Organic series: what is organic wine?

Organic series: what is organic wine?

This article is the first in our organic series, in which we deepdive into how organic wine differs from conventional wine. Follow along as we explore the processes behind organic winemaking and the benefits for both consumers and the environment.

There's a growing momentum around a societal return to our roots, particularly when it comes to enjoying food. Ethical, sustainable production is everything, and this has carried over to the wine industry in the form of organic wines. After all, what's the point of a natural, sustainable meal if you can't have a glass of wine alongside it?

Fortunately for us, producing wine organically is nothing new; in fact, some of the greatest European wine brands began their empires by producing wine this way, prior to the advent of farming chemicals, and remain dedicated to the method to this day.

The appeal of organic wine lies in its positive effects on the environment as well as its health benefits, but many wine drinkers also appreciate it for it’s pure flavour. The extra care and love taken in organic growing translates to what you taste in the glass, making it a wonderful way to really appreciate the humble wine grape in all its natural beauty.

So, what makes a wine organic?

Put simply, organic wine is wine made from grapes that have been grown organically. As with organic farming of other fruits, vegetables and animal products, organic vineyards use natural fertilisers and pest control instead of those that are synthetic or man-made.

Organic vineyards also place a huge emphasis on farming in ways that minimise impact on the land, ensuring the natural balance of the soil and surrounding environment stays intact. No artificial chemicals or genetically modified organisms can be used during the winemaking process, and if other components are added, such as yeasts or proteins, these must also have been organically produced. 

Terms like natural wine, preservative-free and vegan are often used in the same breath as organic. While organic wines can be all of these things, they aren't always. It’s important to know that wines can be organic and still contain animal products, which are used in trace amounts to refine and stabilise wine, as well as preservatives.

Each country has different rules about what constitutes organic; in Australia, organic wines tend to have a third or a quarter of the SO2 of non-organic wines, which makes a noticeable difference for most drinkers. ‘Natural wine’ is an unofficial term that is used to describe low-intervention wine, made using traditional processes and containing few or no additives. Many of these wines are organic, but not all. 

How can you be sure a wine is truly organic and a producer is actually walking the walk, not just talking the talk? 

Certification, certification, certification. To gain organic certification in Australia, wineries must undergo rigorous testing and inspections of their entire grape growing and winemaking process, from vineyard to bottle. Only wineries that have successfully gained certification, and continue to meet the requirements each year, are permitted to display an official certified logo, such as the Australian Certified Organic logo, on their bottles. Seeing this logo is the only guarantee that an organic wine has been produced from organic grapes, which is a certification in its own right that's earned over a minimum of 3 years. It also means that wine production complies to the national organic standard. 

With the upcoming generations' passion for our planet so evident, there's every indication that organic wines may become the norm in the future. The Australian organic wine industry is evolving rapidly, so there's no better time to start your organic journey than today!

Mount Avoca is Australia’s most highly awarded organic winery, and the only Australian Certified Organic winery and vineyard in the Pyrenees region. Taste our premium quality, fully certified organic wines by visiting our cellar door, or shopping our wines online, and yes, all Mount Avoca’s organic wines are also vegan.