The most important characteristics of organic agriculture include the prohibitive use of easily soluble mineral fertilizers and herbicides; a conscious cultivation of the vineyard, to naturally promote the health and fertility of the soil, and a respect for its natural cycle.
Organic viticulture differs from integrated production in that chemical/synthetic nitrogen- based fertilisers, freely soluble phosphorus fertilisers and chemical/ synthetic pesticides may not be used, and no chemical herbicides may be employed in soil management. For crop protection it is preferred to use crop-care treatments and crop-fortifying treatments (Pflanzenstärkungsmittel1), but there are also crop-protection applications permitted specifically in biological viticulture. Out of these, copper- and sulphur-based preparations have the greatest relevance in combating peronospora and oidium.
Wine production is governed by the Austrian Wine Law, and applicable products are listed in the Codex as permissible for the processing of organically produced grapes.
The use of cultured yeast is permitted. As of the 2012 harvest, reduced SO2 contents have been established for wines produced by organic viticulture. Products made using this method of viticulture are designated as ‘wine made from grapes produced via organic and biological viticulture’, since the regulations apply only to the production of grapes. As of the 2012 harvest, the descriptions BIO-Wein or Öko-Wein are permitted. Use of the EU BIO-logo with the code number of the certification authority is compulsory.
Monitoring and examination by one of the official inspection bodies in Austria guarantees that production has complied with the guidelines of EU statutes and those of the Bio-organisations.
Owing to the ban on herbicides and certain pesticides, the application of crop care treatments and mechanical loosening of the soil in the stake row necessitate an increased investment of time and money in cultivation and crop protection. With this, however, an essential contribution to enhancing the biodiversity in the ecological system of a vineyard will be achieved.
1Pflanzenstärkungsmittel – crop-fortifying treatments – are applications designed exclusively to enhance the resistance of plants against harmful organisms, and to protect plants from damage due to non-parasitic causes. This means that the application must have no direct protective effect against disease or pests. Should these conditions prevail, the use of a regulated crop-protection treatment is indicated. The great majority of crop-fortifying treatments are of natural origin, rather than being chemical or synthetic products. Evidence of a treatment’s effectiveness is not demanded by law.