Sustainable wine is growing in popularity, as more people want to be conscious of their food and beverage consumption, including the wine they drink!
A sustainable wine means that the farming and winemaking practices of the vineyards are eco-friendly. To be get a sustainable winegrowing certification, wineries have an independent third party to analyze the vinification practices and see if they meet the required standards.
Some of the evaluation includes if their practices are environmentally stable while still producing high-quality wine. Sustainable vineyards and winery practices consist of conserving water, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and maintaining healthy soil while protecting the air and water quality. Also, they typically strengthen relationships with the community and employees to preserve local ecosystems and wildlife, educating those around them about their practices.
With climate crises around the globe, sustainable wines are more important now than ever before. For example, the famous wine country in Sonoma, California, has experienced raging fires that present serious harm to the land and vineyards. Some have even burned down. As a result, farmers and winemakers in warmer climates harvest earlier to prevent over-ripening grapes. These winemakers take into account how they can sustain their fertile land for many growing seasons to come. It is possible to create high-quality wines while taking care of the land!
Buying sustainable wine helps support environmentally conscious wineries and move the wine industry to a more sustainable and climate-friendly future.
Water Conservation in Winemaking
Many wineries conserve water via a sustainable water conservation system that allows water to purify naturally. Through awareness training, practice, and process implementation, many wineries can now successfully conserve water naturally. Why does water conversation matter for wineries? Traditional wineries can use up to 600,000 gallons of water for growing grapes!
One of the most popular natural water conservation systems consists of constructed wetlands filled with diverse plants that scrub the wastewater within the plants’ roots, effectively purifying it. The water is then collected in a second pond, where it is distributed throughout the winery. One winemaker leading the way in CCOF Certification for Stellar Certification Operations recently commented, “We have recycled millions of gallons of water in this way.”
If this system is not possible for the winery due to land or budget constraints, they can focus on plumbing modifications that include hot water usage, drip irrigation, and circulation.
The Carbon Footprint of Wine
Reducing carbon emissions is another huge part of sustainable wine. There have been many innovative approaches to cut the carbon footprint of wineries. Some goals include purchasing green electricity, improving energy efficiency, reducing fuel consumption, adopting electric vehicles, using different wine packaging systems, reducing air shipments/air travel, and promoting biodiversity. The efforts do not stop here, but these improvements have a significant impact on the environment. Even better, they are improving these ways every day.
Organic and Biodynamic Wine
It’s important to note that sustainable wines are different from purchasing organic or biodynamic wines. They have similar traits but not the same certifications.
When you purchase an organic wine, it means that the ingredients are organically grown and meet the organic wine certifications that differ from sustainable certifications. That being said, organic wine, more often than not, will have come from a sustainable winery!
While organic wine has many benefits, some of the drawbacks of organic wines include a shorter shelf life because of the lack of sulfites for wine preservation.
Sustainable wines are often interchangeably defined as biodiverse wines, but they are not the same thing. Biodiversity is the variety of life in a habitat or ecosystem. Many wineries, instead of spraying harmful pesticides, use natural resources to keep the pests down. In addition, some use energy-efficient equipment for winemaking as well. Doing this reduces the chances of disrupting natural ecosystems and wildlife, one of the best parts of sustainable wine farming!
Biodynamic wines contain no chemicals or additives throughout the winemaking process. Throughout the growing process, they are free from any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and chemicals. When grapes are harvested and made into wine, they, too, are free of any GMOs. Biodynamic wines differ from organic wines in that they consider the entire ecosystem as grapes are grown. They must consider various things, ranging from how topsoil health is processed to how they control pests on the grapes. Biodynamic wines are similar to certified sustainable wines but don’t necessarily have the official requirements.
Sustainable Initiatives in the Wine Industry
All around the world, winemakers are taking the initiative to create long-lasting farming practices. In Australia, there is a surge shifting the country towards sustainable winemaking and, in the process, less reliant on chemically-driven wines. Sonoma Valley wine country recently committed to becoming the first fully sustainable wine region in the United States in 2019. In addition, Oregon wine country has its own Certified Sustainable Wine (OCSW) program. Every day more wineries are pledging to create sustainable wines for the world to enjoy for generations to come.
Is Wine Insiders Sustainable?
Short answer, yes! Wine Insiders makes it easy to get sustainably made wine straight to your doorstep with our sustainable selections. One of our favorites is the 2019 Finca del Marquesado Tempranillo Rioja, A Family-made, Sustainable Tempranillo. This 2019 Tempranillo from the Finca del Marquesado family estate in Rioja focuses on sustainable wine production and utilizing the natural environment’s biodiversity to bring out the freshest, fullest-body flavors.
Are you interested in adding sustainable wine to your next meal? Check out our selection of diverse, sustainable wines!