensure we don’t have to intervene with dozens of additives or overprocessing. The final result is a delicious, vegan wine, made with organic grapes, that is free of pesticides and unnecessary extras. It isn’t just clean, it’s wine as it was meant to be.