Swiss wines: organic labels
All aspects of viticulture and wine making are governed by international, national, and regional laws. Labels are a guarantee of quality for consumers and are awarded to wineries or wines that meet the requirements of strict specifications, controlled by an independent body. In Switzerland, there are three main organic labels: Vinatura, Bio Suisse and Demeter.
More than 30 years ago Switzerland started with integrated production, or IP-Suisse, which makes Swiss winemakers somewhat pioneers in using an approach with respect to nature. Organic production has grown spectacularly in Switzerland over the past ten years, from 555 hectares of vines in 2013 to 2’244 hectares in 2021, which is 16.6% of the Swiss wine-growing area. The trend continues. For the consumer, the choice of organic wines is wide thanks to all these different approaches.
Some producers follow the federal organic standards, which are largely based on European regulations.
Created in 1981, the bud label is probably the best known of the organic labels in the wine industry. The Bio Suisse bud label goes beyond the European regulations for organic production. The entire estate must be cultivated organically. To promote biodiversity, 7% of the estate's land must be pasture, dry stone walls, hedges or trees. To protect the vines against diseases and pests, the Bio Suisse certified winegrowers use plant and mineral preparations and promote populations of beneficial insects. The soils retain their character and fertility because they do not use synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers. In the cellars, the winegrowers are allowed three times less additives or treatments than their European organic colleagues. Only a few rare natural additives are explicitly allowed in the winemaking process.
Authorized by Bio Suisse, the winegrowers certified with this label give priority to the natural characteristics that make a wine authentic. More than five hundred Swiss wineries carry this label.
Demeter is the label for wine from biodynamic cultivation certified according to Demeter guidelines. Biodynamic cultivation strengthens the soil, plants, animals and people. In addition to organic production and the promotion of ecological diversity in the vineyard, biodynamic producers use biodynamic preparations that vitalize the life of the soil and strengthen the vines. There are very few corrective measures possible in the cellar. This is why the quality of the grapes and the meticulous work in the vineyard and in the cellar are of great importance. About sixty wineries throughout Switzerland are certified with this label.
In addition to these two we also have the labels Vinatura and Vin Nature. The Vinatura label from Vitiswiss was created in 1993 and provides a framework for integrated viticulture practices.
Finally, the new label Vin Nature has been created which includes the production of wines which follow one of the above labels, but the wines must additionally fulfill the following criteria: "be vinified and bottled without any input, nor additive, nor filtration, nor sulfur". They therefore contain only natural sulfites produced by the fermentation yeasts.
In addition to all these labels the new disease-resistant grape varieties, which require little or no treatment, are becoming increasingly attractive to winegrowers, who have already planted the equivalent of 2.5% of the vineyard.