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Vegan Wines is dedicated to bringing you wine that is animal-friendly. When I email, visit, and call up wineries to learn more about exactly how their grapes are grown and fertilized, I often get the same response: “I will need to check and get back to you.” More often than not, when I ask if wineries are vegan from the soil up, they aren’t sure. This is because lots of wineries and vineyards think they can call their wines “vegan” so long as they aren’t using animal products to fine their wines. (Fining is the process of removing sediments like yeast or grape solids, and it often involves derivatives of egg whites, fish bladders, and milk proteins.) So the next time you see "vegan" printed on the back of a wine bottle, remember that this usually only means “vegan” with regard to the fining method. In order to be totally cruelty-free, I’d also ask what sort of fertilizer the vineyards use in their soil. Unfortunately, if an animal has to suffer or die to produce the fertilizer for the grapes, can the final product really be considered vegan or animal-friendly?
Many wineries source their grapes from different vineyards and sadly, some of them don't know what goes into that soil. This is a question we ask every time we search for wines that are vegan. When I first started my research, I frequently heard the comment, “No animal products are left after fining the wine.” In my opinion, if you overlook the soil, animal products may be in the actual grape before the winemaking process has even started. I recently visited a winery where they utilize fish fertilizer in their soil. At the wine tasting, I learned that the vineyard was very earth conscious and that’s why they chose fish fertilizers over chemical fertilizers. I wanted to hear their reasoning for using animal-based fertilizers to understand the full story. If I weren’t a vegan or perhaps wasn’t aware of the plastic that fish are consuming, that explanation would probably make a lot of sense to me! I chose my way of life years ago and I’ve learned that listening to other people’s views is one of the best ways to offer answers and alternatives. Yes, chemical fertilizers are harmful in many ways, yet there are so many other fertilizers that don’t harm any animals or contain chemicals.
During my visits to vineyards, I’ve found a few that make their own fertilizers from the leftover grapes, vines, plants, and produce. Those are all totally vegan options for fertilizing vineyards. The Vegan Vine, for instance, uses mushrooms. To learn even more on this subject, I contacted veganic farms to learn about what sort of fertilizers they typically use. The list of options is longer than you might think! It includes compost, seaweed, potash, wood ashes, Epsom salts, comfrey, and many more plant and mineral-based products. Vegan agriculture generally relies on green manures, companion planting, and crop rotation. If you’d like to learn more about vegan fertilizers, here’s a great guide that the people at The Halstead Farm referred to us:Avoiding animal products in soil isn’t easy and it’s an ongoing dilemma for vegans and those striving to live a cruelty-free lifestyle. The food industry is far from transparent, and I realize that not everyone has the time, means, or opportunity to dive this deep into where their food comes from. But at Vegan Wines, we’ve made it our mission to do that research for you - at least when it comes to the wine you’re drinking. We’re doing our best to obtain wine that’s animal-friendly and cruelty-free from the vine to the glass. Part of the reason I've written this blog post is to encourage alternative methods of fertilizing vineyards. I hope those winemakers who strive to produce vegan wines will consider where their grapes are grown and I hope that more vineyard owners will consider using animal-friendly fertilizers in the near future.