Organic winegrowing means no synthetic chemicals, including pesticides and herbicides, can be used in the vineyards to tackle pests and disease. Certification is provided by an independent third-party organisation. In Australia we have two main certifying bodies most winegrowers will use to prove that their wine is organic. These are Australian Certified Organic (ACO) and the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA). The logo will be printed somewhere on the wine label.
Wines will go through a filtering process called fining in order to clarify and stabilise their wines. Typical fining agents such as gelatin, isinglass, egg whites and milk proteins which are all derived from animals. In contrast, vegan-friendly wines are either fined with the help of natural materials such as bentonite clay, carbon and limestone, or completely unfined and unfiltered.
For a wine to be considered natural, winemakers must not add anything to the wine in the cellar that’s not naturally occurring – things like preservatives, additives, or chemicals. Similar to organic wines minus the official certifications – which can be an expensive process for small growers.
Sustainable wine refers to the farming and winemaking practices that winegrowers follow to reduce their environmental impact. They take into account things like waste management, energy and water conservation, protecting and enhancing the soil, and working with nature. Both Australia and New Zealand have national programs that work with winegrowers who are committed to becoming more sustainable. Taking it a step further, more brands are looking at ways they can reduce their carbon footprint with lower impact packaging and carbon neutral shipping.
Biodynamic wine is also organic and growers don’t use any chemicals or additives. The big difference here is that all activities in the vineyard, the planting, pruning, composting and harvesting are done according to a cosmic calendar, based on the lunar cycle and astrological events.
Here are just a few of our favourite sustainable, organic and vegan wine brands that don’t cost the earth.