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Natural Wine: What It Is And Where To Find It

Written by: Adam Sternberger

Natural Wine: What It Is And Where To Find It

So we’ve removed the Cellar and replaced it with a space that we’re excited to talk about: Lola’s Little Shop. This new space will feature wines produced by smaller family farmers using minimally-invasive winemaking techniques with an emphasis on sustainable, biodynamic, and organic wines.

Why the switch? We feel wine shouldn’t be intimidating, so we ripped off the doors and made the new space more accessible to everyone! More importantly, we want you to know where your wine is coming from. Much like our belief in food, we believe the 'less is more' approach is a better route for our culture and our environment. We want everyone to be able to enjoy good food and wine while leaving as little a footprint behind as possible!

That said, the vast majority of wines in this new space will fall into the category of “natural wines.” Natural wines are “having a moment” right now, as the kids would say, and for good reason.

Here are some of the basics for those who are new to natural wine:

What are Natural Wines?

Currently, in the wine world, there is no official definition of “natural wine.” We like to think of it as the untamed, unfiltered, and unphotoshopped version of wine. A more scientific definition would be:

"Natural Wine is farmed organically (biodynamically, using permaculture or the like) and made (or rather transformed) without adding or removing anything in the cellar. No additives or processing aids are used, and 'intervention' in the naturally occurring fermentation process is kept to a minimum." - RAW WINE

Basically, it’s wine made by producers using minimal intervention. This might mean:

  • Using native yeast and allowing for natural fermentation

  • Omitting the use of man-made pesticides

  • Making the wine without adding sulfites (outside of those produced naturally during fermentation)

  • Keeping the wine unfiltered

  • Relying only on rainwater

  • Etc.

Why should I drink Natural Wine?

Generally, natural wines are produced by small scale independent producers. Many of them are handpicking grapes from their own sustainable, organic, or biodynamic vineyards. These are the families and farmers we want to support because they’re running small businesses--just like us!

Because these wines are made mostly using the resources produced on the farm, in the vineyard, and in the cellar, you eliminate a lot of extra steps that could have a negative impact on the environment. Think about it: when a winemaker uses commercially produced fertilizer, that fertilizer has to be created, packaged, and shipped--that uses up a lot of resources! So by doing things like taking care of their own soil through natural methods like crop rotation, these producers leave a much smaller footprint--making it better in the long haul for our environment.

Plus, these wines can really show off a sense of place and culture! By limiting or eliminating the use of outside resources, these producers are able to show off the region in which their wines are produced. 

What should I expect from Natural Wines?

Expect the unexpected. In most cases, natural wines will not taste like the wines you’re used to--even when they’re made of grapes you’ve heard of before. This is “living” wine, so it’s always a bit funky, yeasty, and can look a bit cloudy. These wines can range from extremely fresh and fruit-forward to very earthy and gamey. If you’ve ever had a sour beer or saison, you’ll probably recognize some of the same flavors and characteristics.

That said, don’t be afraid to try it! Sure, it’s a little different than what you’re used to, but just like with classic and conventional wines, we believe there is a natural wine out there for everyone. Drink them with a slight chill and an open mind. Stick them in the fridge for 15 minutes (yes, including reds) before you enjoy--it’ll make a difference, trust us.

Wait, so does that mean you’re getting rid of my favorite go-to wines?

Not at all! The traditions of wine are what made us fall in love with this industry in the first place. We will never neglect the history of wine, the classics, or customer demand. Even if natural wines aren’t your thing, you’ll still be able to find your favorite bottles here.

Phew, okay. So where can I find Natural Wine?

Since there is no official certification for natural wines, they are not always the easiest to spot. You can, of course, find them in "Lola’s Little Shop," but if you are somewhere else, the easiest way to find them is to look on the back label for specific importers that only import natural wines. These Importers are Kermit Lynch, Louis/Dresser, and Brazos Wine Imports.

Who’s Lola?

Lola is our office/warehouse dog and team motivator. She might steal a lunch or two every once in a while, but she makes the whole team smile on a daily basis. We can only try to enjoy life as much as she does!

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