Organic wine producers in California are protesting against changes in labelling legislation, being proposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), which they contend will discriminate unfairly against organic wines.

The principal complaint of the organic producers regards the possibility that their labels will have to bear a separate ingredients list. It is possible, for instance, that the organic wines will have to list the sulphites used in production twice, in order to meet both current wine regulations and to satisfy new standards for organic wines.

"The organic wine producers certainly don't want to have a lot of clutter on their labels," said Wine Institute spokeswoman, Gladys Horiuchi.

Sulphites are used in wine production to prevent oxidation and help to preserve wine. Wine producers can use sulphur dioxide and still label the wines "made with organic ingredients."

"Although I have no personal reservations with disclosing ingredients, I definitely do not think it should be done exclusively for wines made from organic grapes," said Brian Fitzpatrick, a wine producer from El Dorado County.

The California Wine Institute has persuaded the BATF to delay implementation for a further three months to allow time to solicit public opinion.