What is Organic Wine?
At Guest Wines we have a growing range of Organic Wines. We have seen an increase in demand over recent years and have responded by increasing our range. Below there is a link to wines deemed organic. Please note: Only producers who have been certified are permitted to use the term ‘organic’ on their labels. However, there are many other producers who use organic principles but have not chosen to acquire official certification (for various reasons). And wines labelled ‘Natural‘ or ‘Biodynamic‘ are also organic in principle – some Biodynamic producers will have certification through such organisations such as DEMETER for example, whilst others will simply following biodynamic principles. Also, there is now a growing fraternity who go under the Regenerative Wine Making banner – similar to Biodynamics but science led instead of cosmos led. Take your pick, the choice is yours!
There is also a growing number of producers who also describe themselves as ‘Sustainable Winegrowers‘ – here, organic and regenerative methods are used but interspersed with the occasional use of chemicals when and where required such as in wet weather when there is a real risk of disease and thus loss of crop.
We thought that this extract from an article by the Wine Folly kinda lays out straight what an Organic Wine is (and isn’t).
Very simply, organic wines are produced with organically grown grapes. In order to have organically grown grapes, a vineyard manager must implement an entirely different set of practices to maintain their vines.
By the way, organic doesn’t imply that the wine doesn’t have additives. There is, in fact, a list of additives, including things like yeast, egg whites, and animal enzymes (like rennet in cheese) that are allowed in organic wines. Being organic doesn’t necessarily mean a wine is vegan.
What is the Dilemma with Organic Wine?
The dilemma with organic wines (and what sets them apart from other organic foods) is the importance of sulphur-dioxide (SO2) in the winemaking process. Perhaps you’ve seen a lot more European organic (called ‘bio’) wines and this is because Europe has a different definition of organic:
- USA: “a wine made from organically grown grapes without added sulfites”
- EUROPE & CANADA: “a wine made from organically grown grapes that may contain added sulfites”
Organic wines from the US must not add sulfites, which in most scenarios greatly reduces a wine’s shelf life and, in some cases, can substantially change the flavour. Wineries find themselves in a quandary because spending the time to make organically grown grapes is immediately lost because they use SO2 in the bottling line. Read more about sulfites in wine.
What are Non-Organic Wines?
Non-Organic wines can use chemicals like herbicides and fungicides in the vineyards and other additives (like sulfur or Mega Purple) in a wine. You’ll find most of the bizarre chemicals in non-organic wines are used in the vineyard. It is common to see pesticides and fungicides used in areas that are calm (low wind) and have more moisture in the air to cause fungal infections (perhaps close to a river, pond or lake). You’ll find many fungicides and pesticides being employed to kill invasive species. For instance, in Napa, a foreign bug called the glassy winged sharpshooter is a carrier of Pierce’s Disease. This particular disease basically turns vines into lepers with rotting leaves and eventually kills them.
So, there you have it in a nutshell or grapevine or whatever….
However, being organic doesn’t necessarily mean better quality. Basically, wines made organically are overall better for the environment, and for the people working amongst the vines in the vineyard. We feel that the demand for Organic and Natural Wines will continue to grow and so will the producers who turn to practicing such methods. Want to know more? Then pop along to our Online Store!