For three decades, Bonterra Organic Vineyards has been inspired by the purity of organic fruit grown in its Mendocino County vineyards. Celebrating its 30th year of organic farming in 2017, Bonterra has evolved from a niche label catering to a small but passionate audience to the U.S. leading wine made from organically grown grapes, with year over year growth significantly outpacing the broader wine category.
Today, Bonterra will be recognized as American Winery of the Year at the annual Wine Star Awards ceremony hosted by Wine Enthusiast magazine in Miami, Florida. It will be the first time the American Winery of the Year award is bestowed on a vintner dedicated to organic farming, and signals the blossoming acclaim and popularity of this once-niche segment of the wine landscape.
Organic Grapes the Foundation of Quality Wines
“We’ve been farming organically since 1987, and we’ve done so because we feel that organic grapes truly make the best wines,” said Jeff Cichocki, Bonterra Winemaker. “We were pioneers at the beginning of the organic movement, and we continue to evolve and lead with research into best practices for organic farming. It’s an ongoing journey and we’re compelled to succeed by the incredible quality and flavor of organic grapes.”
Originally inspired by the quality of organically farmed vegetables, Bonterra’s founding team was among the first in California to embrace organic farming practices for grapevines. By 1993, long before organic products lined the shelves of neighborhood grocers, wines bearing Bonterra’s name and the phrase “Made with organic grapes” debuted. The wines’ signature style, offering purity of flavor alongside balanced character, laid the foundation for a loyal following that continues to grow today while contributing to expanded interest in the organically farmed wine category. In 2016, Bonterra saw domestic growth of more than 20%,1 and the brand can be found in all 50 U.S. states and in 23 countries around the world.
“Congratulations and many thanks to Bonterra for producing excellent wine that is advancing consumer awareness of high quality, sustainably farmed wine from organic grapes,” said Cathy Calfo, Executive Director & CEO of California Certified Organic Farmers (“CCOF”), of Bonterra’s award and industry stewardship.
Interest in Organics Is Growing
Studies show that U.S. consumer interest in products with organic credentials, including wine, has never been greater. This growing passion for products crafted from organic ingredients is consistent with a blooming cultural awareness of food sourcing and provenance that is inherent in today’s mainstream consciousness:
- Demand for organic products has grown annually by double digits since the 1990s, with organic sales increasing over tenfold from $3.6 billion in 1997 to over $39 billion by 2014
- Sales of organic products exceed $39 billion, $35.9 billion of which – 92% – is for organic food
- 51% of families are buying more organic products than a year ago2
- 40% of consumers view organic and sustainable credentials as important when considering wine, and 50% of those consumers are Millennials.3
Spreading Organic Farming across California
Having observed the benefits of organic farming on quality and flavor for 30 years, Bonterra has engaged grape growers across California to transition existing vineyards to organic farming practices. By providing education and support for farm partners interested in evolving their practices to comply with the likes of CCOF regulations for organic farming, Bonterra is helping to expand overall organic acreage in the state. Worldwide, organically farmed acreage hovers at around just 1% of global farmland.4 Because organic farming provides numerous beneficial results including carbon sequestration in soils and greater biodiversity, growing California’s certified organic acreage benefits the environment as well as consumers. To date, Bonterra has helped transition scores of California farms to organic practices, with plans to continue the program in 2017 and beyond.
Proud to have been a catalyst for the expansion of the organically farmed wine category, Bonterra’s team will continue to craft wines of quality for the growing set of consumers interested in organically farmed goods.