The Important Rise of Organic Wine

Organic wine is a reasonably new trend in the wine world, which has been well-received by many consumers all over the world. There is an ever increasing presence of organic wines on the supermarket shelves, or stocked by specialist retailers.

As the global populus adopts a greater social conscience and a sense of responsibility, particularly related to health and the environment around us – knowing where our food and drink comes from and the impact that it has on the planet will only grow in importance. So the world has seen a growing importance and demand for artisan organic produce, along with many people now adopting a significantly greener lifestyle.

So, what is organic wine?

The definition of organic wine depends on where you ask the question, as it changes from country to country. Therefore what makes a wine organic in Europe is necessarily the same as in South Africa. Generally speaking, for a wine to be labelled as organic it must not have any chemical pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or fertilisers and have significantly limited levels of sulphites.

Where did it all begin?

We’ve been producing wine for thousands of years, and all wines were organic up until the nineteenth century when the pesticides and chemical fertilisers were introduced into agricultural farming. It wasn’t until around the 1970s that organic wine reclaimed some of the recognition it deserves (it was on a tiny scale across Europe and the US).

The uncertainty around the regulation and the risk of disease with unfertilised crops seemed to halt the movement – it wasn’t until the US and European Union clarified the classification of an organic wine, providing winemakers and consumers with clear cut guidelines for certification.

Is it worth trying organic wine?

Yes, yes and yes! With so many different producers of fantastic organic wines out there it would be a crime against your taste buds not to try at least some of them. Advice that is always given to newbies trying out anything is to go for something similar to what you know you like – so if you have a love-affair with a crisp dry white, find an organic version.

Will organic wine give me a hangover?
The obvious answer to this is, it depends on how much you drink. We’d love to say that you can hit a few bottles of Pinot and wake up feeling fine, but that won’t be the case. The natural fermentation process of the grapes will give you a slight feeling of haziness in the morning – but since there aren’t any toxic chemicals used in the growing cycle you should feel a lot better than if you were drinking conventional wine.

Natural wine and biodynamic wines

When it comes to trending terms in the wine world, natural and biodynamic have to be near the top of the list. You’ve probably heard the terms being tossed around a bit, but what do they mean?

Natural wine has nothing added and nothing taken away from it – which is one step further than organic wine. Whereas biodynamic wine involves the use of astronomical calendars, lunar cycles and ancient farming techniques. So, natural wine will always be organic, biodynamic might not be (it’s still super likely to be, but just check!).

Ellen Cone