It’s only natural

Anais Gschwind
3 min readAug 13, 2023


A month ago sommelier Samantha Payne wrote an article for Gourmet Traveller titled Natural wine is dead.

Despite it’s inflammatory tagline, it was a fairly short and seemingly innocuous summation of the genesis of the Australian natural wine movement. It acknowledged the stalwarts of the past and called for a new minimal-intervention era that the author named ‘the post-natural wine movement’.

Today Anton van Klopper posted his letter to the editor in response to the article on Instagram (the tagline for his account reading ‘VIN NATURE NOSO2 LOVER-OF-A-PIXIE LOST-IN-A-SEA-OF-DREAMS’). In his letter he outlines his offence and dismay at the divisive nature of the article.

The post has generated quite a bit of support for the author of the letter and also some reflection and discussion on the original author’s intent.

The world of natural wine has long been fertile ground for heated discussion between winemakers, connoisseurs and increasingly clued-up consumers.

What exactly is a natural wine and who gets to decide? Clear a day in your life and type ‘natural wine’ into google and you’ll find many who’ve waded deep into this debate. In print, there are some very thoughtful and academic publications that have dealt sensitively with this topic should you wish to know more.

Natural wine is now often used interchangeably with words like minimal intervention, unconventional, lo-fi, organic and biodynamic. This has made things even more confusing for the consumer and riled up many a wine producer.

In recent years there has been some concern that natural wine has been coopted by big business using clever marketing. Conventionally made wine is being sold using cute labelling and words like ‘sustainable’ to appeal to a a new market of wine drinkers who are blissfully unaware of what’s come before.

Naturally, this would be offensive to those producers who are committed to what they deem a more authentic approach to wine making.

However, those a little further removed from the production side of things seem less interested in the nuance of the theory of natural wine and more interested in drinking something fun with the added bonus of being something consciously consumed.

Their interest in wine is driven by curiosity and free from the hang-ups of ideology. These consumers also enjoy their wine with a flair of sardonic self-awareness as per the thriving niche Aussie wine meme culture (as seen here).

Meanwhile, for the average punter, natural wine continues to be associated with the following words: funky, weird, dirty, cloudy, floaty bits, stinky, gross, ewww no thanks.

While the natural wine die-hards squabble over sulphur levels, ego and authenticity, the general consumer is still visibly distressed when they discover they cannot drink a mass-produced Barossa shiraz by the glass on the wine list in the venue where I work.

We’d all like to live in a world where winemakers and restauranters can survive on idealism alone, yet the reality remains that goods must be exchanged for a price in order to actually sustain the people they purport to support.

Natural wine will remain ultimately esoteric, beautifully beyond perfect analysis regardless of opinions. What might be beneficial messaging from natty wine headquarters, is that there is room for all iterations of natural, lo-fi, unconventional, minimal, whatever-you-want-to-call-it wine. Yes, perhaps the natural wine story becomes diluted, but since when did a little cloudiness ever hurt anyone?