Why producers are turning to organic wine


Organic wine represents a small percentage of global sales (estimated at around 2.8%): but it is a growing market. The growth area for organic wine production has tripled over the past decade, despite challenges for producers to comply with strict certification and the added expense of complying with additional rules.

For many wine producers, it is a personal interest in eating and drinking organic products; while for others, it is a question of maintaining the sustainability of their land and consequently their business. Meanwhile, producers often cite better-tasting, better-quality wine as the motivation for going organic.

BeverageDaily spoke with organic wine producers from Italy, South Africa, Greece, Bulgaria, Spain and France at the Millésime Bio World Organic Wine Fair in France (held in Occitanie, the leading organic wine region in France, representing 35% of organic wine production) to highlight why organic is important to them.

What is an organic wine?

Organic wines are essentially those produced according to the principles of organic farming, which excludes the use of chemicals or pesticides.

In the EU – which is by far the largest producer of organic wine, accounting for around 90% of the world’s organic wine-growing area – 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.

Spain, Italy and France are the leading producers of organic wines: together they represent 79% of organic wine production.

In France, organic vineyards represent 9% of the total vineyard area: discover this market with SudVinBio, the organization representing organic wines from the south of France, in the video clip on the right.

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 regarding 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).

Organic wine markets

  • Consumer interest in organic products is attributed to many factors: the desire to be exposed to fewer chemicals, to get more vitamins and minerals, to eat locally and to support sustainable agriculture. Some consumers believe that organic wine reduces hangovers due to the reduced sulfite content.
  • The six main global organic wine markets are France, Germany, United States, Italy, United Kingdom and Austria.
  • In France, sales of organic wines have experienced an average annual growth of 20% over the past seven years. For wine growers in France, one of the challenges is to meet consumer demand.
  • Austria has the highest proportion of organic vineyard production at 9.6%.
  • In Italy, organic wine represents around 2% of the total wine volume. Purchases of organic wines increased by 14.9% in 2016, and by 109.9% in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period of the previous year.
  • In the UK, organic wines represent 2.2% of the wine market by volume, but are expected to grow by 14.3% in 2017. Millennials are a key target group, who want to feel like responsible consumers and like to discover the origins. of their products.
  • In Sweden, organic wine held a 17% market share by volume in 2015, compared to 2.6% in 2008.
  • In Switzerland, organic wine represents 2% of the total wine market.

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