Move over old school wine, we now drink ‘eco-savvy’ wine! In this growing environmentally conscious age, there is a lot of conscientious support for brands that offer green and clean products. Likewise, earth-friendly liquor brands, especially wine, are now making efforts to overhaul the way they’re producing drinks to play their part in protecting the earth.
So before you purchase a bottleful of eco-wine, you should know what’s in it as well as all the fancy eco buzz words that you should be looking out for on the label.
If you know nothing about these, here’s a simple breakdown:
When a company produces sustainable wine, it basically tells you that they are:
- Controlling or eliminating chemical waste and the use of pesticides
- Replanting crops or trees to compensate for the harvest
- Reducing their carbon footprint
- Taking energy-efficiency initiatives
- Recycling packages
- Planning biodiversity programs and wildlife conservation
Among other green initiatives, the primary goal of producing sustainable wine is to leave the least negative impact on the earth.
Some sustainable wines to try are:
Palmer & Co. Brut Reserve NV – $60: Note that the wine in the bottles now was produced before the winery turned to a more sustainable focus. But you should take pride in supporting a company that’s making a positive change.
Domaine Carneros Blanc de Blancs 2014 – $60: Made from 26% pinot gris and 74% chardonnay, this dry and slightly floral Napa bubbly is produced by a winery that recently received the 2019 California Green Medal Business Award for their sustainable practices.
Clean French Wine
France has the Haute Qualité Environnementale (HQE) that certifies wineries. The HQE promotes a holistic approach to biodiversity, water preservation, vine treatments and fertilizer management through the regulation of the type and quantity of products used.
Lately, many wineries like Champagne Palmer have renewed their production in order to stick to these new guidelines. The company is now operating with at least 80% of its viticulture under the HQE guidelines and is now providing sustainability training to the staff and partners every year.
The Bordeaux Wine Trade is also working hard to make its vineyards sustainable: 60 percent of which has already been reported to be running on environmental practices since 2017. According to Vins de Bordeaux some of these include changes in cultivation practices like reduction in grass mowing to allow insects to thrive (insects are required to pollinate), protecting the bad colonies (help in vine preservation without pesticide use), and a call to include the integration of agri-environmental measures in guidelines as a requirement for quality designation.
First things first: there’s a difference between wine made from organic grapes and organic wine.
“Either the wine has ‘certified organically grown grapes’, which is exactly what it sounds like—no synthetic pesticides, etc. Or the wine is ‘organic wine,’ which means the wine is not only made from organic grapes, but there are also no added sulfites during production.” – vineyardbrands.com
The catch here is that every wine, whether organic or not, still contains natural sulfites. So there’s actually no way you can label a wine ‘entirely’ organic. So for wine to be labeled organic, the winery must stand by all the requirements that its home country’s governing body of agriculture states, like the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) or ECOCERT in Europe.
However, there are many wineries that abide by fully organic practices without even pursuing the certification – either because of the extra costs required to do so or because of the many checks to qualify. It isn’t legal to make these kind of claims on a label, but if you do value organic wine practices, go with the certified wines and do a little bit of homework to know the practices the company actually follows.
Ch. Mercier Côtes de Bourg Bordeaux Rosé ($25): This fine organic wine is made with 15% Cabernet Franc, 80% Merlot, 5% Malbec in the pink style. This winery is from an estate that’s been farming since the 17th-century and is certified organic and sustainable since 1984.
Famille Perrin Nature Côtes du Rhône 2017 – $15: The prestigious Beaucastel family—famous for their exceptional Chateauneuf du Pape – $94 – owns this label. Their commitment to the earth is now ECOCERT certified.
Biodynamic is the wine that’s produced with an extra effort – an effort that is a couple of giant sized steps ahead of organic. Biodynamic farms are kind of an ecosystem of their own, and so no synthetic chemical interference of any kind is used to produce biodynamic wines.
The biodynamic practice has a ‘hippy-dippy-trippy’ reputation because of the employment of agricultural concepts, including astrological charts and lunar growing cycles and other systems that are 100 percent natural to protect and nourish the vines.
In a way, biodynamic wine farming is the exhibition of the interconnectivity of the earth, the solar system and the vines. Pretty deep right? Additionally, strict calendars identifying the best days for harvesting, pruning and watering are also used.
Some biodynamic wines to try:
Bodega Chacra Barda 2017 – $30: This 100% pinot noir comes from the Rio Negro Valley in Patagonia, Argentina and is produced from Argencert-certified fruit and Demeter-certified biodynamic.
Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain Red Blend 2015 – $28: Even this palatable red wine is made from Demeter-certified grown 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 14% Syrah, 4% Malbec,1% Touriga Nacional, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Tinta Cao and 1% Souzao – all grown within a radius of 2 miles of this elegant winery is the Red Mountain AVA of Washington State.