An increased focus on the environment and an awareness of sustainable agriculture have given rise to a huge increase in organic viticulture. This is an exciting area of growth in the world of wine, and if done right, one that leads to better wines, healthier vines and soils, and less stress on the earth.
But what makes a wine organic?
Organic wine refers to a method of farming, rather than winemaking. It all starts in the vineyard, where vignerons and viticulturalists no longer use synthetic or systemic pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers. Instead they opt for organic compounds such as copper and sulfur, which can help reduce he pressure of disease and pests. This results in much better vine and soil health, with no unwanted chemicals leeching into local rivers and waterways through run-off.
Organic farming is not to be confused with Biodynamic farming which, although similar, is a different approach and requires many more specific practices. These practices such as specific soil preparations, and lunar-cycle harvesting are not necessary to achieve an organic system.
It is important to note that organic wines can still have sulphur dioxide added to them. Sulphur is an organic compound, and therefore winemakers are free to add it to their wines, and still achieve organic certification. Winemakers will often add sulphur to help stabilise the wine and protect it from oxygen come bottling time. The wine will still be completely organic, assuming the proper farming practices have been adhered to.
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