The rebellion against conventional farming and high-tech winemaking continues its march into the mainstream. Over the last decade, search engine results for “natural wine,” which has no official designation in the U.S., have steadily increased.
Last year, as the pandemic forced people away from bars and restaurants, wine clubs that focused on minimal-intervention producers became a logical option. From the growing number of shops, bars and direct-to-consumer operations that offer natural wine, here are five of the best.
Last summer, industry colleagues Simonne Mitchelson and Justin Trabue formed a nonprofit natural wine club with winemakers Eric Bach, Cameron Porter and Marlen Porter, art curator Khalil Kinsey and wine bar owner Teron Stevenson. The goal was to support BIPOC community members eager to pursue careers in the wine world, with proceeds directed toward education and internships.
So far, the ethically farmed, low-intervention wines have featured predominantly California-based winemakers like Santa Maria’s Amplify Wines, Good Boy Wines from Los Angeles, Scar of the Sea from San Luis Obispo and Solminer from Santa Ynez Valley’s Los Olivos. Each bottle features one-of-a-kind label art by BIPOC creators and historical artists.
Details: $150 per shipment of four bottles. Available quarterly. Ships to all states except Arkansas, Alaska, Hawaii and Utah.
This decade-old shop in New York City’s Fort Greene neighborhood expanded its longstanding delivery club significantly in the last year. Each month, Noah Quortrup, the store’s general manager and wine buyer, selects seven bottles from its shelves. He uses those to create customized, four-bottle shipments for member preferences and their feedback on previous bottles.
Monthly themes can also include region, variety or producer, and the wines come with tasting notes and winemaking details. All bottlings are sourced from organic or biodynamic farms with fair labor practices. Previous shipments have featured Jordy Kay from Australia, Domaine Geschickt from Alsace and Finca Las Payas of Argentina.
Details: $98 per shipment of four bottles, available monthly. Ships to all states except Alabama, Alaska, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Vermont.
While orange wine isn’t necessarily natural, all of Orange Glou’s selections are produced with minimal intervention. Sommelier Doreen Winkler fell in love with skin-contact wines while attending fairs like La Dive Bouteille in France’s Loire region and RAW wine in New York City, so she founded the club in November 2019. Past selections have included the highly allocated Italian producer Radikon, upstate New York’s Bloomer Creek, Roussillon’s Matassa, plus California’s Donkey & Goat and End of Nowhere. Winkler offers monthly three or six bottle options, which include one-off “surprise boxes.” Along with the wines, she includes tasting notes, winemaking information and food pairings—after all, she’s a sommelier.
Details: $105 for three bottles, $195 for six bottles, available monthly. Or, $115 and $205 for one-time “surprise box.” Ships to all states except Alaska, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, South Dakota and Utah.
While it’s easy to find natural wines in Los Angeles and New York City, Primal Wine proprietor Guido Cattabianchi wanted to help the rest of America. His e-commerce site, launched in September 2018, bridges this gap. Born and raised in Valpolicella, Italy, Cattabianchi views natural wine with a European bent. He embraces the principles of the Italian association Vinnatur, which holds labor rights, farming conditions and sustainability as important as sulfite content. He plans to make the business carbon neutral this year.
Members can choose red (still and sparkling), white (still and sparkling) or mixed bottles. Past shipments included producers like Meinklang, Cantina Indigeno, Controvento, Cantina Giardino, Alessandro Viola, Fond Cypress, Etnella, Marc Kreydenweiss, Cirelli, Il Farneto, Il Folicello, Gearhead Wines and Purity Wine.
Details: $85 for three bottles, $155 for six bottles or $285 for 12 bottles. Available monthly. Ships to all states except Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Hawaii, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Utah.
Founded by Holly Berrigan and Nic Jansson in January 2019, MYSA Natural Wine is a wine club and ecommerce platform. It highlights small producers that make natural, minimal-intervention wines from sustainably farmed grapes. The site’s steady growth surged when the pandemic took root in March 2020, and MYSA has quadrupled its membership. Options include orange-only and red-only shipments as well as variety packs. Club members can also purchase a la carte bottles at 10% off MYSA retail prices.
MYSA recently adopted digital tasting cards, which replaced paper versions, which also includes videos. The move dovetailed with the company’s commitment to 1% for the Planet and Carbon Project. Recent boxes have included The Marigny, Broc Cellars, Le Fraghe, Costador, and Flat Brim wines.
Details: $84.95 for three bottles, $139.95 for six bottles or $249.95 for 12 bottles. Available monthly, every other month or once every three months. Ships to all states but Alaska, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Hawaii and Utah.