Sulphur and copper are permitted because they are naturally occurring. Certification is voluntary and can be undertaken with several organisations (Ecocert being one of the better known) whose logos will appear prominently on the bottles of any approved wine. It is an intense and lengthy process that offers consumers a guarantee of the wine’s organic authenticity.
There’s no denying that organic wine certification is quite a commitment both in terms of time and finance and as a result wine drinkers are likely to have come across a range of alternative terms: “lutte raisonnée” and “terra vitis”.
The first of these comes with no rules, regulations or checks and so whilst it suggests a commitment to working in a more environmentally sympathetic way and with less chemicals there are no guarantees. ‘Terra Vitis’ does inspect its members who are expected to provide complete traceability of their practices but producers are allowed to use pesticides when justified. So, again, it’s something of a moveable feast.
The question of course is ‘why’? Why does organic matter to a significant number of wine makers?
In a nutshell it’s all about vineyard health and producers who opt to work organically firmly believe that no or reduced chemical intervention is better for the soil’s health, the vines and ultimately the grapes they yield. Organic practices include the planting of cover crops between the vines which can help prevent soil erosion from water and wind, increase soil nutrition and provide a natural habitat for predators of those insects that cause vine damage.