We are fortunate to live in a society with an abundance of resources and information to improve the lifestyle choices we make every day, both to protect our bodies as well as to protect the environment. It only makes sense that we would want to apply the same principles to what we drink as well.
When it comes to the products you consume, the choices you make are most often based on a combination of your personal beliefs and your specific dietary needs, so being informed is the best way to make the right decision for your lifestyle.
First of all, the term “organic” is extremely broad and navigating the labels of wines that purport to be eco-friendly can be confusing: “100-percent organic,” “certified organic,” “made with organic ingredients,” or “natural.”
To further complicate matters, different countries have their own definition of what it means to be “organic” and their own regulations when it comes to classifying the wine they produce. Without a global set of rules, it is most important to identify the specific characteristics that are important to you and to learn how to recognize when a product does (or does not) meet your needs.
On its most basic level, organic wines are produced with organically grown grapes. Any vineyard growing in this manor would adhere to a specific practice and set of standards, including the soil they use and the way they maintain their vines. But what about the rest of the winemaking process?
Once the grapes are picked, there are a variety of methods a winemaker can use to produce an end result. Considerations are made such as additives chosen to enhance flavor, materials used to store the wine throughout the process, and the preferred bottling method with regards to preservation and shelf life.
Despite the many variables involved in the winemaking process, there are three prevalent ways to classify wine based on its production method:
Wine produced using grapes that have been grown using organic methods. The vineyards producing these grapes must avoid using synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
American vineyards are regulated by the USDA and any product labeled 100% or certified organic must contain 100% organically produced ingredients and cannot include any synthetic additives (including sulfites).
European vineyards, by comparison, may add a low amount of synthetic additives (including sulfites) to grapes that were 100% organically grown and still label their product as “certified organic.”
Some wines will label their product in broader terms, such as “made from organic ingredients” or “organically sourced.” Using this language, they are likely only required to contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients and they may contain additives of any kind.
Wine produced using biodynamic methods is produced on a vineyard that take sustainability and clean practice to a whole new level. Unlike organic farming, which simply replaces synthetic fertilizers and additives with naturally-derived products, biodynamic farming is based on proposed in the early 20thcentury that aim to conserve the farm’s resources while using them together to create a holistic approach to farming.
In order for a farm to be certified biodynamic, it must first be certified Organic by the USDA and then qualify for the Demeter biodynamic certification separately.
In order for a finished wine to be labeled biodynamic as well, it but undergo a separate certification at which time it will receive the Demeter seal, which would be proudly displayed on the bottle.
Sustainable practices are based on farming that is not only good for the environment, but also makes economic sense. This means that a vineyard may largely use organic practices, but if some of those practices don’t make economic sense, they may choose to skip some of them.
While there is no formal certification for a wine to be sustainable, there are several associations that winemakers can join to formally list themselves as a sustainable vineyard.
For a more in depth description of these categories, we recommend you check out this article.
We encourage you to visit Palmetto Wine Sellers: Organic Wine to shop a selection of organic wines that we believe are as strong in taste as they are in quality.
If an organic lifestyle is important to you, we hope you will check out other like-minded local businesses: Pout! can meet your clean beauty and grooming product needs; Tasty as Fit will help you eat better without sacrificing taste; and City Roots is a a go-to source for fresh, locally grown produce.
Sustainability Programs you can trust: