US wine industry leaders have taken steps to counter what they see as a US government led attack on the organic wine industry. Growers, producers and importers have formed a lobby group called Organic Wine Industry (OWI) to challenge a ruling by the USDA that will eliminate the use of the term “organically grown grapes” from wine labels.The ruling, which has come as a surprise to the industry, will apply to all wines whether they are grown at certified organic vineyards or not. Only those producers not adding sulphur dioxide to their wines will be allowed to use the term “organic” and the terminology “organically grown grapes” will be eliminated by the recent ruling.The OWI has pointed out that the USDA has failed to heed the advice of the National Organic Standards Board, the group appointed by the USDA to advise to such issues. Furthermore it has failed also to understand the importance of sulphur dioxide in the production of quality wines, said the OWI.One organic grower said: “If the use of sulphur dioxide is forbidden in organic wine production, the demand for certified organically grown grapes will be drastically diminished, if not totally eliminated. This will nullify the incentive and long term commitment for growers to pursue sustainable growing practices that protect the environment and contribute to high quality, shelf-stable wines.”

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