From Grape to Glass – A Deeper Look at Organic Wines
The production and consumption of Organic Wines have skyrocketed in recent years. With growing awareness of the need to preserve the planet while living healthier and more sustainable lifestyles, it is no surprise that Organic Wine has become increasingly popular. Pair this with a globally diminishing interest in chemical-based agricultural processes, and the sky becomes the limit for this niche industry.
The term Organic Wine may sound simple, but there is a lot that goes into this classification. Let’s look at some of the most misunderstood aspects and key points related to Organic Wine.
Is Yeast Present in Organic Wines?
Without yeast, there is no wine, be it conventional or organic. Yeast is necessary for fermentation, during which the sugars of wine grapes convert into alcohol. Different types of yeasts exist, and only some can be used in organic wine production.
Organic wine yeast strains are grown on plant substrates as a part of certified organic agriculture. The yeast is separated from the substrate and dried without using an emulsifier. These yeast strains are then used to produce organic red, white, and rose wines.
Another technique utilizes what is known as wild yeast, indigenous yeast, or natural yeast. Only the naturally occurring yeast found on the grapes or in the winery is used in the production process. No external yeast strains are added.
Popular North American Wine Certifications
USDA Certified Organic
These wines must adhere to the USDA’s criteria in both farming and production. The essence of the certification promotes the protection of biodiversity and natural resources by limiting synthetic products. This certification is a rigorous three-year process where vineyards are required to transition away from the use of prohibited substances.
Demeter Certified Biodynamic
Biodynamic wines demand an even higher commitment level that views the vineyard as one all-encompassing organism. The certification requires biodiversity and ecosystem preservation, livestock incorporation, an ecologically conscious approach to land use, and the strict prohibition of genetically engineered organisms.
Made With Organic Grapes
As the title suggests, these wines are made with 100% organic grapes and are produced without synthetic additives. The main difference from a Certified Organic wine is the level of sulfites present. Sulfites may be added to wines with this label, but the level must remain below 100 parts per million (ppm).
Is An Organic Wine Necessarily Vegan?
Most organic wines cannot be considered vegan as they use natural and organically occurring animal proteins to remove impurities from the wines. Casein (milk protein), gelatin (animal protein), and albumin (egg whites) are the most used products. Dedicated vegan wineries will instead use agents such as charcoal and bentonite to refine wines or even produce unfiltered, raw wines.
How Much Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) is in Organic Wines?
First, it is a myth that wine can be made entirely free of SO2 as it is a natural by-product of fermentation. Certified Organic wines do not contain any added sulfites, but naturally occurring sulfites will always be present.
Sulfites in Wine by Classification
Natural Wines – under 10 ppm naturally occurring sulfites.
Made With Organic Grapes and Biodynamic Wines – up to 100 ppm added sulfites.
Conventional Wine – In Canada, this limit is dependent on residual sugar levels. For wines with less than 50 g/L of residual sugar, up to 30 ppm is allowed. Wines with between 50 and 99 g/L of residual sugar are permitted to have up to 35 ppm added sulfites, and wines with more than 99 g/L residual sugar can have up to 45 ppm of added sulfites. [i]
Countries With the Most Organic Vines in the World
These are the top three nations across the globe that have the most hectares of land producing organic grapes. [ii]
#1 Spain – more than 100,000 hectares
#2 Italy – approximately 85,000 hectares
#3 France – about 70,000 hectares
These three European countries account for nearly 75% of all organic vineyards in the world. Although Spain boasts the most hectares of organic vines, Italy and France both outproduce it in terms of bottles. [iii]
The Main Benefit of Drinking Organic Wines
The lack of manipulation in both the field and cellar leads to a more natural and undoubtedly better wine for you. The grapes themselves are healthier, producing heartier skins and higher concentrations of things such as antioxidants. Organic wines are free of residual traces of synthetic additives such as RoundUp and other chemical-laced pesticides and herbicides. Additionally, Organic Wines have less sugar than their conventional counterparts.
With the number of global hectares of organic vines steadily increasing, more wine growers converting, and consumer demand on an upward trajectory, the future for Organic Wines is certainly full-bodied.
BC Retail Options
Mas Vino is working to expand our portfolio of Organic wines.
British Columbia restaurants or retailers interested in our Organic wines can find them listed on Liquify at the links below:
Alberta restaurants or retailers interested in our Organic wines can find them listed on Liquor Connect at the links below: