Supporting Sustainability in Wine

sustainabilityOne of the recent changes that some may have noticed around the Shop is the increased emphasis on sustainability. There are tons of certifications that wineries can choose (and not choose) to put on their labels that say something about their attempts at sustainability. Here are some of the certifications that you will see on bottles around the Shop:

Organic:

  • “Made with Organic Grapes”: Made with 100% 3rd Party Certified Organic grapes, sulfites may be added – up to 100ppm. USDA
  • USDA Organic: 100% 3rd Party Certified Organic grapes, no sulfites added – under 10ppm. USDA (Note: Sulfites aren’t bad.)
  • EU Organic: 100% organically grown grapes, organic additives, limited sulfur additions. EU Commission

Sustainability:

While organics mainly concerns a focus on products used, sustainability certifications are concerned with water and energy efficiency in the vineyard and winery. They vary greatly because of the environmental needs of differing regions and how organizations have decided to measure efficiency.

  • EMS ISO 14000 Family: A group of standards for companies and organizations to manage their environmental responsibilities. Popular in several wine regions, including Bordeaux, Chile, and Australia.
  • Certified Green (aka Lodi Rules): It has six areas of focus: 1) business management, 2) human resource management, 3) ecosystem management, 4) soil management, 5) water management, and 6) pest management; and over 100 sustainability practices that are called “Standards”, which have been peer reviewed by scientists, academics, and environmental organizations. Verified Annually.
  • Certified California Sustainable Vineyard and Winery (CCSW): Three areas of sustainability are measured: Environmental Soundness, Economical Feasibility and Social Equality.
  • California Green Businesses: A group of businesses (including 52 wineries, breweries, and distilleries) that work to grow a vibrant and healthy green economy. No label but online search.
  • Napa Green: A program for soil-to-bottle environmental stewardship and winemaking for the Napa Valley, includes workforce and community sustainability. No label.
  • SIP Certified (Sustainability in Practice): Another California-based certification focused on economic viability, environmental stewardship, and social equity. Verified annually. (Just certified their first out-of-state vineyard in Aug. 2017.)
  • LIVE Certified (Low Input Viticulture and Enology): A Pacific-Northwest focused (Oregon, Washington, & Idaho) certification that is tuned to their climate.
  • Salmon Safe: Focused on areas with fragile riparian areas, this certification looks at run-off and ways for wineries to develop long-term soil conservation and other techniques that will help support salmon populations.
  • Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ): Do you buy New Zealand wine? Look for this label. 98% percent of their vineyard area is certified sustainable. The program focuses on a wide range of factors including crop biodiversity, soil, water and air standards, energy use, chemical use, vineyard and winery waste, social impact, and sustainable business practices.
  • Certified Sustainable Wine of Chile: Voluntary code that focuses on vineyard, winery, and social equity and renewed every 2 years.
  • Integrity & Sustainability Certified: This is South Africa’s certification (with 93.6% of wines carrying the seal in 2016) and it covers worker safety, water efficiency, chemical/pesticide usage reduction, and more.
  • Sustainable Australia Winegrowing (SAW): It is a vineyard-only program that’s objective includes maximizing grower and regional sustainability.
  • Bodegas de Argentina Sustainability Protocol: No label yet for this protocol that was launched with the Catena Institute of Wine. Came from work done by the Catena family that used the California Code of Sustainability and adapted it to Argentina.

Biodynamics & Other Certifications:

There are other subsets of sustainability that focus on maintaining soil health but they come at it from different angles. Biodynamics is a low-interventionist winemaking practice that uses the lunar cycles and a number of soil preparations to improve soil quality and overall vineyard health. Viticulture Raisonnée (or Rational Viticulture) is the application of Agriculture Raisonnée to wine.

  • Demeter: An international organization that certifies farms of all types and allows them to use the trademark terms “Biodynamic®” and “Demeter®”. “Healing the planet through agriculture”
  • Biodyvin: Started in 1995, a group of winegrowers that are farmed entirely biodynamically. “More simply: nothing added, nothing taken out, nothing changed.”
  • Terra Vitis: A French organization for Viticulture Raisonnée that committed to making wine with “the stamp of French vinegrower-winemakers who respect nature, Man and wine.”

While this is quite the list, it is not exhaustive! There are other organizations out there that are working to improve the sustainability of various regions, industries, and sections of the wine trade. We will try to keep this list up-to-date and let you know as we discover more exciting programs around the world …

This Week’s Schedule: