Australia is the fourth largest wine exporter in the world. It has over 60 wine regions and more than 160,000 hectares of vineyards, which produces over 750 million liters from different vineyards in regions such as Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia, as well as South Australia. The country is proud to produce some of the best quality wines.
Australia is developing an international reputation as a producer of organic wine that involves clean, natural and green farming. It has a robust local market when it comes to the production of such wines that are made free of chemicals. They are also grown and made in a way that is environmentally friendly and devoid of preservatives. South Australia is the leader in producing the best eco-friendly wines with Organic Hill organic wines among many other brands that are now readily available.
A lot of these are thanks in large part to the increase in the number of talented as well as skilled young winemakers. These winemakers passionately cultivate or seek out organically grown grapes for making their wines. Other important factors are the rise of farmers’ markets and organic wine bars where drinkers are enjoying the benefits.
From the look of things, young Australians are excited about this trend and this will likely become a norm in the near future.
What are Organic Wines?
The term organic typically refers to something natural; something that does not involve artificial means but made by natural, non-invasive processes. This is what this type of wine is about. They are made with grapes that were organically grown and without the use of synthetic or artificial chemicals. Rather than use fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, farmers maintain their vines using practices that are purely natural.
These practices can include animals roaming the farm to feed on insects, grass as well as other unwanted pests. It could be introducing cover crops for nitrogen fixation, and that attract beneficial insects. It also involves using compost, manure as well as crop residues as a means of fertilization. In essence, organic farming employs ecologically-based methods involving plant and animal wastes for fertilizing the soil.
All of these helps to reduce the leaching of nitrates into groundwater as well as surface water. It also prevents or reduces soil erosion.
The making of these wines does not stop at the farming stage. It also continues into the winemaking process and winemakers do not use any non-organic method or additives. There are no genetically modified organisms present and also no synthetic additives. Additionally, the wine contains less sugar and less alcohol when compared to conventional ones.
Sulfites as an Additive
One very common additive that is of interest is sulfite. This is because it is used in wines as a preservative. It is also needed to protect the wine from getting oxidized and from unwanted bacteria. Sulfite is a derivative from Sulphur which is naturally occurring. It has antibacterial properties and has been used in wines for centuries to preserve its flavor, character as well as color.
Most organic wines may not make use of sulfites while some include it in small quantities. In any case, even when it is not used as an additive, wines still have small quantities of sulfites. This is usually from the yeast added during fermentation. Using sulfite in winemaking is not dangerous but there are people that are allergic to it.
Every country has laws governing the use of sulfites both in conventional and organic wines. While in the United States, for a wine to be certified as organic, it must not contain any sulfite. In Europe and Canada, it is allowed. For Australia, the allowable sulfite limit is half or less of the maximum allowable for wines. You can learn more about sulfites here.
How to Know a Brand of Wine that is Organic
Before a bottle of wine can be sold as organic, it must be certified. It is illegal in most countries to advertise a bottle of wine as organic when it is not so. The best that can be done is to label it “made with organically grown grapes”. A proper certification involves getting the logo of the certifying body which is typically done by an independent third party.
In Australia, there are two well-known certifying bodies used by most winemakers and growers. These are the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASSA) and Australian Certified Organic (ACO).
When buying a bottle, you should look out for the logo of the certifying body on the label. This is what gives you the assurance that the wine is organic.
There are other bodies that are not as prominent such as OGA Small Producer Program and Demeter. These usually check for their biodynamic status. You may also see practices or principles. This indicates that the winemaker is not yet certified but follows the principles as well as practices of organic wine growing and winemaking.
The extent to which the principles and practices are undertaken vary. Doing this a lot of the time is the start point for vineyards to becoming certified. It could also be a case of cost constraint so these wines should not be discounted.
Why Organic Wine?
The essence of making and drinking organic wines is because it tastes much better than conventional ones. It is also much healthier. With no chemicals, little or no preservatives, low levels of sugar as well as lower levels of alcohol, you experience fewer headaches and hangovers.
For people who are intolerant to some of the ingredients used in conventional wines, eco-friendly wine is a viable alternative.
Another very important reason for them is a consideration for the environment. Growing grapes in eco-friendly, biodiversified conditions help the environment. You can find some of its benefits here http://www.organicsoul.com/what-real-health-benefits-are-attributed-to-drinking-one-a-glass-of-organic-wine-a-day/.
The organic wine market in Australia is steadily increasing as more winemakers are interested in it. Additionally, people have begun to see and to appreciate its health benefits. Remember that there are several statuses that these wines can carry. To know a certified one, just check the labeling on the bottle and look out for the logo of the certifying body.