The definition of organic wine is simple:
It is made with organically grown grapes;
It contains only organic additives (fining agents, yeast, etc.);
It is processed with only a short list of chemicals additives;
It doesn’t contain GMOs or other prohibited ingredients.
Ingredients like yeast, egg whites, and animal enzymes (like rennet in cheese) are allowed in organic wines; that means that organic doesn’t necessarily equals vegan.
The first wave toward a more conscious agriculture came in the 1950s, and it was a sort of resistance movement against the industrialized, mechanized agriculture. The first national entity for organic viticulture was the “Association Française pour l’Agriculture Biologique”, founded in 1962 by Julien Guillot. The first European regulations appeared in 1991 and, from then, Europe has always been at the forefront in organic viticulture. According to the European Statistical Agency Eurostat, between 2002 and 2011, organic vineyards increased their surface area from 16.000 ha to 80.000 ha in Spain, from 15.000 ha to 61.000 ha in France, and from 37.000 ha to 53.000 ha in Italy. These three Countries combined account for almost 73% of the worldwide production of organic grapes.
There is a great difference between the wines made in the United States and those made in Europe. The US do not allow the use of sulphur dioxide (SO2), while the EU does: sulphur additions are limited to 100 mg/L in red wines and 150 mg/L in white/rosé wines. Why does this matter?
Sulphites are important to preserve and stabilize the wine (similarly to what is done for almost any other processed food).
The goal of organic viticulture is to eliminate harmful additives at every step of production, that ultimately are bad for our health and the environment, and to preserve the purity of the grape and of the terroir.
You can find our selection of organic wines HERE.