In Youngberg Hill’s last blog on farming we discussed organic grape growing and the difference between growing grapes organically and making wine organically. Today, we will talk about the difference between organic and sustainable farming.
Organic farming is basically a building block to sustainable farming. Sustainable practices are a little more arbitrary in that in most cases there are many different certifying organizations and you do not have to be certified organic to get sustainable certification. I like to compare sustainable farming to maintaining and improving the health of your own body. Every year, you go to the doctor, get an exam, and have tests done to find any deficiencies or excesses in your body. Then you take appropriate action to correct those deficiencies or imbalances. Youngberg Hill does the same with the vines and the soil. We test each year to determine any deficiencies or imbalances the vines or soil have and then we take corrective action via composting, cover crops, and other organic measures to improve the health of both the plants and the soil. Our goal is for both to be healthier in the future than today and we are doing it systemically.
Youngberg Hill uses these practices because we believe that by improving the health of the soil and the vines, that health will translate into healthier vines that will live much longer, hopefully hundreds of years. Under current “standard practices” vines are typically replaced after 30 to 40 years, if not earlier. Older vines continue to draw more deeply on the terrior of the vineyard and the fruit will develop more character and sense of place. That transitions into wines with more vitality, more unique qualities, and more life and vibrancy.
Farming with these practices will produce wines that have different characteristics than the average commercial bottle of wine. By taking the opportunity to taste these wines, you will be able to identify with those characteristics that most appeal to you. Do you know how old the vines are of the wines you are drinking? Do you know where the fruit was grown? What qualities do you identify with?