Certification 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.
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 carry 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’s and sulphur levels are capped at half that of conventional wine.
Producers farm according to organic practices but are not certified. Producers in this category cannot use the term 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.
Biodynamics is organics! Like organic certification, biodynamic certification 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 and astrological calendars. Biodynamics is truly holistic and aims to harmonise the farm with a focus on healthy soils and a closed system of biodiversity.
Producers farm according to organic and biodynamic practices 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 wine is free from chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers or lower in sulphur.
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 grown organically or biodynamically (certified or practicing). 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.
Not all wines are vegan! The part of the winemaking process where animal by-products may be used is called ‘fining’ and takes place before filtering and bottling. In conventional or organic winemaking, fining is common practice and may use either vegan-friendly or animal-derived products for this process. Fining agents for vegan-friendly wines include carbon, bentonite clay, plant casein, silica gel and limestone. Animal-derived products include casein (milk proteins), egg albumen (egg whites), fish oil, gelatin (animal protein), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes). In low intervention winemaking, a winemaker may use cold settling or simply use no fining agents, marketing their wine as unfined.
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. In conventional 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. 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.
Decisions on farming practices take into consideration economic, environmental and social impacts to ensure short and long term viability of the vineyard and business, as well as the health of employees. As of 1st July 2019, there is a new national body for the wine industry called Sustainable Wine Growing Australia (SWA). This body supports growers and winemakers meet modern sustainability standards.
A small amount of sulphur dioxide is only added at bottling of up to 50 ppm to help stabilise the wine and prevent spoilage of colour and flavour.
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