Ever since we planted our first grapevines in 1998, we’ve strived for healthy soil and robust vines. Our vineyard is certified organic. Tractor use in the vineyard comes after ground birds have fledged and left their nests. With the exception of yeast, we do not use animal products (fish bladders, egg yolks, for example) or gluten in our winemaking.
Sulfites, or sulfur dioxide, are preservatives winemakers use for antioxidant and antibacterial property. Sulfites help maintain freshness in wine. More than 99% of commercial wines contain sulfites. Some winemakers tend to have a heavy hand using sulfites for extra preservation. The limit allowed in the U.S. is 350 parts per million (ppm). In the European Union, the maximum amount of sulfites are 210 ppm for white wine, 400 ppm for sweet wines and 160 ppm for red wine.
We have not added sulfites at all until recently, but in order to stabilize some of our more delicate wines, I decided to use a minimum amount of sulfites. We use less than the “Made with Organic” standard, which allows up to 100 ppm.
The Old World concept of terroir is about wine reflecting the soil and the nature of a place where the grapes are grown and the wine is made. Our winery is about producing local wine. Part of our production is from fruit grown locally and part from grapes grown in the Northwest. We take pride in the fact that we engage in all phases of grape growing and harvesting, winemaking, bottling, labeling and marketing our wines.
When you see “produced and bottled by” on a wine label, that means the winery actually made the wine. It is a federal requirement to have proof of fermentation on the premises to use this phrase on labels.
“Vinted and bottled by” means the winery did not make the wine. Vinted simply means cellared. Also, there is no requirement to provide proof that wine is actually cellared and bottled at the winery to have this on a label, so wine with this label can be made, cellared and bottled anywhere.
These distinctions are important for people who want to experience the terroir of a wine and support locally made wines as opposed to pre-packaged bulk wines.
Here’s to many bountiful harvests and Great Montana Wine!