Settlers Ridge- Preservative Free Wines

Settlers Ridge fowl
Visitors to Settlers Ridge Vineyard

By Fergal Gleeson

If you’re concerned about chemical additives and preservatives in your wine have no fear! There is a small band of winemakers in Margaret River making wines just for you.

First a bit of science: Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is a standard addition in the winemaking process to preserve wine and prevent spoilage. Unfortunately some people are allergic to it.

Making wine without adding a preservative is technically difficult however we talk to three winemakers who have taken up the challenge.

Settlers Ridge Organic 16 Blend 51

Settlers Ridge Organic Wines

I asked Kaye Nobbs, Joint Owner of family owned winery, Settlers Ridge, why they decided to make a preservative free wine.

“I always enjoyed wine but my husband was a beer drinker” Kate says. “When he was 30 he tried a Shiraz. A few hours later the shallow breeding started! It turned out my husband has chemical induced asthma. My husband said ‘I won’t be the only one with this problem!’”

So they did some research with the Asthma Foundation into sulphur dioxide. The Foundation wanted even less SO2 than what is permitted for organic wines. Even tiny amounts of sulphur dioxide preservative can cause allergic reactions for some people such as wheezing, hives or hay fever type symptoms.

“Conventional wines are allowed to use up to 300 parts sulphur dioxide per million,” Kate says.  “Organic wines need to use two thirds less. The Asthma Foundation wanted no more than 50 parts per million.”

Settlers Ridge offer three preservative free wines: a Sangiovese, a Cabernet Merlot and a Port.

Settlers Ridge have also been certified organic for over 20 years.

“We were always aware of the environment and what chemicals do to the soil and what they do to our bodies. But we are common sense veggies!” She jokes. “We planted organic vegetables but we go to IGA for tomatoes! So we are organic but not ‘dark green greens’!”

Settles Ridge Cabernet
Organic grapes on the vine

Their first vintage was in 1997 and they almost immediately picked up medals in wine shows in which their wines appeared alongside non organic wines.

You might assume that you pay a premium for preservative free, organic wines. Interestingly all the Settlers Ridge range is in the $20-30 range.

In addition to being low sulphur and certified organic their wines are also Vegan Friendly as they are made without animal products.

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