All wine is natural 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. Easy to understand. Learn the difference between Organic, Biodynamic, Sustainable farming. Find out the difference between certification, in-conversion and practising. Don’t forget about Low Intervention, Vegan-friendly and Preservative Free!
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 threeyear 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.
Like organic certification, to become 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 indicate 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.
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 and with minimal sulphur added only at bottling. These wines truly represent the vineyard the fruit is from.
In a Vegan-friendly produced wine there is no 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.
In a Preservative-free wine there are 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 only to help prevent spoilage of colour and flavour.