Vegan or not Vegan, That is the question!
Why do we choose to make vegan wines? Good question! As “Veganuary” draws to a close, we thought we’d use this as a chance to share some detail around our approach to winemaking, explaining why our wines are vegan and the choices winemakers make that affect whether a wine is vegan or not.
Most wines are not vegan friendly due to the use of varied additives manufactured from animal products, including things such as egg whites, fish bones, and gelatine that are all commonly used. These additives are used in wineries to allow accelerated processes to ready a finished wine, thus providing time and cost savings. However, a high quality, finished and consistent wine can be achieved through fastidious attention to detail, more labour intensive processes and vegan raw materials.
From the very beginning, we have endeavoured to follow a sustainable and minimalistic philosophy aimed at creating the best varietal expression of the source fruit in our wine. To achieve this, we take a minimal intervention approach in the winery, respecting the fruit and the terroir. That approach allows us to generally avoid a number of interventions that can turn fermented grape juice into a non-vegan product.
Now, let’s talk shop! Here is a walk through of the key process where the non-vegan additives are commonly used:
Clarification and filtration
Winemakers may opt to clarify in order to get a crystal clear finish on wines. There is a two step process in order to create this. The key one is filtration, where wine is passed through a series of filters or diatomaceous earth (ground rock sediment) to capture the very small particles and residue that can cloud a wine.
In order to aid filtration, a further process is one that may be employed, called fining. Fining is the addition of a range of agents prior to filtering, as means to bind together the various elements through a positive/negative attraction, kind of like a magnetic attraction, that cause haze - proteins, tartrates, tannins and phenolics. By binding, they clump and can be readily removed through filtration. Many fining agents are non-vegan, for example gelatine (animal fat), casein (milk based) isinglass (fish bladders) and egg white / egg albumin. There are also things such as bentonite (clay) used to fine as an alternative to the other products. In 2017, we chose to only filter one wine, our rosé, and we did that without fining the wine. We filtered to ensure a crystal clear finish of the wine. For our subsequent releases we favoured a carefully monitored racking or soutirage (the process of siphoning wine from one container to another to remove sediment) using gravity where possible, to achieve a clear finish without an unnecessary intervention. This has resulted in uncompromised flavours which we think you would agree is helping us produce the best product that we can.
So, there we are! A little bit wiser and little more entertained (hopefully!)