Organics in the winery

In 2012 the EU introduced a new labelling term ‘organic wine’ as a point of difference from ‘wine made from organically grown grapes’, which reflects organic practices in the vineyard only.

This new category introduces rules for organic winemaking for the first time, limiting the use of certain additives and controlling practices. Some of the main stipulations are that the authorised maximum amount of SO2 is lower than for conventional wines, and additions such as yeast, gelatine and egg white should be derived from organic materials. It also prohibits manipulations like de-alcoholisation and concentration of the must.

Certification

Anyone can practice organics, but producers need to be certified in order to label their wines as organic. In EU countries, specific companies are authorised by government to issue certificates, control and inspect vineyards for compliance. For example in France, 80% of certified organic vineyards are overseen by Ecocert. They carry out between one and five inspections annually at a cost of €300
for the certificate.

Being 'official' isn't for everyone

Not everyone chooses to pursue certification though. Some object to it in principal, stating that those using chemicals ought to pay for certification rather than the other way around. Others object to the red tape or process involved. Most though choose not to certify for pragmatic reasons – giving themselves the flexibility to resort to conventional methods in challenging
years.

Meanwhile over in the USA, there are few certified organic producers due to the stipulation that the addition of sulphur at any level is not allowed. Again, they can label their wine as ‘wine made from organic grapes’, but many are instead choosing to pursue biodynamic practices and certification.