Organic Wine

ALL Products at Sedlescombe are ORGANIC. Some products, in addition, are also BIODYNAMIC.

'Organic' is a legally protected term and may only be used for food and drink products when these have been independently certified by an approved certification body such as The Soil Association, The Biodynamic Association, or similar organization. Organic wines can only be produced from certified organically grown grapes and must be produced in a certified organic winery. So called 'Natural wines' which have gained some publicity recently may or may not be organically certified, and often rely entirely on the discretion of the individual wine producer as to whether or not to use organically approved inputs and are not subject to the rigorous independent inspections necessary for certified organic accreditation.

The EU Organic Logo

The Differences
The main difference between organic and conventional wines is what happens to the soil and vines in the vineyard. No chemical fertilizers, herbicides (weed-killers), or systemic fungicides (stop mildew diseases, etc) or insecticides are allowed in organic vineyards. Soils are kept healthy and fertile using composts, green manure cover crops such as clovers, etc. which also improve wild-life habitats for insects (bees and butterflies) and birds.

The only crop sprays allowed at the discretion of the certification body are non-systemic minerals such as sulphur and copper which stay on the plant surface and do not enter the sap system or leave residues in the fruit like the systemic chemical sprays used in non-organic vineyards do. These rather 'primitive' organic sprays are less effective at controlling diseases meaning much hard work shoot positioning and de-leafing around the bunches is also required to keep the vine canopy open and airy to help prevent fungal diseases. Many organic vineyards, including Sedlescombe, are gradually switching their vineyards over to newer disease resistant vine varieties requiring little or no spraying. 

In the winery, several additives and wine making aids permitted for conventional wines are not authorized. Sulphites which are used to prevent premature ageing of wines have to be kept to about one third less than the amount allowed for ordinary wines. Look for the EU organic certification logo on the label, and do not be fooled by some sellers claiming that the grower is organic but doesn't bother getting his wine independently certified. If it's not certified.... it isn't organic!

Furthermore, genetically modified organisms (GMO's) are not permitted in Organic systems. This means that animal manures cannot come from stock fed with feedstuffs containing GMO's and that yeasts and other wine making materials have to be certified GMO free when used in organic wines. Just how many of the so-called 'Natural Wine' producers are even aware of some of these more obscure regulations, let alone adhere to them, is unknown!