How do you tell if a wine is organic or not?

What is organic farming?

Simply put it is:

– no chemical fertilisers

– no herbicides or chemical weedkiller

– no systemic pesticides (no systemic insecticides and no systemic fungicides)

When you buy organic you are guaranteed that the product has been grown free of systemics and GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Organic wine: divining the signs

In the European Union it is illegal to mention the word organic anywhere on your product unless you are certified by one of the approved certification bodies.

It is a long road to become organic and certified. This is not something easily done just for markeEU-Organic-Logolimeting purposes. It is true commitment financially, physically and mentally. Three years of organic conversion are required for vines.

All wines with the European leaf logo (right) are guaranteed organic wine-making not just organic farming. Since
2012 organic wine-making rules guarantee the end consumer lower sulfites and far fewer entrants than those accepted in conventional wines. Overall you are guaranteed a purer wine with less additives in the wine-making process. If a wine fails the wine-making no mention can be made of organic even if it has been farmed organically.

Organic wine guarantees lower sulfites. Why care about lower sulfites?

The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommend a maximum of sulphites of 0.7mg per kg of body weight per day. So a man of 100kg should have about 70mg per day. At legislated EU levels for conventional wine that means an average person reaches the maximum at just over a third of a bottle of white wine. Some countries have way higher levels than the EU. For example Australia has limit across most wines of 250mg/l and USA of 350mg/l (more than double the EU for red wines) per litre. At these levels just a single glass will put a large man over his sulphite (or sulfite) limit.

To take a concrete example : for red wine the EU norm is 150mg/litre the new organic wine rule is 100mg/litre. For biodynamic Demeter it is 70mg/litre. With certified organic dry wine you can enjoy two glasses and stay well within the recommended level.

With European wine the organic leaf logo guarantees you are getting organic farming and winemaking. Organic rules and wine labelling rules are very stricly enforced in Europe – buying French organic wine offers labelling certainty.

See my article on Chateau Latour going organic and why you should definitely question someone who says they are organic but not certified.

See my top ten why celebrate supporting organic farming and an indepth three reasons to choose organic wine

Come and learn more about organic farming with a visit to Chateau Feely in South West France ; stay with us or do a multi day course or multi day tour . You can read about the story of our organic farm the series includes three books Grape Expectations; Saving our Skins and Glass Half Full by Caro Feely.

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Clover and grass at Chateau Feely organic vineyard