Yeast, both native and pure strain varieties, eat the sugar in the grapes and turn it into alcohol and all those wonderful wine flavors. At Deerfield Ranch Winery, we triple hand-sort all of our grapes to remove anything you wouldn’t feed to a baby. This reduces the toxins and bacteria. We keep a clean fermentation environment, and monitor the yeast for stress. As the yeast multiply rapidly we regularly feed them organic yeast food and supply them with oxygen to keep them growing happily. Histamines are produced during the fermentation process by an interaction of the yeast and bacteria. By reducing bacteria in the fermenter Deerfield reduces the source of unwanted histamine production. The result is a cleaner wine, low in histamines and sulfites. Those who get headaches and have reactions to most wines can usually drink Deerfield wine.
We make wine with very low levels of sulfite. Elevated levels of sulfite may cause an allergic reaction such as breathing problems, hot flashes, red flush of the face, ears and neck, puffiness and hives. I’m very sensitive to SO2 and have experienced all of these reactions. About 30 years ago, the Food and Drug Administration determined that about one percent of the population is allergic to sulfites and so required the “Contains Sulfites” label on wine. Sulfite is used to keep the wine from prematurely oxidizing during the barrel aging process and to protect it from excess oxygen pickup during bottling. SO2 attracts the oxygen and becomes non-reactive (inert) SO3. We don’t release our wine until the low levels of SO2, used for its antioxidant properties, reacts with the free oxygen picked up by the wine and is reduced to non-reactive levels.