It seems as though the technological age may have come full circle. As a society we are looking back to our roots in many different areas of our lives. We seem to be more aware of the cycles of nature and the importance of taking care of our planet. In the realm of viniculture, three grape producers in Ontario are certified to sell organic wines and two are able to market their wines as biodynamic.
To be certified ‘organic’, you must prove that your farm is free of synthetic pesticides and preservatives, chemical fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified organisms; demonstrate the humane treatment of animals and the preservation of ecological integrity; and maintain and record these practices for 36 months prior to certification. In addition, an application for certification must be made 15 months before you intend to market your first wine.
If that doesn’t sound complicated enough, there are five different certifying bodies in Ontario to choose from. Each is recognized by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and certifies all kinds of products, not just wine. Oddly, our three wineries are each certified by a different agency.
This renowned Niagara-on-the-Lake property was the first winery in Ontario to be certified organic. The producers chose to be represented by “The Organic Crop Producers and Processors”. Frogpond’s tagline is “Harmony in nature is the prerequisite for truly authentic wine”. It’s obvious they take this mantra to heart – they have been Bullfrog-powered since 2006, using 100% green electricity which is produced by wind and low-impact water power.
Southbrook Vineyards and Tawse Winery
The next two wineries are certified as both organic and biodynamic. One must first be certified as organic before transitioning to biodynamic. Biodynamic farming was the brainchild of Rudolf Steiner, the father of the Waldorf Schools. Biodynamic farming is practised in over fifty countries worldwide. It encompasses all of the properties of organic farming, and then some.
Biodynamics takes organic farming to the next level. The whole farm is treated as a living entity and holistic ecosystem, from the rumbles of the earth beneath to the stars far above. Biodynamic farmers track the movement of the stars and the moon to determine when to sow and when to reap.
In Berlin, Germany, in 1927, Demeter International became recognized as the one and only governing body for biodynamic certification worldwide. This organization is named after Demeter, the goddess of the harvest in ancient Greek religion and myth.
Both Southbrook Vineyards and Tawse hold dual certification. They’ve earned two different Ontario organic certifications, and also hold worldwide designation for biodynamic farming.
Southbrook Vineyards is a sprawling 150-acre estate in Niagara-on-the-Lake, owned by Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier. Their mission statement is “To make the finest wines possible in a respectful, local, light-on-the-land fashion”. Their organic certification board of choice is “Pro-Cert Organics”. Southbook has the distinction of being the first wine estate in Canada to earn both organic and biodynamic certification for vineyard and winery back in 2008.
Southbrook has been awarded LEED® Gold certification for its buildings, grounds and activities, including the creation of a bioswale with native wetland plants to break down pollution from stormwater draining off the access road and parking lots.
And yet another first for this scribe: Bioflavia. It is an Organic Red Wine Grape Skin Powder considered new and innovative on the market. This product is an excellent source of antioxidants required for the maintenance of good health. It was featured on the Dr. Oz show and is made and sold right here in southern Ontario! All the health benefits of red wine in powder form in a jar with no alcohol! Wait a minute…
Tawse Winery’s organic certification was provided by Ecocert. With winemaker Paul Pender at the helm, Tawse has won a bedazzling number of prestigious Ontario wine awards, including 2011 Winemaker of the Year at the Ontario Wine Awards. Maybe this is because Pender treats the whole farm as a single living organism. Composts are specially prepared for each crop, herbal teas are added to the soil, and the activity of his farm is aligned to that of the earth, the moon and the stars. And it works! Organic and biodynamic wineries are consistently winning more and more medals in the international wine community. The quality of the product speaks for itself.
Consider reducing your carbon footprint by enjoying organic and biodynamic wines grown right here in Ontario.
Frogpond Farm Organic Winery
1385 Larkin Road
581 Niagara Stone Road
3955 Cherry Avenue