All-Natural Balistreri Wines
John Balistreri’s award-winning wines are traditionally handcrafted, made completely naturally without any sulfites or other chemicals, in a very approachable, easy-drinking style.
No Sulfites Or Chemicals
What Is “Natural” Wine?
An unofficial term
Unlike Organic and Biodynamic Wine, Natural Wine does not yet have an official definition. It’s a term that encompasses an approach to low-intervention winemaking, especially in contrast to the conventional wines that make up the bulk of the wine market today.
Even though ‘Natural Wine’ is a term that’s becoming more mainstream in today’s world, it is the original way that wine was made for thousands of years before modern inventions. It’s the ancestral way to make wine.
We make wine naturally like John the Winemaker’s Sicilian ancestors did
Natural Wine for us at Balistreri Vineyards has a long and important history, as John the Winemaker’s family from Sicily has been making natural wine for many generations.
Learn more about the Balistreri Family & History!
Here at Balistreri Vineyards, Natural Wine means:
- Hand-picked grapes
- Fermentation done with natural yeast
- No chemical additives
- No sulfites (a.k.a. preservatives)
- No fining or filtering
We’ve broken it all down for you
If those terms don’t make much sense, that’s okay! We want everyone to understand the importance of Natural Wine, and why we have committed to it, so here we’ve broken down what each of those terms mean and their importance to our natural winemaking.
No Unnatural Additives
1. Hand-Picked Grapes
Once grapes have finished ripening on the vine and it’s time for harvest, there are two different ways they can be picked: by machine or by hand.
Machine-picking really isn’t “picking” at all. Machines big enough to fit over the rows of vines drive down in a line and aggressively shake the grapes off the vines into a large container.
This method doesn’t just shake off grapes, it shakes everything off the vines (animals, bugs, leaves, etc.). It’s not a pure way to harvest grapes, and disturbs the health of the vines and the natural wildlife.
Hand-picking, on the other hand, is a much gentler and purer way to harvest grapes. Pickers go through each vine, carefully snip off clusters of grapes, and place them into containers by hand.
This method ensures that the vines are as un-disturbed as possible, that no wildlife on the vines is being disturbed, that only grapes are being harvested, and that only good grapes are being harvested.
We only use hand-picked grapes
At Balistreri Vineyards, we only use hand-picked grapes for our Natural Wines. It ensures the highest quality grapes are going into our wines, and nothing else. We’re also ensuring that the vines growing our grapes are going to stay healthier and stronger, and that the local wildlife is being cared for.
Pickers In The Vineyard
2. Natural Yeast
Natural Yeast Is Everywhere
Letting Grapes Do Their Thing
It’s naturally in the air
Natural yeast, also called wild or indigenous yeast, is always floating around in the air. It’s essentially everywhere, on everything. When grapes are growing in the vineyard, yeast naturally lands on them. When we harvest the grapes and bring them into the winery, this yeast is still on the grapes.
It will start a natural fermentation
If this natural yeast is left on the grapes, it will start a fermentation after the grapes are crushed. The yeasts will start eating the sugars in the grape juice, and start turning those sugars into alcohol.
Natural yeasts adds to a wine’s terroir
Terroir is a French word commonly used throughout the world of wine that refers to all the environmental factors that affected the growing grapes, and how those factors then affect the wine’s overall aromas and body.
Natural yeast is different everywhere around the world, so it imparts unique flavors into the wine depending on where the grapes were grown. It’s a wonderful thing, and adds to a wine’s personality and individuality.
We always use natural yeast for our fermentations
Most wines today are made with commercial, or lab-made yeast strains, for the fermentation instead. This leads to a more controlled fermentation, with more predictable results and flavors.
But here at Balistreri Vineyards, we want the grapes to speak for themselves in their most authentic expression in the wine. Natural yeast can give wine bold, spicy, and fruity flavors, and it’s one of the reasons our wines taste so great. We also don’t want to add anything unnatural into our wines, so it’s the obvious choice for us.
All Grapes Have Unique Natural Yeasts
3. No Chemical Additives
No Unnatural Additives In Our Wines
There are 76 FDA-approved additives for wine
Yes, 76 FDA-approved additives! This list includes dyes, flavorings, acids, preservatives, even chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, and so much more. See the entire FDA’s approved list here.
Almost none of these additives are required to be listed on the label. This is unlike food products, which are legally required to list their additives. The only additive required to be listed on a wine label is sulfites (see the next section).
We’re proud of what’s not in our wine
Here at Balistreri Vineyards, we don’t add anything unnatural to our wines. We would never need to add colorings to our rich, concentrated wines. We’d never need to add flavorings to our high quality, Colorado-grown grapes. It goes against our ancestral approach to winemaking, and is simply not necessary for our award-winning Natural Wines.
4. No Sulfites
Sulfites Are Preservatives
Sulfites Sterilize Wine
All Of Our Wines Are Sulfite-Free
Sulfates vs Sulfites
You’ve probably heard the terms sulfates and sulfites. What do these mean? Essentially, they are preservatives used to stabilize products and produce for consumers. Sulfates are usually used in products (like shampoo) and sulfites are used in (most) wines.
Sulfites stabilize a wine
Fermentation creates a tiny amount of natural sulfites as a byproduct (usually about 10 parts per million (ppm) or less), but winemakers are legally allowed to add as much as 350 ppm of sulfites into a wine.
Sulfites stabilize a wine by killing off any leftover bacteria, yeast cells, etc. They also trap oxygen molecules and keep them from oxidizing a wine. When you’re looking around the wine shop or liquor store, most of the wines you see contain these preservatives.
Some people are sensitive to sulfites
Some people, especially those with allergies and asthma, have sensitivities to sulfites. In 1986, sulfites were banned from being added to foods that are typically eaten raw, like fruits and veggies, but they can be added to processed foods as long as they’re listed on the label. Anything meant for consumption, including wine, with 10 ppm or more of sulfites must have it stated on the label.
Our wines are always sulfite-free
We have many guests who come back to us time and time again because they’ve finally found a wine that doesn’t bother them physically, because we never add sulfites to our wines.
They don’t align with our ancestral approach to winemaking, so we forego them altogether.
Made With Dedication and Commitment
5. No Filtering or Fining
Wine In Its Wholest Expression
Our Wine Naturally Filters Itself By Dropping The Sediment To The Bottom Of The Barrel
Why filter or fine a wine?
Wines are often filtered & fined before they’re bottled, which is essentially the process of removing any leftover materials, like grape particles and yeasts, from the wine.
Filtering vs Fining
Filtering is the process of removing larger materials, such as leftover yeast cells and grape particles, from a wine with some sort of strainer that can catch them as the wine passes through it.
Fining is the process of clarifying a wine and removing any cloudiness from it. This is done with a binding agent (such as bentonite, gelatin, or egg whites) that binds to the minuscule solids in a wine, which can then be removed altogether, leaving it crystal clear.
Why we don’t filter or fine our wines
Similarly to the reasons we use natural yeast instead of commercial yeast in our wines, we choose to not filter or fine our wines so we can leave as much authenticity, character, and flavor in them as possible. Attesting to our ancestral approach to winemaking, we like to make wine that is as natural as possible.
Here are some more reasons why we don’t fine or filter our wines:
- It removes natural flavors and body from the wine
- It removes all the probiotic bacteria (a.k.a. good bacteria) from the wine
- It removes antioxidants (which neutralize free radicals in the body) from the wine
6. Vegan-Friendly Wines
Our Wines Are Always Vegan
As mentioned in the section above, one of the most common ways to fine a wine is with egg whites. The albumen proteins in the egg whites can be used to bind to the miniscule leftover sediments in a wine, which can then be removed altogether to leave the wine crystal clear.
Our wines are vegan-friendly because we do not use egg whites, or anything else, to fine or filter our wines.
Shop Our Wines
Orange-Style Whites, Reds, and Desserts
Winemaker John in the Tasting Room
When visiting, you will be welcomed by Winemaker John Balistreri, his wife Birdie, their daughter Julie, and the rest of the Balistreri Team. We offer tastings of our wines and tours of our cellar and winemaking facilities.
Wine Flights, Glasses, and Bottles to enjoy with lunch