Organic and other wine styles

Organic Wines

Certified organic wineries use 100% grapes grown without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers. Instead, they fertilize with compost, compost teas, green manure, and cover crops. Winemaking techniques should be organic as well; little or no manipulation of wines by reverse osmosis, excessive filtration, or flavour additives (such as oak chips). Many wineries that are technically organic choose not to be certified. There are many reasons for this. Some do not want the added costs and bureaucracy of registering. Whatever the case, they are not allowed to use “organic” on their labels.

Organic Winery

Organic wineries are generally certified by a third party to ensure 100% of the wines have been made adhering to Canadian government Organic standards in both the grape growing and winemaking process. Grapes are grown without any chemical based herbicides, fungicides or pesticides and the use of chemical or synthetic based products cannot be used when making the wines.

Below are Ontario VQA wineries selling organic wines

Biodynamic Wines

Biodynamic wines are generally certified through the Demeter Farm Standard and go hand in hand with organic farming principals. The farm standard reflects the biodynamic principle of the farm as a living organism: self-contained, self-sustaining, following the cycles of nature. It is a regenerative organic farming system that focuses on soil health, the integration of plants and animals, and biodiversity. In practice, biodynamic farming meets the organic standard including the prohibition of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, but goes much further. The integration of animals and animal feeds, perennial plants, flowers and trees, water features, and composting is emphasized.

Below are Ontario VQA wineries selling biodynamic wines

Sustainable Winemaking Ontario Wineries

The Wine Council of Ontario (WCO), together with the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO), created the Sustainable Winemaking Ontario program for Ontario’s grape and wine industry to identify the vineyards and wineries that are environmentally friendly. The WCO and GGO researched similar international programs, adopted many of the same “check points” and created a winery and vineyard evaluation. This in-depth survey for winemakers and grape growers is a voluntary program to record sustainable practices that will be verifiable through an independent audit. Incorporating grape growing sustainability with sustainable practices in winery production will result in certified Ontario VQA wines to market to environmentally-conscious consumers.

Below are Ontario VQA wineries using sustainable winemaking practices

Lake Erie North Shore

Niagara Escarpment


Gluten-free Wines

Because it is made from grapes and not wheat the majority of wines are gluten-free. But there are a couple of points in the winemaking process that wine could come in contact with a small amount of gluten. Some oak-barrel makers use a flour-based paste to seal barrels. As well, gluten can be used in the fining process, but this is rare. Some wines that have added flavours may use gluten as part of the process. It is wise to steer clear of flavoured wines, for example, dessert wines, which are not labeled as gluten free.

Below are Ontario VQA wineries selling gluten-free wines

Vegan Wines

The majority of wines today are made using animal-derived products during the fining process to remove tiny molecules such as proteins, tartrates, tannins and phenolics and other organic particles. These are all natural, and in no way harmful. But there are several common fining agents that are animal-friendly and used to make vegan wine. Carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, plant casein, silica gel, and vegetable plaques are all suitable alternatives. More and more wines are clearly marked vegan-friendly.


Below are Ontario VQA wineries selling vegan-friendly wines

Vegetarian Wines

Animal derived ingredients are often used in the processing of wines to improve the appearance of the finished wine. Non-animal alternatives do exist and methods such as centrifuging and filtering are becoming more popular. A large number of organic wines do not use animal derived finings but it is always worth seeking clarification if unsure.

Below are Ontario VQA wineries selling vegetarian-friendly wines


Kosher wine is prepared according to the laws in Judaism. By Jewish law there are specific guidelines that must be meticulously adhered to in every step in the production of wine, from the treatment in the vineyard, harvest, grapes, and for the production of wine in the winery itself. In order for a wine to be deemed kosher, it must be made under the supervision of a rabbi. The wine must contain only kosher ingredients (including yeast and fining agents), and it must be processed using equipment rabbinically certified to make kosher wines. No preservatives or artificial colors may be added. The wine can only be handled — from vineyard to glass — by Sabbath-observant Jews.

Below are Ontario VQA wineries selling kosher wines


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