Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
— Lao Tzu
Raw wines are biodynamic, organic, and mostly unadulterated. They are sometimes unpredictable, but akin to choosing fresh, alive foods from the garden. As the winemakers and enthusiasts I invited to share with us will attest, these wines evoke meaningful connection conferred through nature.
While no unified definition exists within the wine industry for raw wine, two things are certain:
1 | The movement has caused wine drinkers to carefully consider their sourcing, and
2 | This trend has spurred conventional winemakers to look at and begin shifting their practices from how they grow grapes — everything from their cellaring practices to how they package.
According to the International Raw Wine Fair that lands annually in Montreal, NYC, and Los Angeles: “Raw Wine celebrates wines with emotion. Wines that have a humanlike, or living, presence. They are also wines that are an authentic expression of a place. They are the polar opposite of industrialized, big-brand, manufactured, nothing-but-alcoholic-grape-juice wines, that use imagery and suggestion to sell a product.”
If there’s anyone who can speak to the lively nature of biodynamic wines, it’s France’s only female master of wine, author, and the founder of the Raw Wine Fair, Isabelle Legeron.
Legeron describes the many ways natural wines can benefit us. Firstly, those who farm these delights generally give back more than they take from the land. They are people so deeply connected to their land that you can’t help but feel connected too.
“Since the juice is not manipulated in the cellar, it is a frank representation of a specific place and time,” says the raw wine expert. “Given that you are actually drinking a wine replete with the yeast and bacteria that grew in that vineyard, on those berries, and made for that specific wine, you are also literally drinking a living piece of a place.”
The pesticide-free grapes used to make raw wine thrive through yeast to encourage natural fermentation, much unlike the homogenization of larger, bulk wines. While a vast majority of conventional wines teach us how wine ought to taste, raw, natural wines teach us about possibility.
Guido Cattabianchi, founder of Primal Wine in LA was born and raised in Valpolicella, a wine region near Verona, Italy. “For me, wine is a way to feel less homesick,” says the winemaker. Cattabianchi honors the old-country traditions by offering wines from grapes sustainably farmed by small growers, hand-harvested, and transformed into wine following a low intervention approach as naturally as possible without using any chemicals in the cellar.
When you’ve gone to these lengths to ensure quality, it really makes you think of the entire production process — all the way to the customer’s hands. Indeed, all of Primal Wine’s packaging is produced via recycled materials.
Emily Towe, co-founder of SoCal’s soulful living winery, J. Brix says, “One of the most exciting things about making wine this way is that it requires you to pay attention to the growing year as a whole. Your life becomes bound by the seasonal rhythms of the vineyard and the cellar, and you learn a little more about each site every year. Our goal is to let the sites tell their stories through our wines, and we hope that our translations become increasingly nuanced as we and these vines get to know one another and grow older together, one vintage at a time.”
Raw wine is about meaningful connection — a cue we can take for the holidays ahead.
Meredith Baird, natural wine enthusiast and the author of multiple books on raw and plant-based foods, invited me to a glass of unfiltered biodynamic white wine a few years ago and I was absolutely hooked by its sublime nature. “We tend to think very shortsightedly about nutrition. We like to lump things together, and the nutritive value of alcohol doesn’t get very high on the list,” says Baird. “What we fail to consider, though, is the vibration of what we are consuming — and the holidays are the perfect time to imbibe mindfully.”
Enjoying a natural wine created by a winemaker who is a steward of the land is much different than consuming mass produced spirits or drinking out of sadness. A proper libation can be a means of bringing people together, honoring the ritual of a meal shared, enhancing your digestion naturally, and lightening the spirit!
Which sounds like a vibe we can toast to!
Our Favorites to Share or Gift for the Holidays —
J. Brix Rougarou Carignan 2017
Notes: Black tea leaves and orange peel.
La Clarine Farm Mo-Ma 2017
Notes: Earthy, light, herbal, cherry-vanilla.
Swick Wines Pinot Noir 2017
Notes: Violet and small berries, earthy palate with black fruit and hints of clove.
Christine Dionese, co-founder of flavor ID is an integrative health and food therapy specialist and wellness, lifestyle, and food journalist. She has dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health by harnessing the power of the epigenetic landscape. Christine lives, works, and plays in Southern California with her husband and daughter.