Organic wine is expected to double its market share in the UK by 2022, according to a study by the Institute of Wine & Spirit Research (IWSR).
The study, commissioned by the French organic viticulture association SudVinBio, showed that organic wine sales increased by an impressive 70% over the period from 2012 to 2015, up from 3.36 million 9l cases to 5.72 million and averaging 11% annual growth.
‘There is a big margin for organic wine to keep rising,’ said IWSR research director Jose Luis Hermoso. ‘This is good news at a time when global wine consumption is stagnating, even declining.’
The findings were supported by a recent report from British wine distributor Jascots, which said that in the months between May and October 2018 sales of its organic wines grew by 132% on a like-for-like basis.
‘More and more top growers are farming organically and biodynamically and it is the quality of their wines that is driving sales forward,’ said Jascots managing partner Miles MacInnes.
The IWSR reported that consumers are willing to pay an average of 38% more for a bottle of organic wine, as it is perceived to offer greater health benefits than its non-organic counterparts. The success of organic wine is also being bolstered by overall growth of the organic produce sector, where sales increased by 6.5% last year.
A copper spanner in the works
Organic wine producers fear that the predicted growth of the category could be hampered by recent EU legislation. Copper sprays have long been used by organic vine growers, who are not allowed to employ conventional chemical fungicides to fight grape diseases. Currently there is no substitute available for organic wine growing.
The European Food Safety Authority has limited the amount of copper fungicides that can be used in vineyards, with plans to eventually ban its use for good. The decision was reached after copper compounds were found to be ‘of particular concern to public health or the environment’.
To overcome the issue, scientists have been developing disease-resistant grapes that do not require treatments and some countries are already investing in these varieties to foster sustainable and organic grape growing.