Sustainable Wine

So how can you find sustainable wine? Or what constitutes organic or biodynamic wine?

To start, here is a quick guide on what those terms mean on a wine label. I have tried to compile and synthesize the information I have found from various sources-definitely difficult to find one answer to what organic and/or biodynamic wine is. According to Organic Wine Journal:

  • Bottom line, organic wine is made from grapes that have been grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Winemaking techniques should be organic as possible with little or no manipulation of wines by reverse osmosis, excessive filtration or flavor additives.
  • When a label says “organic,” it means the wine has met certain standards that are set by a government agency. What’s deemed “organic” in one country may not be organic in another because different countries have different standards. In the United States, wines labeled “organic” cannot contain added sulfites. Wines that have added sulfites, but are otherwise organic, are labeled “wine made from organic grapes.”

Some additional terms and their meanings:

  • 100% Organic carries the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal (the certifying agency must be listed) and indicates the wine is made from 100% organically grown ingredients and has been monitored throughout its entire production process. This wine can contain only naturally occurring sulfites (or sulfur dioxide, an antimicrobial substance) in less than 100 parts per million (ppm).
  • Organic also carries the USDA organic seal and indicates the wine has 95% organically grown ingredients (the other 5% must not be available organically). Again the certifying agency must be listed and the wine has the same sulfite requirements as 100% organic.
  • Made with Organic Grapes or Made with Organic Ingredients means the wine contains at least 70% organic ingredients. It can have artificial sulfites added, but it may not contain more than 100 ppm. (It does not have the USDA organic seal.)
  • Biodynamic is based on the precise observation and an attempt at balance of nature, a concept originated by the early 20th-century Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. So, biodynamic wine is not only 100% organic, in addition, the grower has gone beyond to try to bring the farming process more closely in tune with nature. For instance, biodynamic wine growers may make their own compost and/or watch the stars and planets to time what they do.

In addition, here are a few links to sites that list biodyamic and/or organic wine. Not all-inclusive, but it’s a start. My site will be updated with some more information as well – not only about wine, but also craft beer, organic food and green living.  Stay tuned!

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