People are often willing to pay more for organic meat and produce, expecting higher quality products and a smaller impact on the environment. Wine is a different story. Wine lovers tend to be suspicious of organic offerings, but a new study shows they might be missing out on some high quality quaffs.
The numbers came from 11 years of wine ratings from Wine Spectator,Wine Enthusiast, and Wine Advocate. These magazines all use blind testing to rate wines on a 100-point scale, and their ratings are widely respected by consumers.
But even with a favorable rating, eco-friendly wines have a bad reputation with many wine shoppers. “There’s a negative perception of organic wine,” says Magali Delmas, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and one of the authors of the study.
Wine producers are increasingly using environmentally friendly practices, such as organic grape-growing and biodynamics—and not advertising that on their labels. Wineries don’t want their product relegated to a corner and ignored by customers, so “only one-third of wineries who have adopted certification put it on their label,” Delmas says.
Grapes produced organically require a lot of labor, because every weed and bug must be removed by hand. But wineries end up with “better grapes to work with,” Delmas says. Switching to organic grapes can raise overall vineyard production costs by as much as 15% for the first few years, but eventually the costs even out. Meanwhile, that additional early investment and labor translates to a permanent 13% price increase—as long as the wine isn’t labeled as organic.