Just what is regenerative agriculture? It’s not just another trendy buzzword meant to entice consumers. It’s an ancient form of agriculture that is making its way back into mainstream farming. It’s successful, not only in producing and sustaining quality agricultural products, like wine grapes, but it’s also successful in combating climate change, the effects of drought, and (most commonly overlooked) creating a healthful environment for all living things within the farm—microorganisms, plants, animals, and people.
To help better understand this ancient form of farming, Senior editor Stacy Briscoe talks with Paul Dolan, chairman at Regenerative Organic Alliance, Elizabeth Whitlow, executive director at Regenerative Organic Alliance, Jordan Lonborg, viticulturist at Tablas Creek Vineyard and Meghan Siemers, sustainability manager at Gundlach Bundschu.
This will be the last post in my WSET Exam-Type Questions series. At least as far as my D1 is concerned. By the time you read this, I’ll have already sat the D1 exam—hope I did ok. Stay tuned, though. D2, 3, 4, and 5 are still ahead of me.
For this last piece, I created two separate winemaking scenarios. To be fair, I pulled certain situations—climactic and soil conditions, wine style type, and even North or South Hemisphere—out of a hat in order to formulate these scenarios. (You know, so I wouldn’t cheat and just ask a question about Sonoma’s Los Carneros AVA and look out my window for the answer.) My goal with these scenarios is to walk through as many steps of the viticultural and winemaking process to prove (to myself) I can talk about all the applicable factors.
First let’s define tartrates. You may have heard them called “wine diamonds.” You can find them on your cork, in the neck of the bottle, and in extreme cases floating in the wine itself (or sunk to the bottom). It’s not bad. It’s just not pretty. Some consumers think it’s a “fault.” It’s not. But to prevent any misconceptions or unhappy conversations, many winemakers will stabilize against them.
What these crystals actually are are deposits of potassium and calcium tartrates. It often happens when a wine (that hasn’t been stabilized against tartrates) sees a dip in temperature—tartrates are less soluble at cold temperatures.
There are certain adjustments winemakers can make to a must wine, pre or post-fermentation. The goal is always to make a more balanced wine, so any and all adjustments should be monitored and measured carefully. Also note that, in many regions, the amount of adjustment(s) that can be made are strictly regulated.
I find I get the pre- and post-fermentation adjustments confused, so thought I’d create a little study guide here. Enjoy.