Today is Earth Day, a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. While many of us are following through on our individual pledges to be more conservative in our consumption or more active in our recycling efforts, one easy pledge to follow is to drink and buy eco-friendly wine gifts.
There are three categories of eco-friendly wines: sustainable, organic, and biodynamic. “Sustainable” means that the grapes were grown with few to no chemical, fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides, thereby keeping the soil naturally nurtured. Unlike organic wines, sustainable viticulture lacks certification or oversight by an outside body.
Organic wines are grown in organically certified vineyards and are made without added sulfites. These strict regulations are often problematic, however, due to confusing legal terms as well as the tendency of wines to spoil prematurely without the addition of sulfites. As a result, you are more likely to see a U.S. wine labeled “made from organically grown grapes” than one labeled simply “organic.”
Lastly, biodynamic winemaking goes way beyond organics. The farm is viewed in its entirety to as a living system with both physical and spiritual considerations. Lunar and cosmic rhythms are used in viticultural practices, and the soil used is treated with complex compost preparations (of course without chemicals or pesticides), including quartz, yarrow flowers, stinging nettle, and more. Biodynamic winemakers claim to have noted stronger, clearer, more vibrant tastes in their wines. In fact, a blind tasting conducted by Fortune found that nine of the biodynamic wines in the tasting were judged superior to their conventional counterpart.
It is worth noting that the rise in global temperatures has many winemakers feeling anxious, to say the least. In warm climates like Napa, the rise of a few degrees in temperature threatens to make it difficult, if not impossible, to produce balanced wines. On the other hand, British winemakers, for example, would benefit from the rise in temperatures and would be able to successfully plant Bordeaux or Champagne grapes for the first time.
One last note: if you would like to sample an excellent eco-friendly wine, check out The Organic Duo from one of California’s pioneers in organic viticulture.
Happy Earth Day!