What is ‘Organic Wine’ and how is it made?
Organic wine is commonly characterized by the practice of sustainable and environmentally friendly methods throughout all stages of wine production, this includes both the viticulture and winemaking processes.
Organic wine is a wine produced from grapes that have been grown without the use of chemicals, artificial or synthetic, such as pesticides and herbicides. Instead, to prevent pests, bugs and weeds interfering with the grapevines, organic farmers will work in harmony with nature, not against it. They successfully do so by boosting the biodiversity in and around the vineyard which acts as a natural defence to unwanted pests. One example is that organic winemakers will introduce ‘cover crops’ near the vines, which are crops that provide a habitat for specific insects that help fend off the kind of insects that usually farmers target when using pesticides. Another creative but simple method that organic wine farmers will introduce is by having small sheep graze between vine rows, the sheep eat the grass and the weeds and maintain them in a self-sufficient manner.
Using natural methods of combating problems encountered in the holistic wine making process eliminates the need for artificial and synthetic chemicals. Winemakers are able to create self-regulating, natural ecosystems around their vines and thus forego the need to use chemicals. Organic wines, on the whole, are produced very similarly to normal wines, the main difference being that Organic Wine farmers embrace nature and refuse to incorporate anything artificial or synthetic into the process.
The benefits of organic wine
Organic wines contain fewer sulphites
Sulphites are an antibacterial preservative that are used to maintain the shelf life and colour of food and drinks and is commonly used by winemakers to keep wine fresher for longer. Organic wines do use sulphites to preserve the quality of wine over time, but these usually contain less than 50% of the sulphites that regular wines contain.
Some people are particularly sensitive to sulphites, for example people who have severe asthma reactions, or those who lack the enzymes that break down sulphites may have negative reactions to sulphites, so opting to drink organic wine as opposed to regular wine can help avoid the possibility of a negative reaction. Although the significant reduction of sulphites is a positive thing, it does mean that the shelf life of organic can often be less than regular wines.
Organic wines contain fewer chemicals and additives
As more and more people become concerned about the potential short-term and long-term health risks associated with synthetic chemicals and additives, many are turning to organic products as a safer alternative. Organic wines have gained popularity over the years due to their natural ingredients, and the fact no chemicals are used in the process.
Traditionally, vineyards will be sprayed with all sorts of different chemicals to fend off bugs, weeds, fungi, and anything else that could interfere in the process. Ultimately these chemicals will end up being present in the final product whereas the lack of chemicals used in organic wine making produces a much more natural end result.
Organic wines are better for the environment
Organic farming practices can include methods such as cover crops, animal grazing, green manures, water conservation, animal manures and crop rotations. Each of these methods are great at fertilizing soil, naturally managing insects and weeds, maintaining the balance of topsoil, promoting biodiversity an reducing the presence of harmful bacteria.
The lack of chemicals used in the winemaking process, such as pesticides and herbicides mean there is less pollution in surrounding waterways and communities. Such use of chemicals used on mass scale has received worldwide backlash from members of communities nearby farms as rivers, waterways and local land become polluted with the aftermath of these chemicals. Organic grapes improve the land they’re grown on, they don’t deteriorate it.
Organic wines contain less sugar
One of the most popular benefits of organic wines is the fact they tend not to contain any added sugars. The perceived sweetness of wine comes from both naturally occurring and artificially added sugars.
The final alcohol content of wine is determined by the amount of sugar (natural or added) that is present in the wine. It is extremely common for vintners to add sugar during the winemaking process to achieve the desired ABV percentage. This practice is also known as chaptalisation and its sole purpose is to increase/modify the alcohol content. In some cases, winemakers may also add sugars to mask any imperfections of the wine and its taste.
Organic wines typically will not add any more sugar than what naturally occurs in their grapes, thus producing low-sugar wines.
It’s claimed the hangovers aren’t as bad
Now any wine lover or connoisseur will appreciate a wine that doesn’t give you a hangover from hell the next day. The good news about organic wines is the fact that they contain far fewer chemicals and sulphites, which is claimed to lessen the effects of a bad head the next day.
Now of course, this is only in moderation. Even the most natural of organic wines can lead to a killer hangover if drank to excess. But as organic wines contain fewer sulphuric acids, and don't use chemical fining agents, they are claimed to be better for your health than ordinary wines.
Which countries produce Organic Wine?
Organic wine has seen some impressive growth over the past 15 years, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping. Between 2005 and 2019, the total surface area of organic vineyards increased by a whopping average of 13% per year, whilst the traditional non-organic vineyard surface area not surprisingly decreased by an average of 0.4% per year.
The majority of this growth was captured between 2005 and 2011 where the organic vineyard surface area grew on average 18% per year, which is phenomenal. However, the growth then slowed down to 4% per year between 2005 to 2011 and then quickly rose again to 8% per year from 2014 onwards… Quite the rollercoaster!
The global market for organic wines sees Spain, France and Italy account for 75% of the worlds organic vineyards, which puts Europe at the top of the organic wine movement. Surprisingly, Spain is the world's leading organic wine producer by area, accounting for a colossal 27% of the world’s organic vineyard surface area, closely followed by France and Italy.
We have curated some of the most impressive and diverse range of organic wines from across many different regions. So, whether you’re looking to stock up your fridge with organic wines for yourself, or gift some to a loved one, we have a great range on offer. Should you need assistance with choosing a suitable organic wine, or just need a little bit of extra information, our team is always here to help. Click here to view our Organic Wine Range.