Organic wines are subject to strict regulations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For a wine to be labeled “100% organic” and bear the USDA organic seal, it must be made from 100% organically produced ingredients (in other words, the grapes must be grown organically), have an ingredient statement on the label, and identify the certifying agency. A wine in this category can have naturally occurring sulfites but no added sulfites, and the total sulfite level must be less than 100 parts per million.
To be labeled “organic” and bear the USDA organic seal, the wine must be made from at least 95% organic ingredients and naturally occurring sulfites below 100 parts per million. The nonorganic 5% must either be a nonorganically produced agricultural ingredient that is not available in organic form, or another substance like added yeast.
Biodynamic farming is an approach based on the esoteric teachings of Rudolf Steiner. The light of the sun, moon, planets and stars reaches the plants in regular rhythms. Each contributes to the life, growth and form of the plant. By understanding the gesture and effect of each rhythm, practitioners can time their ground preparation, sowing, cultivating and harvesting to the advantage of the crops they are raising.
Today, biodynamic farmers treat the farm or vineyard as a self-sustaining ecosystem. They use natural predators instead of pesticides, save seeds, use compost for fertilizer and grow crops that are appropriate for the local environment. In winemaking, this means that winemakers must study the soil, and carefully decide which varietals will best express the vineyards’ characteristics. Biodynamic wines are most frequently certified by the Demeter organization.
To be classified as vegan, a wine must be produced with no animal by-products, including fertilizers.