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Organic Wines – The confusion and clarity

Every second wine bottle in the store claims to be organic. What’s with the organic tag? Are they really organic or they are just labeled so? Let us look into what a organic wine should contain and what it should not.

Going back in time, all farming, including grape farming is organic; however, the fact to consider is that most vineyards are not organic anymore. The 1990 National Organic Foods Act was the first effort towards protection of handler, retailers, processors, producers, and consumers of organic food materials on the assumption that they are organic. Under the act, for fermented beverages,  a certification from an accreditation agency is mandatory accompanied by the label design for approval. Wines however were not included on the organic list until Hallcrest Vineyards challenged the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and won its favor. Since, many vineries have been certified as organic adhering to the process.

Wines can claim the organic label under four categories – Some organic ingredients, Made with organic ingredients, Organic, and 100% Organic. Understanding these categories is very important before a buying decision is made.

To label a wine as organic wine and get the UDS organic seal:

  1. The wine should be made from grapes cultivated organically i.e. no pesticides and chemical fertilisers.
  2. No added sulphites should be present in this natural wine. Sulphites could naturally occur, however, they should be less than 20 ppm (parts per million). Such wines are certified organic across the world, but not in the USA.

Most varieties of Chilean Wine is certified as organic internationally, however, please read the ingredients carefully. All in all, caveat emptor should be exercised and a consumer should not be misled by the labels or advertisements that promulgate organic wine.

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