How Organic Wine is Produced & Why You Should be Drinking It
WHAT IS ORGANIC WINE
Organic wine is wine made by the principle of organic farming, which means the absence of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and artificial chemical fertilizers in the vineyard. There are no chemical additives used throughout the winemaking process and the natural preservative sulphur dioxide which is essential to protect the grape and wine against bacteria and oxidisation, is kept to a minimum. To label the wine as organic in Australia, both the farming and the winemaking facility must be certified by one of the two main bodies in Australia. These are the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) and The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA).
ABOUT ORGANIC FARMING IN THE VINEYARD
The biggest risk to vines during summer is powdery or downy mildew, this occurs after a rain event when humidity is around and the vines have a heavy canopy.
This is controlled organically by spraying preventative natural fungicides like copper & sulphur every 2-3 weeks or trying to predict the rain or wet periods during summer and being prepared. Generally, due to the presence of healthy populations of beneficial insects like spiders, wasps and lacewings, there is very few insects or pest problems. Although the light brown apple moth has proven to be quite the pest. This is controlled biologically through the introduction of predatory wasps. For weed control, sheep are often grazed through the vines during winter and early spring which also controls the grass height. By taking precautions and controlling weeds naturally before a spread occurs, it eliminates the need for large ongoing weed maintenance. Generally most organic farms are very clean and maintained naturally.
ORGANIC WINE MAKING
When making organic wine, sulphur dioxide is allowed to be added but at different levels as to the regular wine standards. The maximum allowance of sulphur dioxide in wine in Australian is 300 ppm (parts per million) and organic wine is only allowed 100ppm under the NASAA certification. In Australia, most white wines would fall around if not under the 100ppm anyway and generally organic wines are found to be much less than the 100ppm. Organic wineries try to keep the levels to an absolute minimum. No other added chemicals are allowed to be used during the winemaking process.
BENEFITS OF ORGANIC WINE
Most people accept that organic food is generally healthier than non-organic and it is similar for organic wine. There are numerous benefits of organic wine compared to a mass produced wine, particularly that they are lower in sulphur and there are no chemicals added during the grape growing process and the making of the wine. Not only is it better for you, but it is a more sustainable way of farming which means it is better for the environment. As for the taste, there is no difference. There was a misconception that organic wine is poorer in quality and you couldn’t buy “nice” organic wine. This was due to the minimal amount of organic wine Australia had to offer and like any wine, the winemakers’ expertise might have played a part. These days organic wine is being made by some of the most experienced winemakers and in the same wineries as you would find other wines and are delicious.
If you have allergies to high levels of sulphur in wine and want to support organic farming methods, find some amazing organic wines made by Captains Creek Organic Wines.