There exists much confusion around “natural farming and winemaking” as it contains a vast quantity of interpretations as to how to proceed. Like Jamie Good pointed out in one of the chapters of his book “Wine Science”: Naturalness in wine; how much manipulation is acceptable?
Myself I feel much related to the North-American Indian principle of trying as much as possible not to disturb the land one walks on, understanding at the same time that with every footstep, we damage the vegetal world. I personally feel this is a good vision to bear in mind when cultivating land, especially when we are preparing land for a new vineyard, in order to damage as least as possible and thinking about restoring equilibrium.
As for the winemaking part, I believe a “natural wine” is wine without anything added. Period. All other wines are manipulated, one way or another.
Many times the question rises which group is the most natural: organic, bio-dynamic, Fukuoka, macrobiotic, some “crazy individual”, …? In the end, all these people work with a certain philosophy and respect for the land. The quantity of naturalness is and will always be difficult to measure. How far one wants to go is, to my opinion, a personal risk calculation as well as a philosofical issue, related to one’s territory.
When I started farming in 2001, I was a very strong opponent of the legislation around the “naturalness” of farming because of the difficulty of defining this matter. After having had long discussions and talks with other winemakers like Angiolino Maule, Nicolas Joly, and many others, I have decided to have my entire estate controlled and checked according to BIO and USDA organic standards as this is so far the only legally accepted standard of “natural farming”. This procedure officially started in 2007 and we are a certified organic farm as of 2010, although we will always have some new parcel in a “conversion phase” as we acquire gradually small parcels of land.
The main reason for this “mental change” has been the fact that any person can declare he or she makes a natural product. But who checks and guarantees this? As I don’t want to waste anymore time in endless and useless discussions as to how natural my products are, I now have an authority that controls my estate and certifies it. The real guarantee of a product however is given by the reputation of the producer.
I look at it this way: the SUOLO & SALUTE organization checks and certifies the legal standard of “naturalness” and myself as the producer, I guarantee the “full-stretch-beyond-bio”!
Our Certification registration numbers are:
NOP/USDA ORGANIC: # ITASS US 932
BIOLOGICO: # ASS32282CT6878