What is Natural Wine?

There is no universal definition, as there are no standards, no ingredient labeling requirements and no regulation of the natural wine category.   But here is our definition: 
  • Organic, biodynamic or regenerative farming (not always certified but 100% verified)
  • Native yeast fermentation
  • No additives* except minimal SO2 (<50ppm)
*That includes chemicals in the field, such as pesticides and herbicides, as well as things like designer yeast and any of the 75+ allowable additives that are legally permitted in wine. 

To save you the trouble of deciphering this technical list, here are some common (and a few sketchy) ones, and what they're used for:

Dimethyl dicarbonate (Trade name Velcorin)

Used to sterilize and stabilize wine, requires a hazardous material suit to handle. Lethal if inhaled within 48 hours of administering


For color stabilization (Odd that you'd want to add this to wine, given that it is also produced by the partial oxidation of ethanol in the liver and contributes to hangovers.)

Ammonium Phosphate

Fermentation aid, classified by NIH as a "general purpose food additive in animal drugs, feeds, and related products", also a recognized irritant.

Albumen (egg whites)

Fining agent

Isinglass (dried fish bladders)

Used for clarification

Bovine-derived gelatin

Used for clarification

Soy flour (defatted)

Used to facilitate fermentation

GMO Yeast

Used to kick start fermentation & control the flavor

Copper Sulfate

Hydrogen sulfide remover

Glucose Oxidase

Used to clarify and stabilize wine

Milk Products (whole, skim, ½ and ½ milk)

Fining agent

Purely natural wine, we think, is made of grape juice and little else. Which is why all of the wines we work with at Rock Juice are farmed organically or biodynamically, either certified or verified practicing, use only native yeast, and contain no additives other than a bit of sulfur (<50ppm or less).  The whole ethos of natural wine centers on low-intervention, chemical-free farming and winemaking, and full transparency on what goes into each bottle so that consumers can make informed decisions about what they drink.

Why should you care?

Wine is an agricultural product, subject to processing and manipulation just like processed food. Grapes are in the top three most sprayed crops, so ensuring that the grapes going into your wine is really important.  Beyond the additive conversation, sulfites can be an issue for many.  Because in the US the allowable limits for added SO2, a preservative and potent allergen, are very high, double that of the EU and well beyond what our bodies can process easily – which is problematic not only if you are sensitive to sulfur, but also because it is depletes our stores of glutathione, an important enzyme our bodies use to detoxify and process the alcohol in wine.