Natural and Organic Wine

Natural and Organic Wine: Everything You Need to Know (Natural Wine)

Consumers are faced with new terminology and many questions as the wine industry moves toward an eco-minded mindset. What is "natty," or natural, wine? Is that equivalent to biodynamic or organic wine? Well, on that note, there are others besides you. 

Natural and organic wine all refer to aspects of wine that are related yet distinct. For example, all-natural wines must be organic because using organic grapes is required for making natural wines. Still, not all organic wines must also be natural because organic wine cellar regulations occasionally allow the use of additives and fining agents that aren't typically used in natural winemaking.

This confusion partly results from the fact that "natural" is not a legally defined term, and as the category expands, greenwashing also does. When looking for a bottle of wine, consumers need to know what kind of wine they are purchasing. Which is for this article, we will present everything you need to know about natural and organic wine. Read along to learn more.


Natural Wine (Biodynamic Grapes)

Natural Wine

Natural wine is believed to be a winemaking method used in the vineyards and the cellar, though there is no formal definition. Most producers share a few characteristics with natural wine. Outside the winery, biodynamic, organic, and/or sustainable farming techniques are carried inside and used to make wine with minimal to no chemical or technological involvement.[1]

Additionally, "natural wine" describes a minimally intervened winemaking philosophy. The guiding concept of the method is that nothing is added or subtracted.

Winemakers use organic or biodynamic grapes to create natural wines. The makers purposely use minimal to no additives or preservatives, allowing the grapes to ferment with wild yeasts. Independent growers grow grapes in small amounts with care, avoiding pesticides and other chemicals.


How Is It Made (Vineyards)

How Is It Made

Put simply; the procedure consists of two steps: growing and harvesting the grapes and then fermenting them to produce wine. So, natural wine is made from grapes that have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Natural wine producers harvest their grapes by hand rather than using machinery. 

Natural winemakers rely on native yeast, the substance whizzing around in the air and will settle on grapes if you put them in a vat for long enough to start natural fermentation when it comes to turning those hand-picked grapes into juice. They also don't add additives to the winemaking process, unlike most conventional winemakers, such as sugar, acid, egg white, or imitation oak taste.[2]


When Did Natural Wines Became Popular

When Did Natural Wine Became Popular


After World War II, the use of agricultural pesticides gained popularity. To protect their grapes, vineyards started employing pesticides and herbicides. When a few small-scale winemakers in rural France started reverting to minimally or completely uninvolved procedures in the 1950s[3], the natural wine movement was born.

When winemakers in these countries started using hands-off production in the early 2000s, the movement expanded beyond France:

  • America 
  • Argentine
  • Chile
  • Italy
  • Spain

Importers of wine soon started focusing on natural alternatives. Restaurants and bars began including them on their menus. Distribution was improving by the middle of the 2000s, partly because of expanding tendencies in organic farming.

Around the world, vineyards and wineries have kept developing their winemaking processes and practices. Even today, as more ecologically concerned consumers seek out purer, cleaner food and beverage options, there is still a market for natural wines.


Benefits of Natural Wine

Benefits of Natural Wine

Because fewer chemicals are used in the production of natural wine than in conventional kinds, drinking it has better health advantages. You may rest easy knowing your purchase supports sustainable agricultural methods because studies have proven that organic farming practices are better for soil quality and biodiversity than conventional vineyards when growing grapes for natural wines.[4] Additionally, since no sulphites were added during bottling, drinking heavily is less likely to result in headaches or hangovers (but moderation is still advised).


Organic Wines

Organic Wine

Organic wines are made from grapes that have been farmed organically. A vineyard manager must use different methods to maintain their plants to produce organically cultivated grapes.[5]

As for its characteristics, organic wine's taste, aroma, and mouthfeel are similar to conventional wine and do not differ greatly in terms of alcohol concentration. However, organic wine's shelf life is shortened by the comparatively low addition of sulphites. Organic wine could rot sooner than non-organic wine compared to the latter.

In organic vineyards, any variety of grape can be planted, including classics like cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. Similarly, every type of wine may be produced organically, including flat reds like merlot, sparkling whites like chardonnay, and brilliant rosés. Any wine can be considered as long as it is built with grapes grown organically and processed without sulphites.


How Organic Wine Is Made

How Organic Wine Is Made

The simplest definition of organic wine is wine produced from grapes grown using organic methods. The definition of "organic farming" varies from country to country, but generally speaking, it forbids synthetic chemical fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.[6]

When it comes to organic wine, the second step in the winemaking process is the fermentation of the grapes into wine. The situation becomes vaguer at this point. Numerous substances can be added during the fermentation process. Still, to receive organic certification, they must be expressly permitted and cannot make up more than 5% of the final product.

Sulphites cannot be added to wine during the fermentation process in the US for it to be certified organic. Sulphites are present in wine naturally. However, they cannot be added. Meanwhile, red wine must have no more than 100 mg of sulphites per litre to be certified organic in Europe.

Making wine organically forbids the use of any GMOs or prohibited additions, in addition to reducing the number of sulphites in the bottle. The significant loss from traditional winemaking is the absence of flavourings like malic acid and caramel, powerful wine additions like Mega Purple, and colouring agents like Mega Purple.

The wine can bear the label "Made with Organically Grown Grapes" even if the grapes used to make it were not certified organic throughout the winemaking process. Organic farming is still excellent, but if you're seeking the real deal, make sure you read the labels.


Benefits of Organic Wine

Benefits of Organic Wine

Compared to Natural wine, Organic wine also offers advantages[7]. Organic wine made from organic grapes is more natural and cleaner to consume because of the absence of chemicals from pesticides, fertilisers, and herbicides. It also has fewer sulphites, which is a preservative used in winemaking. This makes organic wine almost chemical-free since the process of making this doesn't need sulphites or any other chemicals.


Also, organic wine has more health benefits because it produces less sugar. Since grapes produce their natural sugar, artificial sugar or additives aren’t needed in organic wine. This specific type of wine also lessens the harsh effects of a hangover because of the lack of unnecessary chemicals added to artificial wine.


When Did Organic Wine Became Popular

When Did Organic Wine Became Popular

Before World War I, organic wines weren't mentioned. The global default was organic farming. Organic winemaking existed for 8,000 years until industrialisation and food shortages changed agriculture. After World War I, mechanical, synthetic tools changed worldwide farming.[8]


Meanwhile, chemical fertilisers, insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides are inorganic. The emergence of synthetics was an undeniable remedy to the damage caused by both world wars. From the 1950s through the late 1960s, the "Green Revolution" occurred. Agriculture focused on volume in a surprising but beneficial shift. A technology-driven approach led to the widespread use of agrochemicals (DDT, Roundup), higher-yielding seed varieties (unsuitable for quality grape production), and GMOs.


For saving nearly a billion people from famine, the Green Revolution was hailed. Today, hindsight and analysis show the expense of practices that exceeded their window of requirement. Unfortunately, agrochemicals have been connected to cancer, degenerative illnesses, and other devastating diseases. Farmworkers, who were hidden from consumers, were particularly at risk from repeated harmful spray exposure. Providing safe work environments for underprivileged farmworkers is still a pressing concern.


The 1940s saw a conscious shift to organic techniques. The movement was started by scientists Sir Albert Howard, Walter James, and J.I. Rodale. Synthetic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and chemical fertilisers were limited or banned. They worked on establishing farming ecosystems that increased soils, plant immunity, and indigenous flora and fauna. By abandoning quantity, they promoted quality and health. And farmworkers' health and safety.


Organic foods were popular in the 1970s in America. To enhance the sector, California farming communities advocated for federal regulation. In 1980, CCOF was formed. The nonprofit coalition defined "organics" and became a certifying authority. Their work led to the USDA's National Organics Program and federal legislation. Organic certification in the U.S. was made possible by a standardised definition of organics. The EU didn't embrace regulatory certification until 2012 for reasons we'll discuss.


The enthusiasm for additional organics in wine has been slow and hard to monitor. Certifications differ by country and occasionally within certifying agencies. Organic wines have been rising in popularity and production. Monty Walden, a prolific wine writer and biodynamic consultant, said that in 1999 less than 1% of the world's vineyards were certified organic, compared to his current estimate of 5-7%. As of now, the organic wine market is continuously growing as people prefer healthy wine alternatives[9]


Difference Between Natural and Organic Wine

Now that you know the definitions and information of natural and organic wine, let's examine the distinctions they have:

  • Processing: Natural wine relies on spontaneous fermentation, while organic wine is processed according to standard procedures. With Natural Wine, there is very little intervention.
  • Regulation: Natural wines are not regulated. However, organic wines are, and certification markers can be seen on the label of the wine bottle.
  • Grapes: Natural wines are produced with organic grapes, though biodynamic grapes are occasionally used. Grapes grown using organic methods are the only source of organic wine.
  • Technology: Low-tech, labour-intensive techniques are used to create Natural Wine. The grapes are manually selected and crushed. High-tech picking and crushing equipment are used to produce organic wine.
  • Additives: While organic wines may have additives as long as certified organic, natural wines are produced without chemicals.


Similarities of Natural and Organic Wine

Now that the differences are more evident, organic wine and natural wine also have similarities: 

  • Sulphites: Sulfites are not added to either type of wine during production. Natural sulphites are the only sulphites that are present.
  • Additional Limitations: Any materials utilised in producing organic wine must come from organic sources. We only utilise approved ingredients.

The choice between natural wine and organic wine comes down to personal preference. One is distinct and crisp, but the other can be unpredictable. 


Which is wellness better: Natural or Organic Wine?

Choosing which wine is the best is only a matter of preference. Furthermore, all you need to do is check their characteristics and choose the one best for you. Moreover, the fundamental distinction between natural and organic wine is the lack of additives in the former. However, certain organic wines may employ fining agents. Additionally, although a qualified third-party organisation must authorise organic wine to use the word "organic," natural wines do not need to be certified legally. 

Now that you know everything you need about natural and organic wine, you can search for the best wine for your special occasion here at Kendricks Familia Imports!

Back to blog