Organic viticulture and wine making is the combined process of making wine from organically farmed grapes, which excludes any use of synthetic chemical treatments (pesticides, herbicides or fungicides) nor fertilisers. Organic vignerons and winemakers use organic methods because of the better quality fruit and wine it produces as well as the reduced personal health, environmental and safety impacts that result.
Wine production can be simply divided into two activities; firstly what happens in the vineyard and secondly what takes place in the winery.
Organic grape growing involves the developing and maintaining of a sustainable vineyard system using natural agricultural ecosystems to the maximum extent possible to maintain healthy soil plus disease and pest control. Only natural materials (typically Sulphur and Copper based products) are used to treat vines against disease and any fertilisers or plant nutrients are naturally produced.
In the wine making process, controlled selection of all materials inside the winery is required to prevent taints and chemicals getting into the wine. Strictly regulated trace quantities of sulphites are allowed to ensure stable wine storage.
Certification of organic vineyards to specific international standards can be obtained, which apply tight rules to both processes with respect to what materials and what quantities are permitted. Conversion from a conventional vineyard to a full organic one takes 3 years or more.