VINNATUR is Italy’s largest collective of natural winemakers with, in 2017, nearly 200 members coming from 9 European countries. It was founded in 2006 by Angiolino Maule of the Veneto-based La Biancara winery. VinNatur aims to further the cause of natural wine in both Italy and further afield.
NON-PROFIT | VINNATUR is a not-for-profit association led by winemakers with the emphasis firmly on research and education, for example working with oenologists to understand how best to manage problems that can occur during ‘wild’ or spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts. VinNatur started research with botanists, agronomists and entomologists from the Universities of Trieste, Udine and Firenze to reduce the dependency on copper- and sulfur-based vineyard treatments. VinNatur sees itself as an association of natural winemakers who work with the scientific community, not against it.
THIRD-PARTY CERTIFICATION | In 2016, VinNatur implemented a charter to outline what the term “natural wine” means. This was approved by the member wineries and is now (2018) being overseen and controlled by external certifying bodies. An independent body, Enocentro in Verona, checks VinNatur wines for the presence of pesticides. Note that this type of private certification differs from organic or Biodynamic certification which is regulated by government-appointed bodies either nationally (USA, Canada, New Zealand) or pan-nationally (European Union).
VINEYARD PRACTICES WHICH ARE PERMITTED
- organic fertilization (composted animal manure, vegetal waste)
- “green” fertilization (“green” manure or cover crops)
- native grassing
- oxygenation and autumn working of the soil in order to improve its permeability and structure
- management of the grass between vines with mechanical means (mower or production)
- use of sulfur-based products to combat powdery mildew (oidium) limited to a maximum of 60 kg/ha of powdered sulfur per year
- the use of copper-based products to combat downy mildew (peronospera) and dead-arm (limited to a maximum of 3 kg/ha of metal copper per year) with the aim of reducing them. The maximum limit is calculated on the average of metal copper used over the last three years.
- the use of naturally derived products, enhancers of plant defences, with zero waste, for example vegetable extracts, algae, propolis, fungi or antagonist micro-organisms that reduce the use of copper- and sulfur-based products, until the latter can be totally eliminated in favourable conditions
- drip irrigation (but only to keep vines alive, not too boost yields)
- manual harvesting, hand picking
VINEYARD PRACTICES WHICH ARE NOT PERMITTED
- mineral, organic-mineral and chemical synthetic fertilizers
- chemical weed-killers or drying processes
- the use of anti-parasites of synthetic, systemic and cytropic origin, not permitted with organic farming
- use of phosphites (phosphates)
- use of chemical insecticides
- mechanical harvesting (machine picking)
- growth of Cisgenic and GMO grapes, or the use of GMO derived products.
- flood irrigation
WINEMAKING PRACTICES WHICH ARE PERMITTED
- spontaneous fermentation with the exclusive use of indigenous yeasts, meaning those already present in the grapes and the vinification environments
- possibility of modifying the temperature of the must or the wine in order to guarantee that fermentation is carried out correctly
- the only additive/ingredient permitted is sulphur dioxide (either pure or as sodium metabisulphite). Bottled wine must have no more than 50 mg/litre of sulphur dioxide if white, sparkling and sweet, and no more than 30 mg/litre if red or rosé. The commitment towards reducing the use of sulfur dioxide must be constant, until it is used no more
- The use of air and oxygen to oxygenate must or wine
- The use of carbon dioxide, azote or argon, exclusively to keep the wine protected from air and to saturate possible containers or equipment
- Filtration using inert means having pores of no less than 5 micrometres (microns) for white and rosé wine, and 10 micrometres (microns) for red wine
WINEMAKING PRACTICES WHICH ARE NOT PERMITTED
- Clarification using pectic enzymes or products based on albumin, casein, bentonite or charcoal
- The use of selected commercial yeasts (even if permitted by EU regulations with organic wine), enzymes, lysozymes and lactic acid bacteria
- The use of any foreign additive excluding sulfur dioxide, within the limits given in the paragraph above
- invasive practices that alter the intrinsic characteristics of the wine and that modify the vinification processes, for example: dealcoholisation, heat treatment above 30°C, concentration through reverse osmosis, acidification or deacidification, electrodialysis and the use of cation exchangers, the elimination of sulphur dioxide using physical procedures, micro filtration.
To ensure associates respect the production guidelines, VinNatur has drafted a Check Plan, which will be applied by a certification institute recognised by MIPAAF – Ministero delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali (Ministry for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies) with which a collaboration will be started.
IDENTIFICATION & LABELLING
VinNatur says the main objective of its procedural guidelines for production is to communicate clearly and transparently what is done in the vineyards and wineries to anyone purchasing a bottle of VinNatur natural wine. To reach this objective, the production regulations that all VinNatur associates respect should be represented by a simple and recognisable symbol. Associate producers can, if they so wish, place the following indications on all the labels of wine they produce:
- total quantity of sulphur dioxide at the moment of bottling expressed in mg/litre, determined from the official analysis for export (obtained with the distillation method) or, alternatively, from the official analysis for approval of the DOC or DOCG wine
- the approved Association symbol
The Associazione VinNatur specifies that winemakers who do not, or cannot, support the commitments and respect the regulations in these procedural guidelines cannot be associates. “Being producers of VinNatur natural wine is a choice, not an obligation,” the organization says.