Discovering The Grapes: organic wine

We recently hosted our first ever tasting soiree at our new wine bar, The Amicable Society of Lazy Ballerinas, located on Fleet Street in London. During the tasting, our Wine Bar Manager, Edgar Znutins educated guests on organic, biodynamic and natural wine. As part of our ‘Discovering The Grapes’ series, we’re leaning on the expertise of Edgar and his team at Lazy Ballerinas and this week, we’re exploring organic wine. Follow along with our series on Instagram @LazyBallerinas #DiscoveringTheGrapes and join us as we learn more about wine together.

What is organic wine?

Organic wine is wine made from grapes grown in accordance with principles of organic farming. This typically means excluding the use of artificial chemical fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. In most cases, artificial chemicals are used to protect vineyards from hazards such as pests and adverse weather conditions.

What’s the difference between organic and non-organic wine?

The main difference between organic wine and non-organic wine lies within grape growing itself. However, that’s not the only difference. Wine is produced in two steps: the first step is in the vineyard and the second is in the winery. If grape growers follow the rules of chemical use in vineyards, they are essentially practicing organic farming. In the winery, the issue of wine preservation (sulphur dioxide use) during wine making is generally a key point of how organic wine is defined in different countries.

Sustainability and organic wine making

It’s common to take additional steps beyond standard organic wine making to apply sustainable farming practices. Examples include the use of composting and the cultivation of plants that attract insects that are beneficial to the health of the vines. Sustainable practices in these vineyards can also extend to actions that have seemingly little or nothing to do with the production of grapes, such as providing areas for wildlife to prevent animals from eating the grapes and allowing weeds and wildflowers to grow between the vines. Sustainable farmers may also use bio-diesel for tractors in the vineyards to reduce emissions among the vines, or even plough with horses.

Organic wine making around the world

Organic certification of wine in each country is often extremely complex and most countries have adopted different rules. In the US, the National Organic Program sets standards for certification of organic foods, including organic wines. In the UK on the other hand, organic wine is defined as such made out of organic grapes. It’s common for wineries that are technically organic to choose not to be certified due to the high demands and cost of certification.

At our tasting soiree, we were lucky enough to try a variety of organic wines from around the world, including the Bonterra Organic Red Zinfandel from the US, Urlar Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, El Esteco Cuma Organic Malbec from Argentina, Château Mille-Roses 2015 from France and the Bodega Mustiguillo Bobal, Finca Terrerazo from Spain.

Have you tried any organic wines? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram!

Read the next instalment in our Discovering The Grapes series here.