Sustainable wine is a wine that has been produced in a thoughtful, economical and ecologically responsible way. It is not wine that has been made in a special way, but it is wine that has been made in a responsible way whether it be organically, biodynamically, naturally or conventionally.
For a wine to be classed as a sustainable wine, it means that throughout the production, all the way from growing the grapes to pressing them into wine, an environmentally conscious method has been used, meaning the wine is produced with as little impact on the environment as possible.
Sustainable wines are produced in vineyards that practice a whole range of responsible methods. This includes; water and energy conservation, preservation of ecosystems and local wildlife as well as avoiding harmful peptides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers.
Sustainable wine production isn’t just about what happens in the vineyard, it is also about what happens after the wine leaves. For example, sustainable wine producers may be concerned with how;
- The wine is packaged: is it free from single use plastic, can it be bottled in recycled glass?
- It is transported: is it transported in a way that produces as little carbon emissions as possible?
- The employees are treated: do employees get fair compensation for their work?
- Social responsibility: can the vineyard help the surrounding community in any way?
One thing we as consumers need to be aware of is ambiguity when it comes to language in the world of sustainable wine. Words such as ‘clean’ do not necessarily mean the wine is sustainable, it is just a marketing description. Some words you should know, if you are trying to shop more sustainably, are:
- Organic: organic wine uses 100% organic grapes and producers do not use toxic pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers. Instead they fertilize with compost, compost teas, green manure, and cover crops. They also rely on mechanical weeding, mowing around the vines, mulching, and companion planting.
- Biodynamic: biodynamic wine follows traditional processes that treat the earth as a ‘living and receptive organism’. Biodynamic wine follows a planting calendar which depends on astrological configurations.
- Natural wine: natural wine is more of a concept than a well defined category. The most agreed characteristic is that the wine is made from unadulterated grape juice, and nothing else.