“In terms of a chemistry solution, it’s like saying, ‘Your candy bar was made in a facility that also handled peanuts.’ There would be very low sub-concentrations of this stuff in there, if at all,” he says. “But if really what you’re thinking about is the philosophical viewpoint behind it, ‘I don’t want to be harming animals for the production of my food,’ then any of these things would be a no-no.”
Until labeling laws require ingredient lists for wine, though, it won’t become any easier to tell with a casual glance whether animals were harmed for a bottle. “Labeling laws are very different when applied to alcohol than to other foodstuffs,” Harbertson says. The Food Safety Modernization Act, passed in 2011, has heated up discussion of potential requirements, but as of 2018, there are no clear answers on whether that will actually be implemented.
Some wineries see the value in ingredient-labeling independent of any governmental regulation, such as Bonny Doon Vineyard, which has been operating since 1983 in Santa Cruz, California. Their wines are vegan, “not out of any particular ideological bent, apart from the fact that we prefer to make wines that are minimally manipulated,” owner Randall Grahm says.
“I felt that since I was committing to following what might be called an enologically and viticulturally virtuous path, I might as well advertise that fact on the label,” he says, regarding the inspiration for transparent labeling, which they began in 2007. Not only does this make it clear whether a wine is vegan, but it also doesn’t allow them to hide the use of added colors or sugars.
“The fact is that ingredient-labeling is a discipline that compels one to becoming a better, more careful winemaker,” Grahm says, “where you have to really consider more carefully the consequences of all of your actions.”