Currently, wine made with organically grown grapes, but with the addition of sulfur dioxide (synthetic sulfites), may be labeled "made with organic grapes," but cannot be labeled "organic" wine. Only wine made with organic grapes and naturally occuring sulfites can be labeled organic.
In April 2010, a group of winemakers petitioned the NOSB to allow wine with "minimal amounts of sulfur dioxide added" (below 100 ppm) to be labeled organic. Sulfur dioxide is on the National List specifically for wine production with the caveat, "for use only in wine labeled 'made with organic grapes,' provided, that total sulfite concentration does not exceed 100 ppm." The petitioners would like the annotation removed from its inclusion on the National List. Opponents argue that allowing the organic seal on wine containing synthetic sulfites would be misleading to consumers.
Natural sulfites occur in all wines, usually at low levels. Additional sulfites are often introduced to arrest fermentation at a desired time, and may also be added to wine as preservatives to prevent spoilage and oxidation at several stages of the winemaking. Sulfur dioxide is often added to protect wine from oxidation and bacteria. Sulfites cause a poisoning reaction, commonly misunderstood as an allergy, in susceptible individuals.
Read the Petition to Allow Wine with Sulfur Dioxide Added to be Labeled as "Organic" (April 1, 2010)