Les Grappes magazine with le parisien
The magazine Les
Grappes & Le Parisien
Everything you always wanted to know about wine but never dared to ask

The generic term "organic" now includes many trends ranging from wines from conventional organic agriculture (AB), to so-called "natural" wines, wines without sulphites, vegan wines, and of course biodynamic wines.

Between 2007 and 2015, the number of certified organic vineyards increased from 14600 to 57600 hectares, to which must be added 11,000 hectares in conversion, or 8.7% of the French vineyard. 11 Over the same period, household consumption of organic wines increased by 41%12, partly bypassing traditional distribution channels.

An increase in consumption in France

In 2017, organic farming (AB) accounted for 10.8% of agricultural employment and 5.7% of the area used. 24% of organic farms are specialized in wine production. In addition, according to a study by the Agence Bio in 2016, wine represents the most important item in terms of value of household purchases of organic products (792 million), ahead of fresh vegetables (626 million) and milk (483 million).

As for the consumption of organic wines, it has also increased by nearly 20% each year since 2010, even though wine consumption in France has fallen in volume, mainly due to legislation and prevention campaigns against the dangers of alcohol.

If we look at the export figures, it appears that in 2018, organic wine represents 46% of exported wines. It can even be compared to all the other AB products sold abroad: two thirds of them are organic wines.

A distribution that is still very specialized

Even if the consumption of organic wines is increasing, it is still rather reserved for connoisseurs who know where to find the offer, since it is not yet very well represented in large distribution structures.

The major players in the market, particularly the supermarkets and the main wine store chains (Nicolas with 500 points of sale, Repaire de Bacchus, etc.) do not seem to be interested in the new trends that highlight environmental awareness. However, it should be noted that 77% of wine consumers buy their wine in supermarkets.

The only major player in this segment, with 31 points of sale including 25 in France, BiboVino, the bag-in-box specialist, sells wines all from sustainable agriculture, including a choice in organic and biodynamic farming. In the same vein, some online sales sites specialize in this segment, such as Vinscheznous.com, which only sells wine from organic, biodynamic or natural sources. In summary, it should be noted that the organic and more precisely biodynamic offer remains reserved for informed consumers who visit specialised wine merchants or buy directly from the estate.

The distribution chosen by the winegrowers: the Alsatian example

The fact that supermarkets do not yet promote new trends in organic and biodynamic wines is also partly due to a choice made by producers. This is what can be seen in Alsace, for example, among some winegrowers.

The sociological study on the coherence of professional behaviour among Alsatian organic winegrowers carried out by Jean Nizet, Denise Van Dam and Marcus Dejardin reveals that most Alsatian winegrowers prefer "not to use traders[...] and refuse to market their wines in supermarkets". This choice is justified on the one hand by the desire to limit intermediaries between producers and the final consumer and on the other hand to maintain a maximum margin on sales. This is what Les Grappes, for example, offers by allowing winegrowers to sell their wine directly to a whole community of individuals and professionals via an online platform.

Despite a very limited offer of organic and biodynamic wines in mass consumption channels, winegrowers are organising themselves differently to offer their product for sale. First of all, they do not fear a concentration of winegrowers in this category in the same region, but rather see it as an asset: "For me, the whole of Alsace can switch to organic farming. It doesn't bother me. On the contrary: I would even like that. Because you have a preserved environment; and also the economic aspect, you have a great brand image" (Source : Jean Nizet, La cohérence des comportements professionnels et privés chez les viticulteurs biologiques alsaciens, 2008).

Edouard Rapp

lesgrappes.com utilise des cookies
Learn more