Cameron Diaz gives a happy sigh. “I’m really excited,” she says to her friend Katherine Power. On the table are two bottles of their new wine, Avaline, launched mid-July.

“We were mad for a while,” adds Diaz. “You were a little bit more mad than I was. You had some real anger.”

Anger? About wine?

When Diaz and Power decided to make their own wine, they discovered there’s more to it than fermented grape juice. “No transparency, no labelling,” says Power, so shocked by what she found, she threw out all her wine.

The pair, speaking on Instagram, say they became determined to make a “clean”, chemical-free wine and are now, according to their publicist, on a mission “to bring transparency to the wine industry”.

They’re not the only ones. Out of nowhere has come Good Clean Wine, which “pairs with a healthy lifestyle”; the Wonderful Wine Company, which offers “wellness without deprivation”; and Scout & Cellar, a multi-level marketing company that boasts of its “clean-crafted wine” and intends to “disrupt the wine industry and do better for the planet”, among others.

Dr Creina Stockley sighs when she hears this over Zoom. “I’ve been in the industry for close to 30 years and this comes up periodically, just under different names” – “minimal intervention” is one she remembers – “it’s a marketing exercise.”

A pharmacologist and lecturer at the University of Adelaide, Stockley is a world authority on wine additives and processing aids, the heart of this issue.

Unlike the food industry, winemakers don’t have to list ingredients. This has opened a door for opportunists, who profit by claiming that other wineries fill their wines with noxious chemicals (they don’t).

The clean wine companies are chasing a lucrative prize – a piece of the $52.5bn wellness market. A Scout & Cellar recruitment video notes 68% of consumers will pay more for products if they’re free of ingredients perceived as bad; disparaging the competition is good marketing. It’s also working; the company reportedly made $20m in 2018, its first year.

This article first appeared in The Guardian. The rest of the article can be found here.

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