Labels can sometimes make all the difference. A new UCLA study finds that consumers get turned off by wines that are identified as organic, even though they often rate higher than non-organic. That, in turn, lowers prices. But take "organic" off the label and these wines are often pricier than the conventional stuff. Snobbery may have something to do with this (along the lines of labeling wines kosher), but another factor could be at play: Organic produce is often a turnoff because it just doesn't look or taste as good as the non-organic kind. That could well translate to a negative public perception of organic wine. Anyway, the findings appear in the current issue of the journal Business and Society. Lead author is UCLA economist Magali Delmas. From release:
The "made from organically grown grapes" label not only wiped out the price premium for using certified grapes but actually drove prices 7 percent below those for conventionally produced wines, the researchers found. The average price for a wine with an eco-label was $37.65. By contrast, a certified wine without an eco-label commanded an average price of $40.54.
In addition to being less pure, grapes grown with pesticides, herbicides and inorganic fertilizers interfere with a vine's ability to absorb naturally occurring chemicals in soil, according to vintners quoted in the study. As a result, wines made with organically grown grapes are more likely absorb these chemicals, which are said to provide the distinctive flavor of the site where the grapes were grown -- a wine's much-prized "terroir."