Traditionally winemakers used to clarify their wines with fining agents made from animals – gelatine, milk-based products, egg white and products made from fish. Many supermarket wines are still fined in this way. Today bentonite is a widely used alternative – a product based on clay.
Winemakers can also use a number of animal based products to grow their vines. In particular fertilizers, even organic ones, can be made from bone or fishmeal. Most vegans would say that using anything that comes from a dead animal is not acceptable, but that it is OK to use animal manure.
The wines that we define as vegan have not had any animal based product used for clarification. Nor has any product derived from animals been used during vinification or bottling. We have also excluded wines made from grapes grown using organic fertilizer made from animal products - although all the UK's major supermarkets would allow this . (There is no official definition or certification of vegan in the UK or Europe - it is purely a voluntary code)
Where we define a wine as vegan I have personally asked the winemaker/grower about the way the wine is made. This works well when we work with small growers. Unfortunately in Bordeaux where we work with a negotiant I have been unable to do this. Hence we do not describe any of our Bordeaux as vegan, although some of them undoubtedly are.
The vegan society definition of vegan
"A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."