Organic Wine, What Does It Mean?

We are often asked if we carry organic wines. The answer is yes, but there are varying definitions of "organic". California has taken the forefront in legislation regarding organically grown produce. As of yet, there are no federal regulations regarding labeling of organic food. Each state is in charge of controlling foods promoted as organic. Currently, there are no wineries that are certified organic, only vineyards can receive certification. Wine labels may use 4 different phrases to denote some form of organic cultivation -- organically grown, certified organically grown, certified organically grown and processed, or herbicide and pesticide free.

For grapes to be considered organically grown they must be produced without any form of synthetically compounded fertilizer, pesticide, or growth regulator. Only plant, animal, or mineral-based substances can be used. After the grapes are harvested, other compounds, such as sulfites or Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), are added to stabilize the wine preventing oxidation and deterioration. To be considered as Certified Organically Grown and Processed a wine cannot have any synthetic compound, including sulfites or SO2, added during picking, fermentation, bottling, nor used to disinfect wooden casks.

European countries have a looser definition of "organic". Wines labeled as organic, natural, or biodynamic may contain the addition of any added sulfites from naturally derived sources, or copper sulfate may be sprayed on the vineyards to prevent odium (a fungal disease). In short, there are varying degrees of "organic" wines and many winemakers and grape growers may practice some of the steps required of organic production but may not disclose that fact on the label. Here at The Boulder Wine Merchant we will consider any wine produced from grapes grown utilizing organic crop management as an "Organic Wine".