Clean Wine - Unlikely To Be Washed Away Anytime Soon

The 'Clean Wine' phenomenon is now well established in the US. Will it survive?

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Cameron Diaz and her partner, entrepreneur Katherine Power
Cameron Diaz and her partner, entrepreneur Katherine Power

Few members of the wine industry appreciate outsiders like Hollywood star Cameron Diaz suddenly elbowing her way onto their turf, using highly questionable ‘health’ claims when marketing Aveline, her so-called ‘clean wine’. To a modern observer, this kind of activity might seem to be close to consumer deception, but a century ago, wine was routinely promoted as being healthier than water, and in more recent times millions of words have been written promoting the notion that moderate consumption can provide protection against heart attacks, Alzheimer’s and heaven knows what else – while ignoring the risks of breast cancer that come with similarly moderate drinking.

Natural wine producers and distributors – and a smaller number of organic wine promoters - have complicated the situation further by pushing the idea that ‘conventional’ wines are ‘full of’ chemicals that are bound to do you harm.

From makeup to Merlot

So, we now have a complete industry sector that sells ‘clean’ wine to a growing audience, especially in the US, who’ve already bought into clean food and clean cosmetics. Clean Eating magazine has nearly a quarter of a million followers on Facebook,, while the clean cosmetics sector is growing at a compound rate of 12 percent – even faster than the 10 percent achieved by organic food – and is expected to be worth $115.5bn by 2027, according to Brandessence Market Research.   

It is no coincidence that some of the people hawking clean Pinot Grigio have resumés that include selling clean pink lipstick. They can see the profit that is available to be made from selling wine like Diaz’s for $24 per bottle.

The trend has gone even further, to include the widely-distributed Fitvine whose label has a running man holding a bunch of grapes in one hand and a wine glass in the other. With ‘significantly less sugar’ than ‘the top 10 wine brands’, it’s “for people who want to enjoy their wine – and feel good about it.”

A growing trend

Wine people who balk at this kind of marketing need to look at the bigger picture, and listen to Philip Linardos co-founder and CEO of ShelfNow a recent startup that links speciality producers and independent buyers. Quoted in FoodManufacture magazine, early this year, he said “As it stands, the shift to more health-conscious food purchases has never been more apparent.” The same publication’s predictions for 2022 include multiple references to ‘healthy’, ‘nutritional’ new, plant-based products.

Of course, what works in the US may not apply everywhere else. Local rules in Europe and elsewhere may prevent clean wine being marketed in ways that are permitted on the other side of the Atlantic. And mandatory ingredient-labelling which is being introduced by the EU will, in any case, help to counter the unsubstantiated accusations marketers of clean wines make against conventional ones.

Other markets may be more tolerant, however. The growth in popularity of wine in markets like China and Thailand over recent decades, in particular, is closely linked to its association with health, and there are no signs that this is going to change any time soon. Anyone looking at the global wine industry would be well advised to take the clean wine trend seriously rather than trying to wish it away.




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