What is the difference between an organic and a conventional wine?

To summarize, the difference lies in how the soil and the vines are treated as well as in the way in which the grapes are processed in the winery. In an organic farm the soil is naturally fertile and well structured with plenty of micro flora and micro fauna. This ensures that the vines grow in symbiosis with the environment and therefore produce grapes that can truly express the nature of the territory in which they are cultivated. In contrast, conventional vine growing farming places the emphasis on getting the best crop in terms of both quality and quantity by using chemical fertilizers, herbicides (that annihilate the soil’s micro flora and fauna) and systemic fungicides that work their way up into the vine plant to the grapes, thus producing ‘perfect’ bunches that have, however, lost part or all of what bonds them to the nature of the surrounding territory.

In a certified organic winery it is prohibited to use certain substances and carry out oenological practices that are, in contrast, allowed in conventional winemaking in order to increase the keeping qualities (storage life), stability or other qualities of the wine. The following procedures, for example, are not allowed in certified organic wine-making:

  • partial concentration by cooling, elimination of sulphur dioxide through physical procedures, partial de-alcoholization of the wine;
  • micro-biological stabilization (using sorbic acid, lysozyme etc.), acidification of the wine (using L-malic acid), tartaric stabilization (using electrodialysis treatment or carboxymethylcellulose), color stabilization (using yeast mannoproteins) or colour adjusting (using polyvinylpolypyrrolidone) and so on.

Some of the substances used in conventional wine-making are also allowed in a certified organic winery – but they have to have certified organic origins.  Rectified concentrated grape must, yeast cells, active dried yeast, fresh yeast, edible gelatin, vegetable protein obtained from wheat or peas, fish gelatin, egg albumin are examples of substances that can be used in certified organic wine-making as well as in conventional wine-making.

In the Poggio Trevvalle winery none of these substances are used so as to create a wine that fully reflects its ‘terroir’ and it is a pleasure to drink.