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What is organic wine?

Organic wines are becoming increasingly popular, but are labels and logos claiming to be “organic” to be trusted? Exhaustive quality control is making it easier to enjoy truly organic wine. But, when it comes down to it, what is the difference? It’s all in the details.

By:  Juan Bolaños @ Biovinos
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“Bio”, “Biological”, “Organic”, “Eco” and “Ecological” are protected terms throughout the European Union for all products derived from organic farming and certified as such. In order to carry the organic logos and labeling, the European Union has created a series of requirements and restrictions controlling the use of their logos and terminology. The various autonomous regions in Spain are in charge of ensuring that those using these labels have complied with the regulations put in place by the European Union.

Environmental conservation and health benefits are at the fore of this production model. Organic wine producers avoid the use of artificial chemical products and cultivate plants that attract insects that help regenerate the earth naturally. In the last five years the number of organic vineyards has doubled in Spain.

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Why should we consume organic wine?:

what is an organic wineCare for the land and its microbial activity

When producing organic wine vineyards make use of natural compost and fertilizers instead of chemical substances and concentrated fertilizers.

what is an organic wine biodiversityProtecting biodiversity

Maintaining vegetation is a natural source of nitrogen fertilizer and helps avoid disease. A natural way to protect biodiversity.

what is an organic wine insectsPromoting the presence of beneficial insects

Organic farming promotes the presence of pollinators such as bees and lacewings to help remove aphids and other harmful species. The popular ladybug, for example, is a natural predator of insect pathogens.

what is an organic wine polycultureDevelopment of polyculture

Organic wine producers grow multiple crops in the same space in imitation of natural ecosystems. Fruit trees, olive trees and even using the land to raise animals help increase local biodiversity and protect the soil from erosion.

what is an organic wine contaminationAvoiding contamination

Producing organic wine helps avoid contaminating the environment via contaminated water or other waste products. In organic wineries detergents and disinfectants are prohibited. They are only allowed to use jets of pressurized water.

what is an organic wine diseaseAvoiding disease on vines

Sulphur and copper sulphate are used only under exceptional circumstances. Organic farming uses insect-resistant varieties or pheronomoes that act as sexually attractive traps to confuse insects and repel their reproduction.

what is an organic wine fermentationFermentation using natural or native yeast
Organic wine producers use various techniques such as natural clarification using egg whites or gelatine as fining agents, although the use of low percentages of sulphur dioxide is allowed (a third of the amount used in the production of conventional wine) as a preservative, antiseptic, disinfectant and antioxidant. Tartaric acid can be used to correct acidity.

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The information and logos you’ll find on the label on organic wine bottles are the best guarantee for consumers. In Spain the label on an organic wine bottle should read “vino elaborado a base de uva procedente de agricultura ecológica” (wine made from organically grown grapes). Every autonomous region has its own logo showing the organization in charge of regulation alongside the phrase “Agricultura Ecológica”.

But watch out! In recent years new labels are being used that can be confusing for consumers. These denominations are not ratified by any agency and have been created to communicate a certain respect for the environment without any regulation, control or inspection. Their success lies in public ignorance of organic rules and regulations in Europe.

One of the most subtle examples is that of “vinos cuidadosos con el medio ambiente” (wines produced with care for the environment). These wines have not been ratified by any organization. Therefore, if you’re looking to consume wine that is produced organically and in a way that is respectful to the environment, better try certified organic wine.



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