To set the scene, organic wine is still a relatively small sector: it represents around 3.6% of global consumption. But with more than a billion bottles of organic wine expected to be consumed worldwide each year by 2022, this is becoming increasingly important.
Millesime Bio – a trade fair organized at the heart of wine in France and dedicated to organic wine – puts the industry in the spotlight.
A way of living
For wine growers, interest in organic comes from two directions. For some producers, being organic is a fundamental philosophyof their business and a necessity for the longevity of their land and their business. Quality is also a key reason: many wineries believe that the quality of their wine is improved by chemical-free soil.
There is also a growing sense that the market is demanding organic – and will continue to do so with more strength in the years to come. Supporting figures: in five years, the consumption of organic wine has almost doubled, from 349 million bottles in 2012 to 676 million bottles in 2017.
The EU is by far the largest producer of organic wine, accounting for around 90% of the world’s organic wine-growing area. Italy, France and Spain are globally the leading wine producers in the world; and with a growing emphasis on organic, together they account for 79% of organic wine production. Spain, in particular, has seen the area devoted to organic vineyards grow by 522% over the past ten years.
With the number of wineries currently in conversion (it takes three years and four vintages to convert) it is expected that the supply of organic wines will increase further in the years to come.
Organic wine at the top of Wine Intelligence’s SOLA opportunity index [sustainable, organic, lower alcohol], mainly due to the fact that “organic” is generally recognized and understood by consumers (understanding is more difficult for more specialized terms such as “biodynamic” or “vegan”).
There is a strong awareness of the term, not only within commerce and among consumers, but also as a ripple effect of neighboring F&B categories such as coffee and chocolate.
What is an organic wine?
In the EU, organic production has been regulated since 1991. There are also rules for organic winemaking.
In short, wine must be made without the use of chemicals or GMOs, using only natural fertilizers such as green manure or compost, and there are restrictions or prohibitions on certain processes and additives, and a restriction on the level of total sulphite in the finished wine. .
For organic wine producers in the EU, converting to organic is a long process: it takes three years and four vintages to convert to organic.
However, with a number of wineries currently in conversion, this suggests that the supply of organic wines will increase further in the years to come.
In the United States, organic wines must meet the same USDA organic certification requirements as other products, as well as meet the requirements of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, especially with regard to labeling of sulphites. . There is a distinction between “wine made from organic grapes” and “organic wine” (which also requires yeast and other agricultural ingredients to be organic).
Case study: France
France – a country where the organic food sector has really taken off in recent years – is experiencing a mirror boom in the organic wine sector. The turnover of the sector has jumped, with a growing number of vineyards converting to organic and a more sustained demand from consumers both domestic and foreign.
“The universe of organic wines is expanding rapidly and does not seem to want to stop», Explains Patrick Guiraud, president of SudVinBio, the French inter-professional association of organic wines from the South Occitania region, and organizer of the annual MillesimeBio organic wine fair. “Globally, more than 1 billion bottles will be consumed annually from 2022.
“The French organic wine industry is structured to meet this demand: and the strong acceleration in conversions over the past three years has made it possible to meet demand.
In 2016, 87 new vineyards turned to organic. In 2017, this figure was 572. Today, there are 5,835 vineyards certified organic or in conversion.
At the end of 2017, 10% of the vineyards in France were either certified organic or in conversion.
There are 1,778 million hectares, up 15.6% from the previous year. The area of organic vineyards has increased by 249% over the past 10 years.
The first producer is the South Occitania zone: which represents 36.5% of the organic wine-growing area of the country and produces 800,000 hectoliters of wine in 2018.
In a favorable year, we can expect organic production of around 1 million hectoliters. In Corsica, the organic vineyard is an integral part of the sector: it represents more than 30% of the total area.
Organic wineries create, on average, 1.5 times more jobs than their non-organic counterparts. Skilled workers represent 18% of the workforce, compared to 12% in conventional cellars.