About The Wines We Select

There is no Certification process to legally define the term “natural” wines but it has become a part of the lexicon of wine speak. Here at URBAN EARTH WINES we have chosen wines that are responsibly produced by small, some family owned wineries that grow their grapes either organically, biodynamically, use sustainable winery practices, or “lutte raisonnee.” La lutte raisonnée means ‘the reasoned struggle’. Growers who practice this kind of viticulture claim to use chemicals less often and less aggressively than conventional growers.

Natural Wines


For a wine to be considered natural, it must be also be vinified as naturally as possible. This means that after it has been cultivated organically or biodynamically, there must be a minimum use of additives and technological manipulations. Examples of additives include sugar, acidifiers, and powdered tannins. Manipulations can include the use of spinning cones to remove alcohol, micro-oxygenation to accelerate aging, and the use of laboratory cultivated yeast

The key aspects of what we consider to be a natural wine are:

  • No synthetic molecules in the vines
  • Plowing or other solutions to avoid chemical herbicides.
  • Use of indigenous yeast
  • Handpicked grapes
  • Low to no filtering
  • Low to no sulfites
  • Winemaking that respects the grapes: no pumping or rough handling of the grapes, no micro-oxygenation.
  • No chaptalization
Vegan Wines


Winemakers speed things up by using a small amount of animal ingredients to capture sediment in the wine. This practice of using foreign ingredients to capture sediments is called fining. Fining can be done in many ways sometime involving animal products. Some of those used include;

  • Isinglass (from fish bladders)
  • Gelatin (from boiled cow or pig body parts)
  • Albumin (egg whites)
  • Casein (animal milk protein)

Vegan wines, when clarified, use bentonite clay. Many are unfiltered, requiring no clarification techniques.

Low Sulfite Wines


All wines contain at least some small trace of natural occurring sulfite; however, wines without any additional sulfites added do exist. A small percentage of people, an estimated 0.4% of the population, are considered highly allergic to sulfites. Other people may have a low tolerance for sulfites and are considered sulfite-sensitive. Some “wine headaches” are simply caused by the alcohol in the product. Ironically, many consumers drink white wine, thinking red wines have more sulfites, when actually white wines typically do.

For those who experience unpleasant reaction to sulfites, “organic wines” are an especially good choice since no sulfites have been added and only minimal to trace amounts of natural occurring sulfites that will, in most cases, lie below their threshold level. Regulations in the United States require that domestic and imported wines have warning labels if sulfites exceed 10 ppm (parts per million). Wines with less than 10 ppm are not required to carry the “Contains Sulfites” label. The term “organic wine” refers to wines that have been made using certified organic grapes and only have naturally occurring sulfites under 10 ppm.

Sustainable California

Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW)

ccswThe California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) developed a third-party certification program related to the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP) to increase the sustainability of the California wine industry by promoting the adoption of sustainable practices and ensuring continual improvement.  The goals of the certification program, Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW-Certified), are to enhance transparency, encourage statewide participation and advance the entire California wine industry toward best practices in environmental stewardship, conservation of natural resources and socially equitable business practices. Sustainable winegrowing can be viewed as an umbrella concept, or as a larger circle in a series of concentric circles, where there is overlap with organic and biodynamic principles and practices, yet each have characteristics that make them unique. The comprehensive SWP promotes over 200 best practices for the environment and communities from grapes to glass. In addition to earth-friendly methods for vineyards and surrounding ecosystems, sustainability includes energy efficiency, protection of air and water quality, enhanced relations with employees and neighbors, environmentally preferred purchasing, among many others.

This program is guided by the following set of sustainability values:

  • Produce the best quality wine grapes and wine possible.
  • Provide leadership in protecting the environment and conserving natural resources.
  • Maintain the long-term viability of agricultural lands.
  • Support the economic and social wellbeing of farm and winery employees.
  • Respect and communicate with neighbors and community members; respond to their concerns in a considerate manner.
  • Enhance local communities through job creation, supporting local business and actively working on important community.
  • Honor the California wine community’s entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Support research and education as well as monitor and evaluate existing practices to expedite continual improvements.

Legal Status

At present, there is no legal term or official category for “sustainable wine.” CCSW-Certified provides third-party verification of a winery and/or vineyard’s adherence to a process of continuous improvement in the adoption of sustainable practices. While these positive practices ultimately produce quality wine grapes and wine, the program is focused on the winery and vineyard operations, which isn’t the same as certifying the product. Companies are referred to as a “CCSW-Certified winery” or “CCSW-Certified vineyard”. In the interest of clearly and accurately presenting the program, CCSW-Certified does not attempt to create a definition for sustainable wine nor does it allow the use of a CCSW-Certified logo or claim on the bottle at this time.


Biodynamics: Creating A Balanced Farm Ecosystem

Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food and nutrition. Biodynamics was first developed in the early 1920s based on the spiritual insights and practical suggestions of the Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), whose philosophy is called “anthroposophy.” Today, the biodynamic movement encompasses thousands of successful gardens, farms, vineyards and agricultural operations of all kinds and sizes on all continents, in a wide variety of ecological and economic settings.

Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being raised. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.

Most biodynamic initiatives seek to embody triple bottom line approaches (ecological, social and economic sustainability), taking inspiration from Steiner’s insights into social and economic life as well as agriculture. Community supported agriculture (CSA), for example, was pioneered by biodynamic farmers, and many biodynamic practitioners work in creative partnerships with other farms and with schools, medical and wellness facilities, restaurants, hotels, homes for social therapy and other organizations. Biodynamics is thus not just a holistic agricultural system but also a potent movement for new thinking and practices in all aspects of life connected to food and agriculture.

The Biodynamic Association awakens and enlivens co-creative relationships between humans and the earth, transforming the practice and culture of agriculture to renew the vitality of the earth, the integrity of our food, and the health and wholeness of our communities.

Biodynamic® Certification

demeterBiodynamics has an independent certification system managed worldwide by Demeter International and in the United States by Demeter USA.

Demeter certification in the United States uses the USDA organic standards as a foundation but goes beyond them in several important ways. The Farm Standard requires the healthy integration of crops and livestock on the farm, as well as a certain amount of wild or uncultivated land as part of its biodiversity requirement. It also requires use of the biodynamic preparations described above. In addition, whereas organic certification can be applied to just one part of a farm, Demeter certification must encompass the whole farm.

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Organic Viticulture

Organic Viticulture

The use of chemicals in organic farming is strictly controlled by law. Almost none of what is available to the conventional grower is permitted. The organic grower concentrates more on trying to grow a healthy vine, able to withstand pests and feed itself naturally, than on sheltering the vine from anything that might harm it. This means developing a healthy soil and a balanced ecosystem within the vineyard.  Farming organically involves the following.

The life of the soil

A natural soil is a living thing. A healthy soil is vital to the organic grower because it supplies the vine with nutrients.  He keeps it healthy by regular ploughing and by the application of carefully prepared organic composts. Many natural winemakers refuse to use tractors, because their weight can compact the soil and prevent it from draining properly. Instead they use a horse.  Conventional growers spray nutrients directly onto the vine, so the health of the soil, to them, is irrelevant.


A conventional vineyard is a monoculture. It has only one crop, the vine, and the grower does what he can to kill or remove almost every other living thing. A good organic grower tries to encourage a more natural environment in his vineyard. The vine lives alongside other plants, as well as insects, birds, and other small animals.  While some of these creatures may compete with or prey on the vine, they will also compete with and prey on each other. This situation is inherently more stable than a monoculture. Where you only have a single crop, it can be destroyed very quickly by a single pest or disease. With a functioning ecosystem, it is much harder for a new pest to come in and score a complete biological victory.

Cover crops

Cover crops are secondary crops planted between the rows of vines. They can help the vine in three ways; by encouraging the natural predators of the vine’s enemies, acting as decoys for anything that preys on the vine, and by fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere.  Cover crops can then be ploughed back into the earth as a way of enriching the soil.


  • Current European Union law contains no definition of ‘organic wine’ and does not allow the term to appear on any wine label. Legally speaking, organic wine does not exist.
  • Not all grapes grown organically are certified as organic, and not all wines made from certified organic grapes display this on the label. But certification is a useful guarantee.
  • In Europe, each country is responsible for certifying its own organic producers in accordance with EU law. Most countries devolve this power to independent certification bodies, which are then regulated by the ministry of agriculture.
  • In France there are six government approved certification bodies; Ecocert, Qualité France, ULSAE, Agrocert, Certipaq and ACLAVE. In Greece, DIO is the certification organization.
  • In the US the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic. Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organically grown grapes are produced without using most conventional pesticides and fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.
  • 100% Organic or organic wines are produced with grapes that are certified 100% organically and do not have any added sulfites. You can also have made with organic grapes and these wines may have sulfur dioxide added.


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