Organic wine is booming in Italy. In fact, the country is the world leader in terms of the percentage of surface area dedicated to organic wine grapes.\r\n\r\nAccording to Nomisma Wine Monitor, based on data supplied by industry sources (Sinab, Eurostat and Fibl) as of 2018, 16.6% of Italy\u2019s vineyards were organically cultivated, which accounted for 26% of the world\u2019s organically farmed vineyards. From 2013\u20132018, the country\u2019s organic vineyard area increased 57%, according to the report.\r\nOrganic Lowdown\r\nTo receive Europe\u2019s green organic wine logo, certified wineries must abide by a series of regulations that include a ban on synthetic chemicals in the vineyards and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Instead of herbicides, producers let grass grow between rows or mechanically turn the soil. They also use a copper-sulfur mix to fight fungal diseases.\r\n\r\nThough copper, a heavy metal that can harm the environment, has come under fire, some say such criticism is unfair when it comes to organic farming.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe rules governing organic viticulture stipulate lower amounts of copper than allowed in conventional viticulture, and most nonorganic producers use more copper than we do,\u201d says Silvano Brescianini of Franciacorta estate Barone Pizzini. \u201cAnd currently, there isn\u2019t an efficient organic alternative.\u201d\r\n\r\nA dispute between the United States and European Union over sulfites means organic wines imported here won\u2019t have the organic European seal. In the U.S., only wines with less than 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulfites that develop naturally during fermentation can be called organic. European standards allow up to 100 ppm for reds and 150 ppm for whites added as a preservative.\r\n\r\nAs a result, most organic European Union producers write \u201cmade with organic grapes\u201d on the back label.\r\nGoing Sustainable\r\nA growing number of Italian wineries claim to employ sustainable practices that safeguard the environment, lower their carbon and water footprints, and create good social and corporate practices. However, there are no international guidelines that define and regulate sustainability protocols in the wine business.\r\n\r\n\u201cEqualitas is working tirelessly with international institutions to create standards to officially define and regulate sustainability in the industry,\u201d says Michele Minelli, co-owner of Salcheto in Tuscany. It was among the first nine wineries to be certified sustainable in 2018 by Equalitas, a trade organization and certifying entity that has emerged as a pioneer in the sustainability movement.\r\n\r\nHere are top certified organic and sustainable estates to seek.\r\n\r\n\r\nBarone Pizzini \r\nFranciacorta\r\nFranciacorta, in Italy\u2019s Lombardy region, is noted for ageworthy, structured metodo classico sparklers made predominantly from Chardonnay and Pinot Nero. Barone Pizzini, whose vibrant, savory wines boast a classic combination of structure and elegance, was the first estate here to switch to organic viticulture in 1998.\r\n\r\nIn the mid-1990s, Silvano Brescianini, co-owner and managing director of Barone Pizzini, made the decision after he attended a seminar by a company selling agricultural products to combat fungal diseases.\r\n\r\n\u201cI was a restaurateur before managing the winery and wanted to learn everything I could about vine diseases and how to fight them,\u201d he says. \u201cI was horrified when a company representative pointed out that the product \u2018could be dangerous,\u2019 as it was a known carcinogen.\u201d Immediately, Brescianini began to phase out harsh chemicals.\r\n\r\nNow, almost 70% of the denomination\u2019s firms are certified organic or in the conversion process.\r\n\r\n\r\nBrezza \r\nBarolo\r\nSituated in the village of Barolo, Brezza makes classic wines from native grapes Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto. Founded in 1885, Brezza is one of the village\u2019s oldest firms. Enzo Brezza and his cousin, Giacomo, are the fourth generation to run the family firm.\r\n\r\nBrezza owns property in some of the village\u2019s most lauded vineyard sites, including the historical heart of Cannubi, Sarmassa and Castellero, turning out textbook Barolos that boast body and earthy elegance.\r\n\r\nThe firm has shunned chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides for years. Instead, it allows grass to grow between rows and turns the soil beneath the plants. Enzo also switched from tractors to four-wheeled quads, which are gentler on the Langhe\u2019s erosion-prone soil.\r\n\r\nThe vineyard was converted to organic farming in 2010, and it became certified in 2015. Enzo says he switched to organic for the health of both himself and his workers. The other goal was \u201cto keep the land in excellent health for future generations.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nFattoria La Rivolta \r\nCampania\r\nLocated in Torrecuso, in Campania\u2019s Benevento province, Fattoria La Rivolta makes stunning, savory wines with native grapes. The farm\u2019s hilly vineyards boast a winning combination of limestone and clay that lends structure, while the high altitudes keep grapes fresh.\r\n\r\nIts vibrant, savory whites, made with Greco, Falanghina, Coda di Volpe and Fiano, come from the Sannio denomination\u2019s Taburno subzone, as does the firm\u2019s red made with Piedirosso. The estate\u2019s structured, flagship red hails from Aglianico del Taburno, essentially the same area, but a separate denomination.\r\n\r\nFattoria La Rivolta was part of larger holdings owned by the Cotroneo family since the beginning of the 19th century. Paolo Cotroneo, joined by his sister, Gabriella, and cousin, Giancarlo, launched this family-run firm in 1997, and they switched over immediately to organic farming methods. Starting with the 2001 harvest after the mandatory conversion period, all the grapes produced on the estate\u2019s nearly 72 acres under vine are certified organic.\r\n\r\n\r\nTasca d\u2019Almerita\u00a0\r\n Sicily\r\nThe recipient of Wine Enthusiast\u2019s 2019 Wine Star Award for European Winery of the Year, Tasca d\u2019Almerita is owned by one of the oldest winemaking families in Sicily, as the Tascas acquired their lush Regaleali estate in 1830. Besides its elegant, terroir-driven wines, the producer helped spearhead the island\u2019s sustainability movement.\r\n\r\nTasca d\u2019Almerita\u2019s debut 1970 vintage of Rosso del Conte, made with Nero d\u2019Avola, Perricone and other native red grapes, was the first single-vineyard wine in Sicily. It was also one of the first wines destined for lengthy aging.\r\n\r\nIn the 2000s, the firm invested in wineries across varying areas of Sicily, like Sallier de La Tour and Tascante on Mount Etna, and Capofaro on Salina. It also vinifies Grillo grapes grown on the island of Mozia.\r\n\r\nToday, Alberto Tasca is the company\u2019s CEO, and his dedication to sustainability led to the creation of SOStain, an association of like-minded Sicilian producers. Launched in 2010, its certified members must meet 10 strict requirements that mandate that the impact of treatments on the environment, farmers and consumers are equal to or lower than equivalent practices used in organic farming.\r\n\r\n\r\nMaso Martis \r\nTrento\r\nFounded in 1990 by husband-and-wife team Antonio and Roberta Stelzer, Maso Martis makes radiant, pristine bottle-fermented metodo classico wines from Chardonnay and Pinot Nero. Located in Martignano, which sits at the foothill of Mount Calisio above the city of Trento in northern Italy, the winery bottles mineral-driven, elegant wines under the Trento DOC collective brand, like its vibrant, chiseled Dosaggio Zero Riserva.\r\n\r\nMaso Martis\u2019s high-altitude vineyards, 1,476 feet above sea level, impart finesse and freshness, while the marked day-night temperature changes encourage grapes to develop intense aromas and flavors. Mountain breezes also help to keep grapes healthy.\r\n\r\nOrganic farming was a no-brainer for Maso Martis, both to protect the environment and safeguard the health of the grapes. The firm became certified organic in 2013, and it also buys grapes exclusively from other small, organic farmers.\r\n\r\n\r\nMarangona\u00a0\r\n Lugana\r\nThe small Lugana denomination, on the shores of Lake Garda, turns out savory, structured whites made with native grape Turbiana. The area spans five towns across the Veneto and Lombardy regions: Peschiera del Garda in Veneto, and Desenzano, Sirmione, Pozzolengo and Lonato in Lombardy.\r\n\r\nLake Garda creates an unusually mild microclimate for northern Italy, but organic farming is a challenge due to its combination of clay soils and humidity. Of the denomination\u2019s 116 wineries, only eight are certified organic. One of them is Marangona.\r\n\r\n\u201cTurbiana has compact bunches and is susceptible to diseases like downy mildew and botrytis, so organic grape growing isn\u2019t easy, but it is possible,\u201d says Alessandro Cutolo, Marangona\u2019s owner and winemaker. He began to experiment with organic methods in 2012 and was encouraged when grape quality improved. The firm, which has many vines more than 35 years old, became certified in 2017. Marangona\u2019s range of delicious Luganas boast elegance, purity and depth.\r\n\r\n\r\nFontodi\u00a0\r\n Chianti Classico\r\nOne of Chianti Classico\u2019s most celebrated estates, Fontodi is located in the Conca d\u2019Oro valley just south of Panzano, in the heart of the denomination. There, intense sunlight, high altitudes and the unique combination of limestone soils (alberese) and flaky schist (galestro) provide ideal growing conditions for temperamental Sangiovese.\r\n\r\nRun by Giovanni Manetti, whose family purchased the property in 1968, the firm makes full-bodied reds that boast structure, finesse and longevity. Prime examples are its Chianti Classico Vigna del Sorbo Gran Selezione and Flaccianello della Pieve, a Colli della Toscana Centrale bottling.\r\n\r\nThe family has two main businesses, terracotta production and winemaking, which collide in Fontodi\u2019s balsamic, mineral-driven red, Dino, that\u2019s vinified in clay amphora.\r\n\r\nManetti, a believer in the greatness of Sangiovese and the Panzano growing zone, began to farm organically in 1990.\r\n\r\n\u201cBack then, organic farming was considered a hippie trend, so for years I didn\u2019t bother getting certified,\u201d says Manetti, who obtained organic certification in 2008.\r\n\r\n\r\nCol d\u2019Orcia \r\nBrunello di Montalcino\r\nThe third-largest Brunello house in acres under vine, Col d\u2019Orcia is one of Montalcino\u2019s storied producers and can trace its roots back to the early 20th century.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s situated below the hamlet of Sant\u2019Angelo in Colle and used to be part of a single estate, Fattoria di Sant\u2019Angelo. In 1958, the property was divided into two estates: Col d\u2019Orcia and Il Poggione. Fifteen years later, Count Alberto Marone Cinzano purchased Col d\u2019Orcia.\r\n\r\nRun today by Count Francesco Marone Cinzano, Col d\u2019Orcia is one of Montalcino\u2019s most innovative firms. It pioneered research into local grape Sangiovese and was among the first to understand the important role of the vineyards, demonstrated by its compelling, single-vineyard bottling Poggio al Vento. Starting with the 1982 vintage, the label is only made in exceptional vintages.\r\n\r\nNow the largest organic wine-producing farm in Tuscany, Col d\u2019Orcia was converted to organic agriculture methods in 2010. It became certified in 2013.\r\n\r\n\r\nSergio Mottura \r\nLazio\r\nSergio Mottura\u2019s 321-acre estate lies in Civitella d\u2019Agliano, in Lazio\u2019s Viterbo province. On the border with Umbria and located in the Orvieto denomination, the namesake winemaker turns out full-bodied whites made with the area\u2019s native grapes, namely Grechetto, but also Procanico, Verdello and Rupeccio. It also crafts bottlings made with international grapes. Grown in volcanic soils, the firm\u2019s savory, mineral- driven wines boast finesse and complexity.\r\n\r\nOne of the area\u2019s quality pioneers, Mottura helped put dry Orvieto on the map. His structured, savory, single-vineyard 100% Grechetto Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) wines, in particular his Latour a Civitella fermented in oak, have proven the impressive potential of this ancient variety.\r\n\r\nAt 21, Mottura took over the family farm in 1963, and he focused immediately on the area\u2019s traditional grapes. In the early 1990s, he switched to organic viticulture, and the estate became certified organic in 1995. \u201cAfter years of organic farming, the porcupines returned and are now the symbol of our estate,\u201d says his son, Sebastiano.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nSalcheto \r\nVino Nobile di Montepulciano\r\nLocated in Montepulciano in the Siena province, Salcheto was a pioneer in Sangiovese back when other estates planted international grapes to blend into Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. It has been a trailblazer in organic, sustainable and biodynamic farming and winemaking.\r\n\r\nLed by its founder and winemaker, Michele Manelli, the winery has long banned harsh chemicals in the vineyards and became certified organic in 2005. It also follows the principles of biodynamic viticulture.\r\n\r\nSalcheto\u2019s wines ferment with native yeasts, and Manelli never adds sulfites during fermentation. The firm\u2019s young and fruity Obvius line, which is USDA organic, doesn\u2019t have any added sulfites at all.\r\n\r\nFor Salcheto\u2019s elegantly structured, ageworthy Vino Nobiles, Manelli adds minimal sulfites after fermentation. He stays below the standards for organic viticulture while ensuring the wines avoid oxidized notes and are suitable for long aging.\r\n\r\nSince becoming organic, Salcheto has lowered its carbon and water footprints drastically, while maintaining biodiverse vineyards. It\u2019s now also certified sustainable by Equalitas.