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Orleans Hill Winery, California – Tony Norskog and Donn Berdahl

April 10, 2012

(Also known as: Nevada County Wine Guild)

Donn and Tony

From Tony:

I’ve been making wine for fun or profit since I was 15 years old. I ended up studying wine in college and have worked in the industry for over 35 years now. I got into organic wine production for a couple of reasons, the biggest being that I liked the people in the organic food and wine trade and their ethics (something somewhat missing in conventional wine world).

Ego is the biggest obstacle in the wine industry, both in marketing and production. It takes a bit of time and an open mind to accept the many facets of the wine industry, the many different wines and their market niches, and not feel any specific market (including one’s own) is superior.

The making of organic wine is currently the domain of the maverick, since there is more risk of the wine going in an unplanned direction; and people who rely on regular paychecks tend to steer away from ‘higher risk’ behavior. I’ve only had a couple of batches in the last 100-plus head off in a bad direction with odd yeast having a bacchanal in my tanks. One bit of good news is that technology, especially membrane technology, has given us many ways to improve wine without the use of chemicals. Actually, it’s very simple winemaking with the exception of the compliance work of getting and staying certified organic. That has gotten very bureaucratic over the last 5 years. The USDA organic rules are holding up against some challenge to weaken them; but, to date, the US definition of Organic Wine is the strictest in the world.

I see the “sulfites issue” as being one of personal choice: Do you want more or less preservatives in your diet? While “sulfites or no” is a personal choice, I see the organic growing of the grapes as being a societal choice as we all share in the consumption of air and water.

I’m of the opinion that organic agriculture is valuable enough to the world that any way you can encourage its existence is very ‘worth’ it. If you’re a grower, processor, marketer or consumer, the little decisions you make have a big impact in our food system and its sustainability.

website: www.ourdailyred.com

 

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