An Introduction

Wine is an agricultural product; like all others, it can be produced conventionally or using an environmentally friendly approach. Organic farming and sustainable practices in the vineyard and the cellar result in wine that is better for the environment and the consumer. Producers committed to sustainable and responsible farming gain well-deserved recognition and the consumers’ favour. However, there are several types of wine in the category.

There are many differences between organic, biodynamic, non-sulphur wines and others. Ultimately, the winemakers’ approach to aligning their operations to preserve the environment results in better wine. These are the most common terms used in environmental and sustainable wine production -

Organic Wines

Organic wine, or wine made with organic grapes, is made with fruit grown without artificial chemicals like herbicides, pesticides or fertilisers. It also excludes genetically modified crops. Organic farming improves the soil and is better for the environment, but the organic principles must also be applied in the winery. Although wine is primarily a natural product, producers have many tools to alter the wine’s colour, flavour, mouthfeel and aroma, and some are artificial. Only organic additives can be used in organic wine except for moderate additions of sulphites or SO2, a stabiliser, antioxidant and sanitiser.



This label or wording on a wine bottle confirms that the grapes grown to produce the wine have been produced to organic standards. Since 2012, this certification also places restrictions on the wine vinification methods.

Natural Wine

Natural wine is made with grapes grown either organically or biodynamically. However, they are strictly made without additives during the entire process, from vine to bottle, including cultured yeast. Natural wine must ferment spontaneously and must be created with a non-interventionist approach.


The INAO, in charge of wine laws in France, and the Syndicate in Défense of Natural Wine developed a certification for “Vin Méthode Nature.” Although natural wine is prominent, certified natural wine is still developing worldwide. In France, there are two types of certified natural wine: Wine made without sulphites and wine made with less than 30mg/l of sulphites.

Bio-Dynamic Wine

Biodynamic farming practices follow the holistic techniques developed by Austrian Rudolf Steiner. Grape growers use natural preparations and fertilisers to nurture the soil and crops while aligning the work in the vineyard and cellar with the cosmic calendar. Biodynamic wine is also made with little intervention; it ferments naturally and is not clarified, fined or filtered. In the vineyard, biodynamics result in healthy soils and vigorous vines, ultimately producing exciting wines.


Demeter or Biodynamic Federation Demeter International, is a certifying institution that promotes biodynamics. The Demeter certification allows winemakers to use lesser amounts of sulphites to preserve the wine.


Sustainable Wine

Sustainable farming practices go beyond the way crops are grown. They include adequate waste disposal, preservation of flora and fauna, water management, and energy-saving practices. Wineries adhering to sustainable practices often consider fair human labour and the well-being of the communities in which they operate. Sustainable wine producers grow grapes organically or biodynamically, but their environmental commitment encompasses many other areas.

The most prominent sustainable programs in France are the High Environmental Value (HVE) Wine and the Terra Vitis National Federation.


The HVE recognises wineries with three levels of commitment, each stricter than the previous, focusing on biodiversity conservation, flora protection, fertiliser management and water use. Only operations complying with the most rigorous requirements (Level 3) can label their wines as HVE-certified. The two identification labels are as follows:

Haute Valeur Environnmentale Issu D'une Exploitation

- Uses High Environmental Value Farm products in production

Haute Valeur Environnmentale

- Produced by a High Environmental Value Farm

Terra Vitis certifies wine producers for their commitment to sustainable viticulture. The organisation focuses on environmental preservation, social responsibility, and economic sustainability.


Vegan Wine

Vegan wine, unlike organic, biodynamic or sustainable wine, focuses on avoiding using animal products during grape growing and winemaking. Therefore, wine doesn’t have to be organic or sustainable to be vegan. Since wine is made naturally with grapes and yeast, animal-sourced products don’t play significant roles in winemaking. However, clarifying or ‘fining’ wine to remove suspended solids and achieve a more polished look often relies on animal-based products, such as egg whites, gelatine, isinglass (fish bladder protein) and casein (milk protein). Vegan fining agents include bentonite clay and activated carbon. Currently, many winemakers prefer to avoid fining or filtering their wines to produce more authentic wines, which are, at the same time, naturally vegan.

Low Sulphur Wine

Sulphites, sulphur dioxide or SO2, are a natural chemical that stabilises and sterilises many food products while protecting them from oxidation. Sulphites are often used in winemaking, from macerating the grapes to bottling the finished wine. Although some people have allergic reactions to sulphites, the compound is safe for most people. Nevertheless, their use is regulated, and winemakers tend to reduce the amounts of SO2 used for several reasons. Natural and Biodynamic wine uses the least amount of sulphites.

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