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What are natural and low intervention wines and why everyone is talking about them

It’s time to say goodbye to conventional wine

Making wine should be a natural process. You pick the grapes, crush them and let yeast convert its sugars into alcohol, that’s it. It turns out, modern winemaking is more complicated than that, and it all starts in the vineyard. 

As with any other conventional farming, growers are often inclined to using herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilisers to produce healthy-ish grapes cheaply. The downside is that the stuff can end up in the wine. 

Low intervention practices in the vineyard do the exact opposite. Conscious minded growers use natural fertilisers and remedies to keep their vines healthy.

Then there’s the work in the winery. To turn grape juice into wine, conventional producers sterilise the grape must with a hefty addition

sulphur dioxide (SO2) and then add a store-bought packet of winemaking yeast. 

Advocates for low intervention winemaking, often allow the grapes to ferment on their own with ambient yeast, which renders more complex and interesting wines. 

Conventional winemakers can also add anything to their wines to make them ‘better’. Powdered acid, tannins, colourants, clarifiers, and fining agents are only a few of the tools of the modern winemaker, and it’s easy to see why these altered wines sound un-appetizing.

Low intervention winemakers will do the least possible to their wines, from grape to bottle, allowing nature to take its course.

Knowing this, which type of wine sounds more appealing to you?

Are low intervention wines really so different?

Wine can be a soul-less, industrial affair made in a factory or they it be a form of art, an artisanal, hand crafted product made by caring people. 

Industrial wines taste good, sure. Winemakers do everything, and we mean everything in their power to make the wines taste nice, but the wine lacks a sense of place, or what the French call ‘terroir’.

Low intervention wines are tasty too, but there’s more — they’re exciting, unique and can be quite complex. When you allow the wine to take its natural course, the results are always unexpected. They’re also a picture-perfect reflection of their birthplace, their terroir in its purest expression.

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