Updated: Mar 10, 2019
The Soil Association inspector called on his annual check last week, making sure that we stick to organic standards in every area. The visit takes about half a day, while he goes through the audit trail of all products purchased and used, and the farm diary of activities and sales. This is followed by a general discussion of organic practices. There's quite a bit of paperwork involved, and certification costs £500. But it's worth it to provide assurance to our customers.
The winery is certified separately: regular wine production can make use of 70 different chemicals. This is strictly controlled in organic wineries, with far fewer options available. For example, both organic and non-organic wines use sulphites to control fermentation, but the levels are far lower for organic wines. The actual amount will vary from year to year, according to the grapes.
Do you really want to know the detail? The maximum sulphite level in organic wine is set by the EU at 100 milligrammes per litre for red, and 150 milligrammes for white. This compares to maximums of 160 milligrammes per litre for red, and 210 milligrammes for white for non-organic wine. At Seddlescombe, where our wine is made, the maximum amounts are even lower than the organic limits: 13-42 milligrammes per litre for red, and 73-120 milligrammes for white.
They say low sulphite levels mean organic wine is less likely to give you a headache. And I always thought it depended on how much you drink!