Producers of wine that is labeled “Made With Organically Grown Grapes” must adhere to the strict organic rules set by set by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and administered by the National Organic Program (NOP) within the USDA. USDA NOP Definitions as of 12/2012:

Wine “Made with Organic Grapes”

Wine sold, labeled, or represented as being “made with organic grapes” must meet these criteria:

  • 100 percent of all grapes (of all varietals) must be certified organic, and be:
    • Produced without excluded methods including most conventional pesticides, fertilizers, synthetic ingredients, genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge.
    • Produced per the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List).
    • Overseen by an organic certifying agent.
    • Any remaining agricultural ingredients (e.g., yeast) are not required to be organic, but must be produced without excluded methods as listed above.
  • Any non-agricultural ingredients must be specifically allowed on the National List.
  • The wine is produced and bottled in a certified-organic facility.
  • Sulfur dioxide (sulfites) may be added to yield less than 100 parts per million in finished grape wine, but may not be added to wine “made with” other organic fruit (e.g., apples).
  • Labels must state the name of the certifying agent (certified organic by *** or similar).
  • Label may state, “made with organic grapes.”
  • Labels may not include the USDA organic seal.

“Organic” Wine

Wine sold, labeled, or represented as “organic” must meet these criteria:

  • All grapes and other agricultural ingredients (including yeast, if commercially available) must be certified organic, except those on the National List.
  • Non-agricultural ingredients must be specifically allowed on the National List and may not exceed a combined 5 percent of the total product (excluding salt and water).
    Sulfur dioxide (sulfites) may not be added.
  • Labels must state the name of the certifying agent (certified organic by *** or similar).
  • Wine labels may include the USDA organic seal and be sold, labeled, or represented as organic.

Importing Organic Wine from the EU

Many USDA-authorized certifying agents operate in foreign countries. This allows USDA organic products from over 100 countries to be imported to the U.S. EU organic wine may be imported to the U.S. if the wine meets the desired labeling category’s requirements:

  • “Organic” wine. Wine must meet the requirements highlighted in the “organic wine” section. Examples of prohibited substances include sulfur dioxide (sulfites) and potassium metabisulfite.
  • Wine “made with organic grapes.” Wine must meet the requirements highlighted in the “made with organic grapes” section. Substances not specifically allowed (e.g., potassium metabisulfite) may not be used.

Sulfites and organic wine

Bodegas Iranzo also produces USDA Certified Organic No Sulfites Added wines have developed proprietary methods to ensure their wines’ stability as well as outstanding vintages with an extended shelf life of 1-2 years. They start by selecting only the highest quality healthy grapes, grown in optimal conditions. These are often hand-picked to help ensure premium grapes. The wine is produced in super hygienic conditions, bottled after a short fermentation and capped with a screw cap to ensure that no oxygen can reach the wine until it is opened. The resulting wines are fresh and flavorful.

Low levels of added sulfites are allowed in wine labeled as “Made with Organic Grapes.” In wines labeled as “Organic” no added sulfites are allowed and naturally-occurring sulfite levels must be under 10 parts per million (ppm). Sulfur dioxide, a compound formed from sulfur and oxygen, occurs naturally during fermentation in small quantities. All wines sold in the United States that contain any sulfites over 10 ppm must be labeled as “contains sulfites.”

Producers of wine labeled as “Made With Organic Grapes” use the lowest level of sulfites possible to prevent spoilage and bacterial contamination. The legal maximum for the combination of natural and added sulfites in wines labeled as “Made with Organic Grapes” is 100 parts per million (ppm) vs. the limit of 350 ppm in conventional wines. The average amount of total SO2 found in the bottles of “Wine Made With Organic Grapes” analyzed by the official BATF laboratory is 40ppm for red wines and 60ppm for the white wines.

The Health of the Soil is Paramount to Producing Healthy Grapes

Organic growers work toward maintaining biologically active soil. This includes incorporating techniques such as the use of cover crops and natural fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers. It also includes planting of companion crops, such as Echinacea and other flowers to attract natural predators to eliminate the use of pesticides. Organic growers promote ecological biodiversity among the vineyards, allowing other plants to grow in and around the vineyard in order to attract beneficial insects, bees, spiders, etc.

Weeds are allowed to grow within the rows, then mowed and plowed under periodically in order for the weeds to provide a natural fertilizer for the soil. Over time, organic vineyards develop a natural resistance to adverse weather and insects and tend to produce better quality grapes even in the most adverse growing conditions. Organic growing techniques have the least detrimental impact on the environment. While organic vineyards do not have the “clean” rows that you would find in a conventional vineyard, the nutrient-rich soil produces an outstanding organic terroir for growing the finest quality grapes in the world.

Organic Winemaking

Organic techniques are also applied during the winemaking process in a certified organic processing facility including minimal processing and no use of chemical additives. Every aspect of production must meet the strict criteria set forth under the USDA organic regulations, from fermentation to cleaning the facility and bottling.