Our white wines are vegetarian and vegan friendly. Our reds may be suitable for vegetarians but may not be suitable for vegans – (depending on your interpretation which may differ slightly from the strict definition of either) – please see detail below to decide for yourself whether you are comfortable.
When fining wines to remove harsh tannins, there is a chemical process used. Positively charged additives react with negatively charged particles in the wine and vice versa. Historically, this is how wines were also clarified as the compounds combine and precipitate, leaving the wine cleaner than before fining. The proteins in the wine are positively charged, so to remove them, we add a clay called bentonite. This is negatively charged and combines with the proteins and the combination precipitates. This process uses inorganic clay and doesn’t affect the wines vegetarian or vegan status. We use this process for white and rose’ wines but not for red wines.
With regard to white wines, historically all sorts of fining agents were used to remove tannins and polyphenols which are negatively charged. To remove them, we have added positively charged proteins (amino acids which are by definition of an acid, are positively charged).
In the past we have used milk protein. However, we have stopped this. Today we only PVPP. (Please see definition from Wikipedia below.) In the last paragraph, they mention the use in winemaking and that it replaces a protein in the process. PVPP is a manufactured polymer with the appearance of a white powder. Hence, this makes our white and rose’ wines vegetarian and vegan friendly.
Polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (polyvinyl polypyrrolidone, PVPP, crospovidone, crospolividone or E1202) is a highly cross-linked modification of polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP).
The cross-linked form of PVP is used as a disintegrant (see also excipients) in pharmaceutical tablets. PVPP is a highly cross-linked version of PVP, making it insoluble in water, though it still absorbs water and swells very rapidly generating a swelling force. This property makes it useful as a disintegrant in tablets.
PVPP can be used as a drug, taken as a tablet or suspension to absorb compounds (so-called endotoxins) that cause diarrhoea. (Cf. bone char, charcoal.)
It is also used as a fining to extract impurities (via agglomeration followed by filtration). It is used in winemaking. Using the same principle it is used to remove polyphenols in beer production and thus clear beers with stable foam are produced. One such commercial product is called Polyclar. PVPP forms bonds similar to peptidic bonds in protein (especially, like proline residues) and that is why it can precipitate tanninsthe same way as proteins do.
For the fining of red wines, we only use gelatine. Gelatine is derived from animal derived protein sources. It is the same stuff you add to jelly to make it set. The gelatine is positively charged and reacts with the negatively charged tannins and they precipitate, making the wine softer on the palate. You do the same thing when you add milk to tea or coffee. The protein in the milk (casein) reacts with the tannins in the tea and coffee and the resulting drink is less bitter and astringent.
This is where it becomes interesting and a little grey. We add the gelatine to the wine, but it all reacts and precipitates. The wine is then filtered and the resulting wine has no gelatine in it. There have been extensive experiments carried out by the Australian Wine Research Institute which prove this. So from a vegetarians perspective, if they don’t want to ingest any animal products, it would be ok to drink the wine. If you object to the use of any animal product from any source whatsoever, then the red wine wouldn’t be suitable for you.