Our clocks jumped forward, the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade partied through the Toronto streets and we are seeing lots of rain instead of snow. Yup, its official, spring is coming or is potentially already here.

With the weather warming up, I start to daydream about summer cottages and clocking some serious dock time. This daydream led to me to slightly panic about getting in summer-worthy shape and with the weather warming already I may have less time than I think to lose those couple winter pounds that I graciously hid under my snuggly sweaters this winter.

But wait, it is St. Patrick’s Day on Wednesday and that means green beer starting at noon, yikes.

Is there an alternative to celebrating the BIG GREEN day that does not include pounding back tons of carbs and calories that will have to be worked off in the near future? A “lesser” evil if not a calorie free option?

USDA organic wine logoThough many a nutritionist may argue with my potential solution, I am going to put it out there anyway! May I suggest some organic wine to be your choice of “poison” during this festive day.

This is the perfect fit. A day of celebrating anything green in colour paired with a beverage that is “green” from farm to table (even most of the labels for organic wine are green, the perfect centre piece for your St. Patty’s Day table).

Now, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has set high standards for our wineries and has created some strict guidelines on wines being able to sport their new “organic” wine badges:

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To get these badges is not as easy as just growing grapes organically. Wineries need to take on the task of growing grapes organically and outfitting their actual production as per the CFIA organic guidelines. These are all very technical and hard to understand, however here are a couple quick facts:

It takes about 3 to 5 years for a non-organic winery to be converted in to a fully certified organic winery. A big investment which may account for why there are so few organic wineries in our Canadian Wine regions.

winery

Organic grapes grow much better in warmer areas (think, France, California, Chile and Spain versus Canada).

Many wineries are technically organic but choose not to be certified due to the red tape, the cost of registering as an “organic” winery, and/or they may not agree with the current government set standards.

Here is the list of certified organic vineyards in Canada:

In British Columbia

  • Summer Hill Pyramid Winery
  • Rollingdale Winery
  • Forbidden Fruit Winery
  • Deep Creek Wine Estates
  • Hainle Vineyards Estate Winery

In Nova Scotia

  • L’Acadie Vineyards

In Ontario:

  • Frogpond Farm
  • Southbrook Vineyards

* Le Clos Jordanne and Malivoire have certified organic Vineyards but their wineries are not certified (they grow organic grapes but have not gone through the official organic winery paperwork).

Now living in Toronto, I thought I would take a chance and try some of the Ontario organic wines (there is something about trying organic wine shipped in from across the country that seems to eliminate the green aspect of the product), so here are my tasting notes.

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Frogpond Farm Cabernet Franc – Now first of all, you need to head to a LCBO with a Vintages store attached to it (or The Wine Rack also carries this brand), and don’t think you will find this in the Ontario Wine section, rather it is in the “new arrivals” section at the back of the Vintages section. Though hidden in the store, once you find this bottle it is a treasure. The LCBO has only brought in the Cabernet Franc from this vineyard, though you can purchase more of their products from their website or just indulge in a trip to the Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyard. Though not the prettiest bottle (something to think about if you are giving this as a hostess gift), this sassy red wine is delightful. Light and not acidic it reminded me or sitting on a deck in Muskoka with friends, eating a meal of BBQ chicken and pineapple salsa. Defiantly fun in a bottle from a mature red grape that normally seems much more serious.

I took a look at the Southbrook bottles and fell in love with them. They are elegant and beautiful and the LCBO carries many of their products. Their Poetica line-up is the PERFECT hostess gift. This is a limited edition group of bottles that features work of Canadian poets right on the labels. Visually lovely, organic and a true piece of Canadian art, this is a great addition to any table. Southbrook wines are made in a LEED Gold Winery in the Niagara region. Though pricey (so I didn’t try this one), it is lovely gift.

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Being organic is not the only way to be eco-friendly when it comes to wine. Pelee Island Winery, located on Pelee Island Ontario, has an eco trail line-up of wines. The Pelee Island Winery focuses, not only on being organic but in preserving the environment. They have invested in renewable energies, recycling, water treatment facilities, composting, bio-dynamic sewage systems and are looking into better organic farming practices with help from the WWF. Their eco trail Chardonnay (only $9.95 a bottle), is a cool, crisp, wine that is the perfect pairing for a spring afternoon. This delicious wine is now on my list of staples.I love that the reason for its name is that the winemakers recognized that Pelee Island is home to 2 endangered species, the Blanchard’s cricket frog and the Fowler toad. The Winery uses this wine to bring awareness to these species and the fact that they are preserving the ecosystems on the island that these species call home. Hey, even without an “organic” seal of approval, this wine gets my “green” vote.

So enjoy St. Patty’s Day, and remember green beer is not the only thing that you can toast the day with.

Sue is a mom of two little girls and has a passion for finding things that will bring more fun to the everyday. Making the choice to be as eco-friendly as possible, this gal knows that eco does not mean sacrificing your personal style.

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