SOUTH AFRICA – Spier Wine Farm, producer of the Seeward and 21 Gables wines, has received the Control Union Vegan Standard certification, becoming the first winery in the world to receive the certification.

Control Union is an international certification and inspection company focused in developing services around the sustainability of the industry’s supply chains, with operations in over 70 countries.

Through the certification, Spier Seaward, Creative Block, 21 Gables and Frans K Smit ranges will all bear this vegan-friendly seal – from 2019 vintage onwards for white wines and the 2018 vintage onwards for reds.

“This vegan certification not only demonstrates our commitment to a greener, animal-friendly future; it also means that vegans can now enjoy our wines,” says Frans K. Smit, Spier’s Cellar Master.

“The certification of these four ranges is an important first step and represents a significant percentage of the wines we offer.

“This does not affect the taste of the wines in any way, and we intend to have the rest of our wines Vegan Standard-accredited in the coming years,” Frans said.

Veganism has become a major growing trend globally driven by various factors including; carbon footprint reduction, changing trends toward healthy diets and the prevention of animals’ exploitation.

“Trustworthiness and credibility of certain claims – vegan in this instance – through independent auditing and certification is of paramount importance,” explains Jordi Meijer, the Managing Director (South Africa) of Control Union,

“When they see the Control Union Vegan Standard seal, vegans can be confident that there are buying something that aligns with their ideals,” Jordi explains.

Vegan and Non-vegan wines

In most practices, animal-derived fining agents such as casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (animal protein) and isinglass (fish bladder protein) are used make wines clear and bright.

During the wine making process, harmless organic particles that make the wine cloudy (including protein and yeast molecules) become attached to the fining agent and sink, making it easy for them to be removed – and for the wine to become clear.

Because tiny traces of the fining agent may be absorbed into the wine, the wines that use animal-derived fining agents are not considered vegan.

Spier is using non-animal alternatives – such as activated charcoal, bentonite or clay-based fining agents to replace animal-derived fining agents.