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Organic wine boom stems from baby food

Consumer interest in organic wines was kick started by the trend for organic baby food, according to one of Chile’s leading organic producers.

Emiliana uses horses rather than tractors

Speaking to the drinks business at Vinexpo this week, Rafael Guilisasti, director of Emiliana, said: “It all started with organic baby food around 20 years ago made from things like apples.

“The adults feeding it to their children decided they wanted in on organic and started taking a greater interest in organic wines, which in turn grew the industry.

“People have an emotional response to organic wines – they feel good about buying them and drinking them.”

Demand for organic whites is on the rise

Emiliana, which boasts 850 hectares of certified organic and biodynamic vineyards, making it one of the largest organic wineries in the world, is seeing increased demand for its wines as consumer interest in green products grows.

“There’s a big demand for our organic wines today – consumer interest in the category has grown very fast. We’re seeing 10% year on year growth.

“If it carries on at this rate the availability of organic grapes might become a problem. We might need to expand our output to cope with the demand,” Guilisasti said.

“There is a growing thirst for organic whites at the moment, so we recently increased our plantings of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in Casablanca and Riesling in Bío Bío,” he added.

The estate started converting to organic viticulture in 1998 and is now 100% certified.

“You really need to believe passionately in the cause to do it as it’s not easy. We were close to giving up on a number of occasions,” Guilisasti admitted.

However, the hard work has paid off, as he believes that being organic leads to better balanced grapes.

“We stress the vines out so they need to find their own source of nutrients. As a result, the roots go deeper into the soil, which increases its fertility. The grapes are more balanced in character and are higher quality due to reduced yields,” he said.

Emilana is experimenting with making “natural” wines without sulphites, though the project is still in its infancy and there are no plans as yet to release the results.

The estate has just released Chile’s first 100% organic sparkler made with 77% Chardonnay and 23% Pinot Noir.

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