natural wine, made from grapes

The Grapehunters’ Criteria

Healthy Grapes 

To make a good quality natural wine, grapes have to come from a healthy vineyard. This means a vineyard free from chemical fertilizers and with a rich microflora ecosystem, which requirers a lot of effort and dedication from the winegrower. Such a way of farming is indicated by the terms ‘biodynamic’ and ‘organic’. What differentiates a natural wine from organic and biodynamic wine, is what happens next with the grapes in the winery. Even in organic wine, the winemaker can use up to 50 (!) different additives to create a wine from perfectly healthy organic grapes. The term natural implies that during the process of winemaking nothing is added that might alter the course of nature. Natural wine just consists of grapes and a lot of love and care, nothing else. A truly pure and natural product!

Wild Fermentation

Yeasts are responsible for the fermentation of grape sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and various complex flavour compounds. Native yeasts can be anywhere, in the vineyard, on the grapes and around the cellar. Conventional winemakers are looking to eliminate these native yeasts as much as possible, and add commercially selected yeast strains instead. This provides the wine with certain aromas that are expected by most consumers. Natural winemakers on the other hand, are looking to have as much native yeasts around as possible. They let these yeasts do what they should do, resulting in a wine with the most honest reflection and preservation of the land and grapes itself. These aromas can definitely be odd and unexpected, but we encourage you to open up and indulge yourself in this wild world of flavour!

Unfined and Unfiltered 

Our curated wines typically come unfined and unfiltered. You may notice they have a cloudy appearance along with sediment at the bottom of the bottle. This is actually bits of grapes and yeast cells that occur naturally in the wine after pressing and fermentation and are completely harmless. Fining and filtering are manipulation techniques used by conventional wine producers after pressing to clarify the wine and get rid of unwanted bacteria. In unfined and unfiltered wines, the bacteria are not filtered out, instead, they carry out a second fermentation (the malolactic fermentation) that reduces the sharp acidity and increases stability in the wine. So instead of eliminating all native yeasts and bacteria to increase control and predictability, natural wine makers embrace all these microbes during the process. This makes the wines alive and full of interesting aromas, while also maintaining stability in a natural way!

Zero/Low Added Sulfites 

In every wine, including natural wines, sulfites are naturally present in low and harmless levels. They are one of thousands chemical by-products created during the fermentation process. Sulphur dioxide, a type of sulfite, is both an antimicrobial and antioxidant and can also be added by winemakers to protect the wine again oxidation, bacteria and unwanted native yeast strains that can make a wine seem off. Many (conventional) winemakers would tell you that winemaking without adding sulfur dioxide is impossible because of the high risk on faults, while the best wines we tried did not have any added sulfur! For some particularly sensitive people, sulfites cause headaches and stuffy sinuses after a glass or two. In addition, natural wine producers argue that adding extra sulfites flatten the taste of wine and are therefore keen to keep them to an absolute minimum. In our selected red and white wines, the level of sulfites added by the winemakers is between 0 mg/L white to 30 mg/L, depending on the winemaker we work with and always documented on our labels. To compare: in organic wine the level of sulfites may contain up to 120 mg/L, and in conventional wine this is up to 200 mg/L. Take a sip of our wines and see for yourself if you can taste the difference!