In selecting a bottle of wine, many of us take into account the vintage and varietal. While these are important factors, we should also take care to consider the agricultural practices and processing methods used to create our favorite wines. Wine is an item we purchase to consume, and as such, we should hold it to the same high standards we look for in the food we eat. In our Specialty department, we seek out wines from Certified Organic and Biodynamic vineyards because we know the agricultural methods used to grow the grapes are not only free from toxic chemical pesticides, but also support the health of the soil. Our growing understanding of the importance of healthy soil and how it creates the healthiest plants could not be any more apparent than in the world of wine, as it is so clearly reflected in the flavor and spirit of the wine itself. 

While we’ve always prioritized organic and Biodynamic in our wine sourcing, for several years we struggled to find enough of those options to fill our shelves. In 2016, right before we opened our Mill Valley store, we noticed an increase in the number of wines available to us from organic and Biodynamic vineyards. Inspired by this shift in market availability, we set out to transform our wine department, and we’ve worked diligently over the last two years to remove wines not grown on Certified Organic or Biodynamic properties and find replacements. We’re pleased to report that out of the hundreds of wines we carry, we have only a handful of offerings left that do not come from organic or Biodynamic vineyards.

This transition has not always been easy, and has sometimes meant discontinuing some of our customers’ favorite wines and bringing in less recognizable organic options. Additionally, as part of this transition, our Specialty Coordinator has been in constant dialogue with vintners and vineyards to get as many details on their wines as possible. If Organic Certification is not clearly indicated on a wine’s label, then we ask to see Organic Certification for the vineyard, as well as confirmation that all the fruit used in the wine came from that vineyard before bringing it in. 

We’re excited by the progress we’ve made in our Wine department, but our work in this area is not done. While sourcing wine from Certified Organic or Biodynamic vineyards accounts for the agricultural practices used to grow the grapes, it does not guarantee that conventional methods were not used in the processing and production of the wine. For example, a wine produced using conventional methods is allowed up to 350ppm of added and naturally occurring sulfites, whereas organic certification states a naturally occurring limit of 10ppm, and allows for no added sulfites. With this in mind, we’re moving forward with a new goal in mind. As we continue to evolve our Wine department, we’ll be working to source wines that not only come from organic vineyards, but are also produced in a certified organic facility. We’re excited to work with our partners in the wine industry during the next step in our journey.

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