The issue is still being debated and still needs further clarification from TTB so that potential consumer confusion can be avoided. With respect to food it is a much simpler matter as well as with the natural food call out. The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) administers rules for the Natural Organic Program which on the onset is primarily for food and do not necessarily take into account wine issues and to make things more complex the final approval of wine labels is completed by the TTB.
TTB also has confusing labeling requirements for example. A wine that has a 100% organic ingredients and handling operators can utilize “100% Organic.” Wines that have an “Organic” label must have 95% of the ingredients are organic—but if the only wines a consumer ever saw said “Organic” might the consumer think it is a 100% organic–not knowing there is another category that might be more in line with their desired purchase? And bonafide organic wines have an option to utilize the USDA logo or not.
There are wine brands that do utilize the USDA organic logo for their bonafide organic wines—and it should be understood that these wines have a limited time to age—i.e. they cannot be expected to age as long as a wine with sulfites. Another interesting question is do consumer understand the need to open up these wines sooner? Many people still hold on to wines for far too long—even wines that do have sulfites and does the wine consumer hold their wines for the same time periods?
There are certifications for biodynamic and sustainably farmed wineries which may be in line with the objectives of the wine buying public in addition to the organic call outs. So looking at a label may or may not be enough… though most wine producers give a good snapshot of what their wines are on the back label panel. The best thing is to view the wine producers website where there is usually a lot of information on their wines.
In this era many wine consumers not only have a desire for organic wines and may have additional requirements—not just sustainable or biodynamic farming but also on aspects of reducing carbon foot print in production and reduced bottle weight. Some consumers are asking for vegan wines. These discussions are important and show how the consumer is weighing in on what they want from their wines and how many consumers are educating themselves on the wine they are drinking. I recommend going to your source –the winery where you are buying your wines or perspective wineries and many have excellent websites with a plethora of information. Don’t expect the organic label issue to go away or be resolved anytime soon. And thinking about the issues and connected with your wine brands and other news resources can help make your purchase an optimum one.
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