FACTS Organic Wines

Here are some “dry” Facts – o.k. some “wet” facts Organic Wines.

A more recent history of organic wine and the labeling of organic wine dates back to 1990 when congress passed the National Organic Foods Act.

Here the story:

The goal of the Organic Foods Act was to protect producers, handlers, processors, retailers, and consumers of organic food by assuming that foods labeled as organic were in fact organic.

The Organic Foods Act put the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in charge of establishing regulations for organic foods and food products.

They in turn established the National Organics Standards Board (NOSB) to advise them.

Since fermented beverages were included in the Organic Foods Act, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) which regulates wine labeling also became involved.

FACTS Organic Wines

The ATF said they would allow organic claims on the label if the claims were documented by an accredited or recognized certifying agency and that the certification had to be submitted for approval with applications for label approval.

The ATF did not allow finished products (i.e. wines) to be designated as organic.

This changed when Hallcrest Vineyards and the Organic Wine Works challenged the ATF and became the first exception based on an inspection of raw materials, production methods, and records by The California Department of Health Services, Food and Drug Branch. Since then, only a few wineries have followed the same course and become certified processors of organic wines.

Along came the National Organic Program (NOP), also part of the USDA. The NOP’s goal has been to set guidelines for the processing and labeling of organic products and to maintain the “National List” of allowed and prohibited substances.

According to the NOP and the ATF who have stated that all label approvals filed with them must comply with the USDA relating to the NOP, there are four categories that organic wines can claim: 100% Organic, Organic, Made with Organic Ingredients, and Some Organic Ingredients. See Organic Wine for more Information.

These standards are being monitored and regulated by the individual certifying agencies who are in turn being monitored and regulated by the USDA so be careful and make sure you trust the certifying agency that the label identifies.

(Excerpt from Organic Consumers Association (OCA))

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