We embrace the principles of organics and biodynamics in our viticulture and winemaking. In the winery minimal intervention allows layers of flavour to evolve, so that the wines are a natural expression of the soils from which they are grown.
All wines crafted at Seresin Estate are made without egg, dairy or protein products during production, meaning our wines are deemed suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
To contemplate this question above, we've included three opinions from our staff members. These are shared to consider the question fully.
It is common in the industry to use a range of fining agents to manipulate the final wine. They are not ingredients to add flavour, but fining agents to remove or amplify certain flavour or mouthfeel profiles. Some of the common fining agents are isinglass (collagen protein from fish bladder), gelatine, milk or egg proteins, or PVPP (synthetic).
We choose not to use these methods both philosophically and by winemaking choice. We feel we can achieve our desired result and winemaking style without using these methods.
We do add bentonite (clay based) to some of our white wines, this is to make the wine stable and clear in the bottle, (strictly speaking it could be considered a fining agent depending on definition) it is a clarification agent used during the winemaking process.
In winemaking, blending, and finishing of our wines, we have a few major methods and tools that relate to our lack of using fining agents:
A number of diverse wine components, allowing us to blend our wine to a certain style. Ie in Pinot Gris - skin contact portion, barrel portion, different vineyard portions. Giving us a palette to blend with.
Complexity is built into the wines, due to the wild ferments, high quality organic handpicked fruit, barrel ferment and aged portions. Don’t need to fine to manipulate mouthfeel.
Quality fruit means we don’t need to fix or clean up compromised fruit/wine portions, don’t need to fine.
If you separate the wine from the grapes, the wine itself is vegan. Biodynamics does come under scrutiny from vegetarian / vegan communities because of the use of animal parts including horns, organs, heads, eggshells, etc. Any grapes grown biodynamically would fall into this category because that is by definition part of what biodynamics is – we couldn’t be certified Biodynamic if we didn’t do it. In a best world scenario, all the animals and their products would come from our own farm, live very happy lives and be fully utilized when harvested, nothing wasted. The animals aren’t killed for the sake of biodynamics, we are just using them to their fullest when they are.
There is much discussion on internet, some recommend avoiding biodynamic wine if you are vegan unless you can feel comfortable that the whole process is humane. It all becomes kind of questionable because most food grown today would have inputs from animals… vegan vegetables that are conventionally grown would likely have synthetic fertilizers, and possibly compost made with inhumanely treated cows, blood and bone, fish waste, etc.… You have to look at how everything is grown. Biodynamics is definitely intended to be more humane.
It really is personal choice. Or perhaps one for vegan certifiers take a stand on? Looking at what it takes to be classified as vegan (cursorily) they only look at the finished product and how it was manufactured when certifying vegan, not how the ingredients was made, so perhaps you can deflect the question?
Veganism is defined as a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
Giving cows a beautiful, chemical free life, with no demands except their 'poo' is not exploitation in our opinion. We are responsible in giving animals that sort of life, and then not wasting their horns etc.
You could also argue that if our staff eat meat and we are fueled by meat in order to produce our wines, does that also mean the wines can’t be considered vegan?
It has certainly made for interesting discussion in the workplace today.