EU corks organic wine plan

EU corks organic wine plan

EU member states have bungled an attempt to impose standards on the bloc's growing organic wine sector.

After years of wrangling and bluster, the European Commission quietly announced this week that it will not be proposing standards for organic winemaking in the EU.

Once again, potential progress has been dashed by disagreement between EU member states. 

The current rules in Europe are that grapes can be certified organic, but the winemaking process cannot because no standard exists.

There are many technical problems with setting rules for organic winemaking, particularly concerning the use of sulphites, which are used widely but, according to some, could render a wine unworthy of organic certification.

It is a shame for the industry that efforts to standardise this growing segment have come to nothing.

In France alone, organic vineyard area is increasing by up to 25% per year, according to Vinea Transacation, an international agency that represents 30 vineyard estate agents in several European countries.

There is the argument that consumers already believe wine to be a natural product, and so to define some bottles as organic may be counterproductive. This is a weak argument, working on the basis that the wine industry has to conceal details from consumers. Wine shoppers who care about such things are smarter than that.

If organic wine is to gain credibility with consumers and build on promising demand, there must be a watertight certification process, regardless of the difficulties in achieving it.