In reflection of Earth Day 2021, we decided this weeks post would be dedicated to learning more about sustainable wine production. When we refer to wine sustainability we are talking about wine production and vineyard practices that are ecological, economical and socially responsible. There are various sustainable farm certifications including organic and biodynamic or farmers do not have to be certified but perhaps have developed sustainable practices over time. Sustainability also encompasses other factors such as energy use, water conservations and the use of renewable resources. There are no clear definitions or standards for sustainable wine, but there are three classifications that sustainable wine can fall under. A wine could be one or all three of these classifications.
These classifications are:
Organic: The grapes are certified organic which means only organic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers can be used on the crop. This eliminates the use of a lot of harmful chemicals but does not mean that no mitigation methods were used, it only means those methods were "certified organic." Certified organic wine does not contain additives, such as preservatives.
Organically Farmed: These are grapes that are grown using organic practices but have not been officially certified. So for example it takes a couple of years to clean the soil if non-organic pesticides etc.were used but a farmer could start using organic practices but wait to obtain an organic certification.
Biodynamic: Is a certified organic wine but is produced in harmony with astrological cycles and takes into account the whole ecosystem of the farm. The soil and crops are grown in such a way to build or replace nutrients that are leached from the soil during the growing period. May sound a bit batty but the proof is in the glass so to speak.
Natural: Natural wines also have no formal definition or certification but refer to the treatment of the grapes once they are transferred from the field to the cellar or production facility. Natural wines ensure processes like the rectification of sugars or acids and the addition of yeasts are not followed.
If you fancy yourself a true wine snob, I bet that you typically choose sustainable wines because those wines are typically produced by small producers instead of mass made wines. The wine bottles on average start at around $9 instead of $5 but it is interesting to know that around 20% of the profit will actually go back to the farmer whereas mass made wines typically give around 3% back to the farmers.