Grapes ripening in Wine Country - CaliforniaI recently spent an excellent weekend in California. Among other things and locations, we spent most of a Saturday exploring and tasting wine country. On our drive out, I noticed a billboard for a vineyard that positioned its wine as “made with organic grapes.” At first I thought, California in general is big on organic—no big deal. Then it hit me: Of course organic food consumers want their wine to be organic, too!

I Googled “organic wine” to find nearly 8,000,000 results—clearly I’m behind on this. But here’s why I’m still getting my arms around organic wine: I perceive wine as a luxury. It’s an after-dinner, end-of-the-day, oh-I-just-remembered-I-have-a-bottle-open sort of thing. It’s not food. It’s not a staple, not a cornerstone of nutrition, not consumed every day. Wine is an indulgence of sorts—and it can be an organic one at that.

Takeaway time: What does organic wine mean for the greater ag universe? I think it’s this: Organic wine makers are occupying a niche. They are producing something that consumers are identifying with. Wine is the result of growing and processing, but sometimes we forget about the “growing” part. Grapes are crops just as corn, wheat and soybeans are, and we are hyper-aware of organic and sustainable growing practices in relation to those crops. Wine producers are finding ways to differentiate their crops—despite the fact it’s not the crop per se that’s being sold. That’s something we can all learn from.

So what’s your niche? How does your product differ from your competitors’? What sets you apart?