Get ready to be mind blown and disgusted, and converted to a Dry Farm Wines subscription by the end of this post. I’m talking all about natural vs. conventional wine production, plus I review Dry Farm Wine in 2023. It’s about to get REAL.
By: Lisa Fennessy
Let me first start by saying, anyone who knows me, knows I’m no stranger to a good cab franc, cab sab, malbec…heck, I’ll even throw merlot in there because I’m inclusive like that. But let’s take a minute and talk about what’s going on, and in, that bottle of wine we pick up at the corner packie.
IN THIS POST
- Ingredients to consider in conventional wine (aka additives).
- Meet Dry Farm Wines, the natural option.
- Common questions about Dry Farm Wines.
- What sets Dry Farm Wines apart.
- Where to buy organic wine.
- Get a bottle of wine for JUST A PENNY.
Ingredients to consider in conventional wine
In the US, wine producers can use up to 76 different additives in wine without disclosing any of them on the bottle. SEVENTY SIX. And I’m not talking about salt ladies. More like:
- defoaming agents
- artificial coloring (virtually every red wine under $20 has the colorant “mega purple”)
- extra sugar
- high fructose corn syrup
- ammonia (hello hangover!)
- GMO bacteria and yeasts
- fining and clarifying agents like fish bladder, casein or polyvinyl-polpyr-rolidone (PVPP)
- (Not to mention most non-organic and even some organic wines contain traces of pesticides and herbicides)
Thirty-eight of the 76 additives are considered “GRAS”—a FDA acronym for Generally Regarded As Safe…. the others? Not so much I guess. One of the biggest benefits for winemakers is these additives provide control over taste and color so wines taste, and look, the same year after year. It also makes them faster (AKA cheaper) to produce.
For a more extensive list of additives, check out this list of approved wine additives.
But beep, beep, beep…back it up for a min. Mega purple??? This is a super-concentrated colorant some winemakers add to their wines to change the color and/or add sweetness. I’m jumping ahead of myself but one thing I noticed about Dry Farm Wines right away was the reds were paler than “normal.” People automatically associate depth of color to depth of flavor and winemakers know it. So they add additional color and flavor to get a wine there. (And it’s usually the reason why people get purple teeth by the way!)
Oh and after talking to Dry Farm, I learned that 52% of the wine made in the US is made by just three giant companies. These three companies produce behind thousands of labels and brands—some of which are worded to make us believe we are drinking farm to bottle. But instead, we are actually drinking additive filled, altered, grape product.
And this is so true! Last time I was in New York with my friend Molly, we tried picking up some wine from a bodega and ALL the bottles they had for sale didn’t even say wine on them, they said “wine product”—I don’t even think it was made from grapes.
To add insult to injury, conventional wine producers often kill indigenous yeasts (using heat, SO2 and filtration) and instead use genetically modified commercial, lab-bred yeast strains that have been designed with specific flavors and to speed up production. Today, most US wines are made with GM yeasts.
AND, most commercial wines are bottled before they fully ferment to speed up the production and (you guessed it) maximize profits. Some producers also add sugar or high fructose corn syrup to their wine to appeal to a sweeter American palate and to boost the alcohol content. Sugar in wine can be has high as 300g/L (a liter of coke has 108g BTW and WTH!)
And P.S. the only way to know the sugar content of a wine is to actually lab test it.
After a trip to Paris, I spent years looking for “sulfite-free” wines. Well, come to find out I was on a goose chase because technically it’s impossible to make a completely sulfite-free wine. Why? Because wine yeast actually produces sulfur dioxide (SO2) during the fermentation process. And SO2 becomes sulfite when combined with oxygen – so any sulfur in wine will eventually become, you got it, sulfite.
Some winemakers will add SO2 to preserve and sterilize their wines because sulfites have an antioxidant and antibacterial effect on the wine. Sulfites are FDA approved as a food additive and not toxic (unless you are sulfur sensitive) or carcinogenic but winemakers argue they alter the flavor, soul, and personality wines. You will find wines with upwards of 350/400 ppm sulfites, Dry Farm draws the line at 75 ppm.
Let’s be frank. Pesticides in our wine are NOT CUTE. The amount of pesticides sprayed on vines is in an upward trend. In 2010 more than 400,000 pounds of Roundup was applied to wine grapes. Monsanto’s Round-Up is the most common herbicide used in U.S. vineyards today. If you want to dive a little deeper, there are several conflicting studies on the health effects of Roundup. Either way, I’ll take my glass of wine pesticide-free, please.
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Dry Farm Wines review
The sad thing is, I could go on and on but why beat a dead horse? We get it. Conventional wine is disgusting. So let’s talk about some natural wine options. One in particular: Dry Farm Wines.
Dry Farm Wines is the largest buyer and reseller of natural wines in the world. They source, taste and lab test organic, natural and biodynamic wines worldwide THEN deliver it to your door monthly or every other month. (It’s like a monthly nontoxic beauty box, sub wine!) Here’s what’s up.
Natural wine, defined by Dry Farm Wines, is real wine made from healthy grapes and happy yeast. It’s nature at its best IMO. To be considered natural, wines are farmed organically and/or biodynamically, free of chemical sprays, additives and fermented with native yeast.
There are so many bennies here but I have to start out with the the one that knocked my socks off: taste.
Wait, first let me say, next to the birth of my two sons, arriving home to 6 bottles of organic/biodynamic Dry Farm Wines at my door was literally the best day of my life. Little did I know it was only about to get better.
I got the mixed delivery, which included three reds, a rose, a sparkling white and a sparkling rose.
- 2015 Les Larmes De Divona Pinot Nior (red)
- 2016 Giuseppe Cortese Red Wine (red)
- 2015 Boniperti Vignaioli CArLiN (red)
- 2016 Domaine De Majas L’AMOUROUSE Cotes Catalanes (rose)
- Cintré French Rose Sparkling Rose
- 2010 Cava PERE MATA L’Ensamblatge (brute)
Started with the reds, obvi. Each one was better than the next, I could hardly contain myself. Light, beautiful in flavor, easy to drink, smooth, delicious and elegant. Real crowd-pleasers. And we are not talking crazy money. I mean, it’s a nice investment for sure with each bottle working out to be around $25, but it’s not outrageous. (Plus, it tasted like I was drinking a $50 bottle easily. One time I ordered a $38 glass of wine in Vegas—and I can say with 100% certainty, all of Dry Farm Wines tasted better than that one glass!)
The argument around price here is really the same. A 3 lb pastured/organic chicken will run you $25 compared to a $7.99 conventional one. Sliced white bread is .99 per loaf while stone-ground, handmade sourdough will run you $10.
It’s nothing new, just another illustration of the old saying, “You get what you pay for.” This is just another opportunity to vote with your dollar when you buy natural wine. And like I always say, let’s be mindful with our purchases and create economy around products we want to see.
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Common questions about Dry Farm Wines
Dry Farm Wines is the largest buyer and reseller of natural wines in the world. All their wines are sourced from winemakers using ‘dry farming methods.’ Read my review here.
No. You can get Dry Farm Wines subscriptions here.
No. Dry Farm Wines has a subscription service where you can purchase their wines.
You can subscribe to get 3, 6 or 12 bottles of wine monthly or every other month. One-time purchases start at around $88.
Yes. #micdrop – But also, if you get a bottle you don’t like, Dry Farm will replace it for free with their happiness guarantee.
Dry farming relies on natural rainfall for growing grapes. It produces a better tasting (less diluted) grape and it’s overall more sustainable for the land.
What sets Dry Farm Wines Apart?
I thought Dry Farm was just the company’s name but actually all their wines are sourced from winemakers who use “dry farming methods.” Dry farming relies on natural rainfall for growing grapes. This is easy for regions in Europe like Bordeax and Burgundy where rainfall is frequent. And actually in most European regions irrigation is illegal.
Why? Well, dry farming saves 16,000 gallons of water per acre annually, it produces a better tasting (less diluted) grape and it’s overall more sustainable for the land. BUT because dry farming produces lower crop yields its used by less than 1% of US vineyards.
In addition, EVERY BOTTLE of wine that Dry Farm Wines delivers is:
- Lab tested internally for sugar, alcohol content and sulfur levels
- Sugar free (<1g/L) (less hangovers)
- Less calories at 80-90 per glass VS 120-150 minimum for commercial
- Low sulfites (only natural occurring at < 75 ppm. The US standard is 350 ppm)
- Low alcohol (no more than 12% to retain the finer notes and make it more enjoyable)
- Mycotoxin/mold-free (see below)
- Free of additives and preservatives
- Dry farmed, grown without the use of irrigation
- Grapes are natural, organic or biodynamically grown
- Grapes are hand harvested
- Old growth vines, generally 35-100 years old
- Fermented with wild native yeast
- Made in small productions
- Paleo and Keto friendly
Get a bottle of Dry Farm Wine for just a penny! Yep, you heard me right. I hooked you UP.
Yeah. You read that right! I also want to elaborate on the mycotoxin issue. So mycotoxin Ochratoxin A (OCA) is a known carcinogen. The EU standard for screening is less than 2 parts per billion. For context, OCA in coffee is allowed in the E.U. up to 10 parts per billion. There is no required testing for OCA in the United States. (I can’t). Dry Farms tests for this.
In fact, Dry Farm Wines lab tests and tastes all of its wines before procuring and shipping.
We have a hard cut off for sugar, alcohol and sulfur levels because any of these in excess is a sign of a unhealthy wine in our opinion. We send test tubes of samples for each wine to a local certified independent enologist. – DFW
Dry Farm Wines fully admits that some natural wines taste funky and in turn only takes on about 30% of the wines they test/taste. It was so obvious too because every bottle I tasted was better than the last! I loved ALL the reds, the rose was smooth and buttery but not overly sweet and the sparkling white!? To DIE for. Light, dry, clean, crisp and extra bubbly.
Oh and while we are on the topic, here is a compelling video interview with Isabelle Legeron (an iconic figure in the natural, raw wine world) and Dry Farm Wines founder Todd White. It’s all about how the natural wine movement came about + putting value on complete transparency. (Um, still thinking about wild asparagus and the idea of a “wild salad”—gosh, I have to beef up my country because city me is taking over!).
Dry Farm Wines membership
If this is wetting your whistle, check out what their natural wine membership looks like:
- Get 6 bottles monthly OR every other month.
- Choose what you want: reds, whites or mixed. More here!
Guys, I’m totally hooked. The only decision left is: Should I go with the monthly subscription or the every other month…Oh! And I’ve hooked you up. Buy here and get a bottle for a penny with your first order!
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Where to buy organic wines
Dry Farm WinesDry Farm Wines is a great option and I highly recommend it but if this is not for you there are several other options for organic or natural wine.
- Look for the USDA organic seal on your bottle of wine at the grocery. This wine will be made with grapes that were farmed organically but the likelihood is that they still use machinery and other additives in the winemaking process. Farming is only one step in the winemaking process. But this is still a better option than non-organic in my opinion.
- Check out Whole Foods Eco-Friendly wine section—they have an assortment of organic + biodynamic wines.
- Ask to speak to the wine buyer at your local liquor or wine store. Tell them you want a natural wine either organic or biodynamic and they will help you with some options. Most natural wines are not marked as natural. Rely on the experts!
- Order international wines over domestic wines when dining out. Specifically, wines from French regions like Loire Valley and Jura. Dry Farms says they have been making wine in a drinkable, clean style for far longer than Americans have. It won’t be perfect but it’s better than domestic labels.
Sign up for Dry Farm Wines here and get an additional bottle for just a penny with your first order! Tell me what you think!
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Pam PickApril 27, 2018
I’ve purchased Dry Farm wine in the past and really liked it. However, I do find it somewhat “spendy.” I’d be curious on your take on FitVine wine, which similarly is lower in sugar, but doesn’t claim to be organic. Would you agree that if Dry Farms wine is a bit price prohibitive, that the lower cost FitVine is a healthier alternative to traditional wine?
thisorganicgirlApril 28, 2018
Hi Pam! I’ve never heard of FitVine! Let me look into it and circle back – xo!
KatieMay 2, 2018
Hi! I tried clicking the link and ordering the subscription but didn’t see anything in my cart about the 1 cent bottle. Is that promotion no longer going on?
thisorganicgirlMay 2, 2018
Hi Katie! It will automatically be added into your order. So any orders that come through these links will have an additional bottle added in! So cool, right!!??
KatieMay 2, 2018
Oh wow, that’s awesome! Thanks for letting me know. Can’t wait to get my first box 🙂
CelyMay 31, 2020
Love, loved this article. It was so good that I am looking forward to reading more! I’ve been looking into Dry Farm Wines because it was highly recommended by a good friend. In all, thank you!
LisaJune 1, 2020
Hi Cely! Absolutely! So glad it was helpful! I’m coming out with a Natural Wine Buying Guide soon so stay tuned! xo, Lisa
MonicaJuly 9, 2020
How does this wine compare to Secco wines? Also dry farm & organic. Thank you!
LisaJuly 24, 2020
Hi Monica! I haven’t tried Secco wines! But I can say, these are AMAZING!
ReneeAugust 21, 2020
Hello! Very intrigued and thank you for the awesome detail! Question – is this a sponsored posting? Just checking, as I am looking for a truly unbiased review! Thank you!
LisaAugust 21, 2020
Hi Renee! This is not a sponsored post. I mark all sponsored posts clearly so readers know what’s sponsored and what’s not. I have been enjoying this wine for over 2 years now and I’m a huge fan. They also have a 100% happiness guarantee so if you don’t like what you get, they replace it, no questions asked! Hope this helps! Lisa
Maria AlejandraFebruary 6, 2021
is there any possibilities to get this wine in Europe? Spain for intance?
LisaFebruary 9, 2021
Hi Maria! I just asked them and they are not currently shipping internationally – sorry! xo, Lisa
SusanJune 7, 2021
We have received 2 shipments (6 bottle/ box) of Dry Farms red wines so far. You are so right… they all are delicious! I’m looking forward to trying some of their whites in our next box!
LisaJune 24, 2021
Susan! So excited for you – this is SO FUN! Love my DFW…I’m waiting on my next shipment now! xo, Lisa
RositaJanuary 7, 2022
How long does a bottle last without opening?
Lisa FennessyFebruary 4, 2022
Good question. I’m sure this varies from bottle to bottle…BUT if you ever get a bottle that is not good or that has gone bad, DFW will replace it for free! xo, Lisa
AutumMarch 18, 2022
hello! I’ve been wanting to try DFW for a while now but truth be told…I’m a wine snob! I won’t even taste a $20/bottle nowadays. With that being said, are the more expensive wines (think Caymus, Plumpjack, Cade) better for you? Do they have better ingredients? Less pesticides? I typically never get a hangover from good wine so I’m curious if the high price tag is worth more than just the outstanding flavor (and no hangover)
BeckyApril 19, 2022
Great question! Would love to hear …
AnnOctober 28, 2022
I had a Dry Farm subscription for a while but in the end didn’t love all the wines sent (which is to be expected I guess). I found the reds a bit weak but I tend to like a full-bodied red when the mood strikes so keep that in mind. I loved that all were organic and lower in alcohol and it was fun to be surprised by a wine from a unique place (Hungary for example).
Lisa FennessyNovember 11, 2022
Hi Ann! I get that! The reds have typically been a bit lighter in taste but recently I’ve been getting some beautiful reds – more full bodied and robust. I keep asking DFW to let me put a box together called the Lisa Fennessy box or something. I would stack it with the biggest, boldest reds and it would sell out in a hot second. That’s all we want lol ; ) xo, Lisa