Organic viticulture worldwide

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

In 1999, 0.5–0.75% of the world vineyard was certified organic or biodynamic or in conversion, the majority of which comprised small, heritage organic estates prioritizing local rather than international markets. As more blue-chip estates in France, notably in the Loire, Alsace, and Burgundy, began converting to organics and biodynamics in the 1990s, conventional wine’s potentially negative impact locally and on the wider environment started to be questioned. In California, organic/biodynamic pioneer Jimmy Fetzer’s creation of a Mediterranean-style vine garden melding wine-growing with vegetables, olives, fruit, and both fluffy and feathered livestock, helped redefine organic wine as a colourfully positive lifestyle choice, finally providing the movement with sex appeal to go with its gravitas. By the end of the 2000s, Mediterranean France’s Roussillon, Rhône, and Provence vineyards had become the global organic hotbeds, helped by a beneficial climate and a slew of second-careerists snapping up competitively-priced de facto organic old-vine vineyards, often from retiring or bankrupt co-operative growers. France’s certified organic vineyard tripled in size between 2007 and 2011, and organic viticulture’s share of the global vineyard went from under 2% to over 5% between 2007 and 2013, around two-thirds of which was in Europe. Austria’s position as the world’s wine-growing nation with the highest proportion of organic vineyards is due in large part to its pre-emptive investment in educating potential consumers about organics, thereby creating a ready market for organic food and wine.