Thursday, November 1, 2007

home + food + family:
Organic Wine, The Inside Scoop


Yes, even the conscious set drink, and perhaps that is why the growth of the organic wine has seen such a steady growth over the last decade, alongside its core consumer market. This year alone, the industry has seen an 11.6% growth (Wine Industry Report). Long gone are the days of vinegary or flat wines made by fringe wineries, as big name companies in the U.S and overseas get more green in their practices. But before grabbing that bottle of Organic Pinot off the shelf, you might be wondering, what exactly is Organic wine anyway?

What is Organic Wine Exactly?

Organic wines are essentially defined by three main factors:

  1. They are made from grapes that have not been touched by chemical such as fertilizers or pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.
  2. They do not have any sulfites added whatsoever. Some vintners might still choose to use sulfites in small quantities to stabilize the wine, in which case the wines can not be labeled organic but instead use the “Made With Organic Grapes” label.
  3. They grapes that are grown are grown from healthy biologically active soil using natural fertilizers (e.g animal manure). This same soil is also different in that it is bio diverse and has other plants, other than just the vines, that grow in the vineyard.

Is Every Wine That Is Organic Labeled?

There are wineries, many in fact, that take a totally organic approach to wine making, but do not want the added bureaucracy (and spending) on getting the necessary certification. For some the issue is more of a marketing decision. Some companies decide that they do not want to be positioned in the market as an organic wine – perhaps believing it will place them in a niche market. For others it is more a philosophical issue, believing that the government standards on organic wine are inappropriate and therefore dismiss them altogether.

But it is also important to keep in mind, when going out to get that great wine, that each country has a unique set of standards for what exactly defines an organic wine.

Is All Organic Alike?

The USDA has very specific standards on what can and can not be labeled Organic. To be labeled “100% Organic” the wine must contain 100% organically produced ingredients and absolutely no sulfites other than those that are naturally occurring.

To be labeled “Organic” the wine must be made from at least 95% organic ingredients, it must also include an ingredient label with organic ingredients labeled, and provide clear information on the certifying agency. No sulfites are permissible in these wines. Furthermore, the 5% of non-organic ingredients must be agricultural ingredients that are not available in organic form.

To be labeled “Made With Organic Grapes” the wine must be made with at least 70% organic ingredients, have the ingredient statement and certifying agency information same as the “Organic” label. The 30% non organic substance must also be due to the unavailability of an organic alternative.


One thing we know for sure is that the organic wine boom is on, as French, Italian and Australian wine makers are jumping on the organic bandwagon to feed the booming tastes of an increasingly mindful consumer market.

Look for our upcoming story, on exactly which are the best organic wines on the market!

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