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Organic Wine Terminology Guide

All wine is natural or organic right? Just sunshine, grapes and yeast?  There’s a bit more to it with different farming techniques and winemaking methods. We’ve put together a guide to the terminology we think you need to know for the Organic Wine category. Learn the difference between Organic, Biodynamic, Sustainable farming. Find out the difference between certification, in-conversion and practising. Have you heard about about Low Intervention, Vegan-friendly, Preservative Free and Skin Contact wines?

Certified Organic

Guarantees a wine is produced free from chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers and GMO’s. Organic wine must also be made with lower sulphur levels, half of conventional wine, during the winemaking process. To gain certification producers undergo a three-year certification process with yearly and ongoing audits by a third-party certifying body, such as Australian Certified Organic (ACO) or The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA). Sulphur levels for certified organic wines are capped at 100 ppm for  red wine   and 150 ppm for white and rose wine. In comparison, conventional wine is capped at 250 ppm for dry wine and 300 ppm for sweet wine.

In-conversion Organic. 

Producers have commenced official organic conversion via a third-party certifying body such as Australian Certified Organic (ACO) or The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA). A wine can carrying the in-conversion logo after one year of audits. In the fourth year of conversion, a producer can apply for full certification and carry a certified logo.  As with certified organic wines, a wine is produced free from chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, GMO’sand with half of  conventional wine.

Organic Practicing

Producers farm according to organic principles but choose not to undergo the certification process. Producers in this category cannot use the term certified organic on their labels. There is no guarantee for the consumer that a wine is free from chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers or lower in sulphur.                               

 

 

Certified Biodynamic

Like organic certification, Certified Biodynamic is a three-year certification process and is regulated by a third-party and guarantees a wine is produced free from chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, GMO’s with capped sulphur levels (half of conventional wine) in the finished wine. The difference to organic farming is the additional use of natural field and compost preparations made with manure, herbs, mineral and organic matter to nourish and stimulate the soil. Biodynamic farming activities are also carried out according to the lunar calendar. Biodynamics is truly holistic and   aims to harmonise the farm to produce a healthy closed system of biodiversity.

 

 

Biodynamic Practicing

Producers farm according to biodynamic principles and methods but choose not to undergo the certification process. Producers in this category cannot use the term certified biodynamic on their labels. There is no guarantee for the consumer that a wine is produced according to biodynamic methods and is free from chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers or lower in sulphur.

 

 

 

Sustainable Practices

Indicates a producer takes into consideration farming practices that encompass positive economic, environmental and social impacts to ensure short and term long term viability of the vineyard and business. Look for producers that are members or are certified with Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA). SWA is the wine industry’s new peak national body for winegrowers and producers to lift sustainability standards.

 

 

Low Intervention

Also known as minimal intervention or natural wines, refers to wine that is made with a ‘hands off’ approach in the winemaking process from fruit preferably farmed organically or biodynamically (certified or practicing) or sustainably. These wines are made with indigenous yeasts, minimal additions and manipulations, without fining and filtration Organic Vegan Wine and with minimal sulphur added only at bottling.

 

 

 

Vegan-friendly

A wine produced wine without animal based fining agents used during the winemaking process. Fining agents remove solids from a wine, typical animal products used are: casein (milk proteins), egg albumen (egg whites), fish oil, gelatin (animal protein), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes). Fining agents for vegan-friendly wines include: carbon, bentonite clay, plant casein, silica gel and limestone. A producer may also use cold settling or simply use no fining agents, marketing their wine as unfined.

 

 

Preservative-free

A wine with no added preservatives during the winemaking process. Sulphites, most commonly Sulphur Dioxide (220) and Sodium Metabisulphite (223) are the preservatives used in winemaking. They act as an antimicrobial to kill natural yeast bacteria, and antioxidant to prevent spoilage of colour and flavour. Sulphur dioxide is a by-product of natural yeast fermentation, so even if a wine is preservative free, there will still be naturally occurring trace amounts of up to 10 milligrams per litre.


 

Low Sulphur

Wines have only a small amount of sulphur dioxide (up to 50 ppm) added at bottling for stabilisation and sterilisation.