Organic and sustainable wine: when a wine can be so defined

Organic wine has not always “existed”, or better, it was there, but it was not recognized as a specific category. It was the European directive n° 203/2012 of March 9, 2012 to introduce and recognize this specific denomination. Before that time, organic wine was simply indicated in the label with the wording: “produced with grapes from organic farming“. The regulation on this subject has marked a decisive turning point, as now are also regulated the wine making process of organic wine. Every specification is approved by the Standing Committee on Organic Farming (SCOF). In order to define and recognize in an unequivocal way organic wines from all the others, it was also created a proper logo that certified companies can (and must) put on wine labels.

European Directives and Norms

The production and trade of organic wine are regulated in the European Union by the following directives and regulations:

  • Regulation 848/2018/EU of the Council and Parliament (which, however, will only come into force in the year 2021, replacing Regulation 834/2007 from that time onwards
  • Commission implementing regulation 464/2020
  • Implementing regulation 1165/2021/EU

Recital #27 and Article #18 of Regulation 848/2018 state that:

Detailed production rules should be defined with regard to plant, animal and aquaculture production, including in particular rules on the collection of wild plants and algae, as well as with regard to the production of processed food and feed and the production of wine and yeast used as food or feed, in order to ensure harmonization and compliance with the objectives and principles of organic production.

Vino biologico

Article 18

Article 18 specifies the production rules

  1. Operators producing products of the wine sector shall comply in particular with the detailed production rules laid down in Part VI of Annex II.
  2. The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 54 amending

(a)in Part VI of Annex II, point 3.2 by adding additional prohibited oenological practices, processes and treatments or by amending those additional elements

The rules for the production of organic wine are therefore contained in:

  • Annex II, Part VI, to Regulation 848/2018.
  • Commission Regulation 464/2020
  • Implementing Regulation 1165/2021/EU (which integrates what is provided in the mentioned point 3.2 of Part VI of Annex II to Regulation 848/2018)

Organic wine: characteristics

Organic wine producers must therefore comply with the European directives for the production and marketing of organic wines. In general, an organic wine producer must use at least half the number of adjuvants compared to a conventional producer. In dry red organic wines the maximum content of sulfur dioxide must be equal or lower than 100 mg/l. In white wines the maximum content is equal to 100 mg/l. In white wines instead it can be equal to 150 mg/l maximum. Italian wines, including Amarone della Valpolicella and Recioto della Valpolicella, have values much lower than the ones set by the EU. And they do it in a natural way as the climate conditions of Italy are much more favorable than many other countries of Europe, the values dictated by European regulations are almost always respected in a natural way.

An organic wine must

  • be produced with organic grapes – that is grapes must be cultivated without the use of synthetic chemical substances and without the use of genetically modified organisms. Therefore no fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and pesticides in general.
  • Be vinified using only authorized oenological products and processes indicated in Directive 203/2012.

Prohibited Practices

Some practices are prohibited, such as:

  • the elimination of sulfur dioxide by physical process
  • tartaric stabilization by electrodialysis
  • Partial dealcoholisation
  • Partial cold concentration

Substances used for vinification must not be of chemical origin in any way. Alternatives of vegetable, animal and mineral origin are allowed:

  • Proteins extracted from wheat and legumes
  • Fish glue
  • Gelatin
  • Albumin
  • Tannins

Moreover the winery must have an appropriate certification of compliance issued by a recognized certification company. An organic wine has an extra attention to the territory and to the environment. It has a story to tell, linked to the producer, to the territory and to the history of the production area. Every producer can follow his or her own production preferences, however continuing to respect the norms imposed by the European Union for organic wines.

Our cellar has got the RRR certification, the first “certification of sustainable area” in Italy.