Are organic wines sulfite free?

Both terms, organic and biologic (as Italians use it), underline methods that make use of living organisms and their products.

These methods, at first intended to be applied mostly in the vineyards, are based on the concept that healthy soils make healthy plants, and consequently it reduces chemical intervention on the vine, which can gradually “learn” to apply natural self defense, limiting the use of chemicals as the last option for very extreme situations.

To achieve that, the EU protocol of the organic production, lists operations that aim to preserve the natural setting of the terrain “terroir” such as: maintaining organic matter (humus) in the soil, create balance between animal and plant’s organism of the soil, keeping stable soil structure to balance water and air penetration and avoid erosion, reducing mechanical side effect for the soil, apply better management of the vineyard for better sun and light exposure, preference to use indigenous varietals, which are more organized to live and resist to local natural constrains , etc.

Lately, the concept has been extended to include wine making operations, in compliance with the more natural approach of growing grapes and making wines from them, where certain activities are now reduced or forbidden.

One of the above, mainly due by the consumer’s concern, is the limitation to use sulphites. Limitation, because has been impossible to completely avoid them in the regulation, while agreeing that their use, on conventional wines, is too high.

The outcome has been the limitation and reduction of SO2 value, taking in the account also the residual sugar value as trigger: reduction of 30 mg/l for many wines with r.sugar >2 gr/l and < of 5 g/l. reduction of 50 mg/l per wines with r.sugar < 2 gr/lt.

To be noted that in case of adverse climate conditions, flexibility on application is allowed.

But with so many EU Countries producing wine at different climate conditions, one solution fitting all, will never make everybody happy. Some Country is happy enough, while others complain that without an important difference in sulphites use, between conventional and organic wine, there is no way to market the latest effectively, forcing the communication to focus only on the agricultural aspects.

The above confirms my opinion that the sulphites diatribe, belongs more to the promotional needs than to the organic production prerequisite.

So my point is that organic and sulphites are two separate points to address, and should not be considered as depending from each other. Yet, it holds true that by leveraging the consumer’s attention on sulphites content, organic production can gain much higher interest.