Organic, Sustainable, Vegan and Heroic? What do we intend by these terms?

Feb 14, 2023Daniele Borgogno
Caveau Enoteca Vinai del Borgo

In the past, the only distinctions were between red, white and rosé wine. The variety of definitions and distinctions in the world of wine today can be confusing, especially to non-experts.

We have tried to clarify what is meant by also giving a definition of our wines on our site.


To produce a vegan friendly wine, the producer must avoid the use of any ingredients of animal origin during the production process. This includes using fish gelatine or egg albumin for wine clarification.
Instead, producers use alternatives such as bentonite clay, a natural clay that helps clarify wine, or activated charcoal to remove impurities. Other methods include using membrane filters or centrifuges to remove suspended particles. Fortunately for vegan consumers, most of the wine production takes place without the use of animal-derived materials. A producer can choose whether to certify it through a certifying body and then a vegan wine is produced or he can declare it and then we usually speak of Vegan friendly.


A wine is organic when it is certified and the regulations are clear and expressed by the European regulation. Mainly it must be displayed on the label with the Eu logo and the code of the competent certifying body, furthermore the entire wine must be obtained from organically grown grapes (with any restrictions on the use of additives in the vineyard). There are also limitations in cellar practices, with a lowering of the sulfur dioxide thresholds compared to conventional wines (with the possibility of derogations in particular situations) and in practices such as heat treatments above 70°C and filtrations below 2 microns. Therefore, products of biological origin are used in each agricultural and subsequent production phase (including yeasts, jellies and musts).


Sustainability has become a central theme in wine production, where attention to environmental impact and consumer health is becoming increasingly important. In Italy and in the world, definitions are also beginning to be given with the new certifications such as Equalitas and VIVA, but SQNPI, the National Quality System for Integrated Production, are also part of this circle. More and more attention is also given to the CO2 footprint, water consumption and waste production, crop production, and above all even now of the whole supply chain which, to be sustainable, should be as short as possible. It is a broad discourse but the producers are committed to limiting their impact on the environment but also on society and the local or global economy. In this context, everyone can participate in a positive way, perhaps by choosing wines produced by cooperatives of virtuous farmers or certified companies or not and avoiding "first price" bottlers. To be sustainable, the remuneration of farmers must also be appropriate, a sustainable wine cannot be obtained if the price of the grapes does not allow to sustain one's business. There is still much work to be done in this area. We should look critically at the examples of large bottling companies which, despite their sustainability certifications, offer wines at bargain prices, damaging the entire market. Furthermore, some foreign markets promote the use of plastic and PET packaging to reduce CO2 emissions, without considering the possible damage to health and/or the environment. We must also include companies in this category which, although not certified, are nonetheless pursuing sustainable paths. Certifications are important, but common sense should also be used.

Recognized quality cooperative

The world of wine cooperatives in Italy produce a good part of the wine and in terms of quality they have made great strides in terms of quality and now also in terms of sustainability. By choosing the wine of a cooperative it is also possible to obtain a better price level thanks to their possibility of not creating a real profit but of remunerating the farmer member as much as possible. Investments in the cellars in terms of technologies and "quality projects" as well as "country diaries" of the members are bearing the hoped-for results and are now the backbone of Made in Italy wine exports. Quality at the right price is increasingly appreciated and is the main characteristic of our wines abroad. We have included in this category the most historic and renowned cooperatives in Italy that have invested in quality as well as companies that have distinguished themselves and obtained awards at national and international levels.

Wine craftsman

We have included in this category wineries, with short or very short supply chains with limited production in terms of quantity. In our opinion, these companies stand out in terms of absolute quality, and therefore can boast the title of "Artigiano del Vino". They are very often family-run companies from the vineyard to the cellar and therefore have complete control of the supply chain.

Heroic Viticulture

Heroic viticulture is a type of agriculture that requires a considerable effort on the part of farmers and the plants themselves, as it is practiced in areas that are difficult to manage due to the particular environmental conditions. In Italy, heroic viticulture is practiced in various mountain areas and on some islands, where the vineyards are located on terraces or steps, or have a minimum slope of 30% or an altitude of more than 500 meters above sea level. Obviously the wines in these areas are slightly more expensive because there are many more hours of work in the vineyard than in areas where agriculture is more mechanized.
In conclusion, heroic viticulture represents an important challenge for farmers, but it is also a way to enhance the mountain areas and the Italian islands, through the production of high quality wines and the protection of the territories and the landscape.

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