All of your questions about organic wine answered

A clo­ser look at the defi­ni­tion of orga­nic wine and what is invol­ved in the orga­nic wine­ma­king process.

In a world whe­re the mar­ket for sus­tai­na­ble pro­ducts con­ti­nues to expand, it may seem like orga­nic wine is a recent addi­tion. In actua­lity, orga­nic wine was around long befo­re mass health food sto­res beca­me com­mon and the phra­se “go green” star­ted appea­ring in adver­ti­sing campaigns.

Orga­nic wine arri­ved as a pro­duct of the orga­nic move­ment of the 1960s which was born out of con­su­mer con­cern about che­mi­cal use in com­mer­cial agri­cul­tu­re. At this time, peo­ple began to reali­ze that pes­ti­ci­des and other che­mi­cals com­monly used on farms might also be dan­ge­rous for human beings and the envi­ron­ment. As a result, orga­nic wine began appea­ring on super­mar­ket shel­ves in the 1980s but was unfor­tu­na­tely met with skep­ti­cism. Con­su­mers won­de­red: Does orga­nic wine tas­te as good as its non-orga­­nic coun­ter­part? What are the bene­fits of orga­nic wine? And perhaps most impor­tantly, why should we buy it?

Whi­le orga­nic wine is bet­ter tas­ting, more affor­da­ble, and more acces­si­ble today than it was in the early days of the orga­nic move­ment, many of the­se same ques­tions per­sist. Let’s ans­wer them.

What does organic mean when it comes to wine and why is it beneficial?

When choo­sing a bottle of wine – whether it’s for an anni­ver­sary cele­bra­tion, a family vaca­tion, or just a sim­ple week­night din­ner – one is met with many choi­ces: orga­nic, natu­ral, biody­na­mic, “made with orga­nic grapes.”

Why choo­se orga­nic? What does it actually mean?

When choo­sing a healthier, more sus­tai­na­ble wine, the choi­ces seem vast. Whi­le the­re is some nuan­ce, ulti­ma­tely, you will likely find your­self seeing the follo­wing labels: orga­nic, natu­ral, biody­na­mic, and vegan.

Let’s begin with orga­nic. Orga­nic wine is pro­du­ced with no che­mi­cals. This means that no pes­ti­ci­des or her­bi­ci­des are used when far­ming and no sul­fi­tes, pre­ser­va­ti­ves, sta­bi­li­zers, or other addi­ti­ves are added during the wine­ma­king pro­cess. Orga­nic wine must be cer­ti­fied to earn its label (more on that in a moment).

Natu­ral wine is made with low or zero-inte­r­­ve­n­­tion far­ming prac­ti­ces which can inclu­de non-irri­­ga­­tion. Typi­cally, the­re are also no addi­ti­ves. Unli­ke orga­nic wine, natu­ral wine does not requi­re any strin­gent cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, so con­su­mers should be awa­re of that when selec­ting this product.

Biody­na­mic wine is made with sus­tai­na­ble prac­ti­ces cen­te­red on a spi­ri­tual, holis­tic approach to far­ming and pro­duc­tion that uti­li­zes the biody­na­mic calen­dar and requi­res cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from Deme­ter Inter­na­tio­nal or Biody­vin Approval.

Vegan wine is made without ani­mal pro­ducts, such as egg whi­tes, fish blad­der pro­teins, gela­tin, and other fining agents. Worth noting: vegan wine is not always organic.

Orga­nic wine can be both biody­na­mic and vegan, and it follows more strin­gent sus­tai­na­bi­lity prac­ti­ces than natu­ral wine. It also comes with health and envi­ron­men­tal bene­fits, a pure, deli­cious tas­te, and bet­ter ethi­cal practices.

Its health bene­fits inclu­de immu­­nity-boo­s­­ting pro­per­ties that are due to ele­va­ted levels of anti­oxi­dants. The envi­ron­men­tal bene­fits inclu­de healthier soil, water, flo­ra, and fau­na due to the prohi­bi­tion of che­mi­cals in far­ming. Its exce­llent tas­te, which has been tes­ted via stu­dies, is the result of a healthy terroir and natu­ral aro­ma. The ethi­cal prac­ti­ces used to pro­du­ce it are the same as one might find when prac­ti­cing any kind of sus­tai­na­ble con­su­me­rism; when you buy orga­nic pro­ducts, you sup­port the pre­ser­va­tion of the land, human, and ani­mal health.

What is the difference between organic and non-organic wine?

How does organic wine improve biodiversity and sustainability?

Orga­nic wine is not only bet­ter for tho­se who drink it, but also for the envi­ron­ment. This begins with its orga­nic far­ming prac­ti­ces. On an orga­nic farm, the­re are no pes­ti­ci­des, her­bi­ci­des, or che­­mi­­cal-laden fer­ti­li­zers. This allows nati­ve plants and ani­mals to thri­ve. Birds, a key spe­cies that deter­mi­ne the bio­di­ver­sity of an envi­ron­ment, do espe­cially well in areas whe­re orga­nic far­ming is pre­sent. Orga­nic far­ming also pre­vents soil ero­sion as a result of increa­sed plant life.

All of this adds up to increa­sed bio­di­ver­sity and sus­tai­na­bi­lity. A wide ran­ge of plants and ani­mals bene­fit from the orga­nic far­ming that an orga­nic winery uti­li­zes, and the futu­re of that envi­ron­ment is always the focus.

Another exce­llent way that orga­nic wine­ma­king can work towards sus­tai­na­bi­lity is through pac­ka­ging. Wine pac­ka­ging options in today’s mar­ket inclu­de tra­di­tio­nal glass bottles, along with cans, boxes, and even refi­lla­ble grow­lers and PET bottles. Many orga­nic wine­ries are adding boxed wine to their rota­tion and focu­sing on using recy­cla­ble and reusa­ble mate­rials to avoid sin­­gle-use plas­tic and bene­fit the environment.

What is the difference between organic and non-organic wine?

One loo­ming aspect of the con­ver­sa­tion around orga­nic wine is how it com­pa­res to its non-orga­­nic counterpart.

Although they may look the same in the glass, the­re are many dif­fe­ren­ces. The­se ran­ge from che­mi­cal usa­ge to cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. The most impor­tant dif­fe­ren­ce bet­ween the two is the usa­ge of che­mi­cals and addi­ti­ves both in far­ming prac­ti­ces and wine­ma­king prac­ti­ces. Orga­nic wine­ma­king res­tricts the usa­ge of che­mi­cals on the farm and addi­ti­ves in the wine cellar. Non-orga­­nic wine, on the other hand, may come from farms whe­re pes­ti­ci­des and her­bi­ci­des are used on the plants, and sul­fi­tes and other addi­ti­ves are used in the winemaking.

Due to orga­nic wine­ma­kers’ belief in esche­wing che­mi­cals and unna­tu­ral addi­ti­ves, nothing toxic is pas­sed onto the con­su­mer in the glass. This also bene­fits vine­yard wor­kers who do not have to suf­fer the harm­ful effects of pes­ti­ci­de expo­su­re. This oft-ove­r­­loo­­ked aspect of orga­nic wine­ma­king should be of inter­est to anyo­ne who belie­ves in ethi­cal labor prac­ti­ces as part of a sus­tai­na­ble lifestyle.

Orga­nic wine also must be cer­ti­fied. Savvy con­su­mers know to look for this cer­ti­fi­ca­tion on the label and not to be foo­led by terms that sig­nify sus­tai­na­bi­lity (“fresh” or “natu­ral” for exam­ple) without bac­king it up with proof.

Organic wine certifications – how are they earned and what do they mean?

You may look for the orga­nic label when pur­cha­sing wine, but how is that label ear­ned. The orga­nic wine cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­cess is incre­dibly rigo­rous. Orga­nic wine­ries that use the label have truly ear­ned it and con­ti­nue to earn it through their ongoing com­mit­ment to sus­tai­na­ble practices.

An orga­nic wine’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion dif­fers slightly depen­ding on whe­re it is sold, but the basic prin­ci­ples remain the same. In the Uni­ted Sta­tes, orga­nic wine is cer­ti­fied through the Uni­ted Sta­tes Depart­ment of Agri­cul­tu­re (USDA) through a three-year, five-step pro­cess during which a wine­ma­ker must imple­ment orga­nic prac­ti­ces, sub­mit to over­sight from a USDA agent, and main­tain strict stan­dards. In the Euro­pean Union, the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­cess very simi­lar but bears one nota­ble dif­fe­ren­ce: a very small amount of sul­fi­tes (100 parts per million) is allo­wed. You will note this dif­fe­ren­ce if you see a wine labe­led “made with orga­nic gra­pes” in the Uni­ted Sta­tes that would simply be labe­led orga­nic in Europe.

In either case, the orga­nic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, which can be noted by way of a tell­ta­le label, demons­tra­tes a com­mit­ment to sus­tai­na­ble far­ming and wine­ma­king. Any wine­ma­ker that follows this meticu­lous and lengthy cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­cess is com­mit­ting to the health of con­su­mers, emplo­yees, and the local plants, ani­mals, and people.

What makes Domaine Bousquet special?

Domai­ne Bous­quet is a family-owned winery in Men­do­za, Argen­ti­na. Our wine is orga­nic and vegan. From the vine to the pro­ces­sing of the gra­pes to our focus on bio­di­ver­sity and per­ma­cul­tu­re, our wine sets the stan­dard for ele­gant, sus­tai­na­ble orga­nic wine that is per­fect for a gathe­ring with friends or a quiet eve­ning at sun­set with char­cute­rie and a loved one.

Domai­ne Bous­quet is nestled in the moun­tain com­mu­nity of Tupun­ga­to. We pri­de our­sel­ves on hiring emplo­yees from our com­mu­nity becau­se we belie­ve that sus­tai­na­bi­lity also means sup­por­ting our local eco­nomy. Ninety-five per­cent of our emplo­yees resi­de just six miles away. We also sup­port local schools and spon­sor local sports teams.

Addi­tio­nally, we sup­port the land our winery is loca­ted on by amplif­ying bio­di­ver­sity and let­ting the natu­ral envi­ron­ment around our farm thri­ve. We also have our own orga­nic vege­ta­ble farm onsi­te. We do not use che­mi­cals and we never ove­ru­se our water supply.

Tas­te the Domai­ne Bous­quet dif­fe­ren­ce for your­self by pic­king up a bottle of pinot gri­gio, char­don­nay torron­tés, mal­bec, caber­net franc, or one of our many other varie­tals. We also offer tours, tas­tings, and are always avai­la­ble to ans­wer any ques­tions you have about our winery or the orga­nic wine­ma­king pro­cess as a whole.