Ridge Vineyards backs full disclosure on labels

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  • Monday 13 May 2013

California's Ridge Vineyards has thrown its weight behind full disclosure of ingredients on wine labels.

Ridge Geyserville 2011 Label

California's Ridge Vineyards has thrown its weight behind full disclosure of ingredients on wine labels, beginning with its 2011 vintage.

From its 2011 vintage onwards, Ridge Vineyards, which refers to its winemaking approach as 'pre-industrial', is adding to labels a list of ingredients it uses, such as sustainably grown grapes, calcium carbonate, indigenous yeasts and minimum effective SO2.

By doing so, it is eschewing additives such as Mega Purple, a 2000-to-1 concentrate from red grapes that adds texture, body and color, and dimethyl dicarbonate, a chemical known commercially as Velocorin that eliminates Brettanomyces along with any other living organism in a wine.

Its move adds weight to those who argue full-disclosure offers more transparency for wine drinkers.

Around 60 additives, many of them natural, are approved as safe for use in winemaking in the US. An ingredients list is not manadatory, but if a winery includes one it must list all ingredients.

'We've been debating this for a long time,' Ridge's VP of winemaking, Eric Baugher, told Decanter.com.

'Our crops give us the ingredients to make good wines without fidgeting with the process. Paul [Draper] wanted to do this as far back as the '80s and even created labels which were rejected by the BATF.

'Once Randall Grahm [Bonny Doon Vineyards] received TTB approval and did it in 2007, we considered it again.'

When asked how full-disclosure has impacted Bonny Doon, founder Randall Grahm said, 'to my great chagrin, though no real surprise, people haven't really noticed nor cared one way or the other…but it's definitely the right thing to do.

'It will probably require a critical mass of producers joining us for the issue to get the attention it needs. Ridge doing this could be a catalyst for more things to come.'

'Honesty is always the best policy,' added Megan Metz, executive director of Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, which counts Ridge and Bonny Doon as members.

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