What’s the difference? Organic? Natural? Biodynamic? Sustainable?

Here is a quick-and-dirty guide to some of the words and logos that you will see on wine labels at the Crystal City Wine Shop:usda-organic-logo

  • Organic: The U.S. government regulates use of the term “organic,” and they are labelled according to very specific guidelines. You will see two types of organic wines: those made from certified organically grown grapes and those that are made without any added sulfites, which can carry the USDA organic logo.
  • demeter-logoBiodynamic: It is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition. It has no legal definition but was first developed in the early 1920s by the Austrian educator and spiritualist Dr. Rudolf Steiner. If you are looking at labels, Demeter International and Biodyvin are what to look for.
  • Sustainable: Has no legal definition but generally refers to a range of practices that are not only ecologically sound, but also economically viable and socially responsible. Some third-party agencies offer sustainability certifications, and many regional industry associations are working on developing clearer standards.
  • Natural: Again, it has no legal definition and is even fuzzier than other terms. It could be ‘pre-industrial’ wine or ‘traditional’ wine, but at the least, it has not been manipulated for scores or critical acclaim. It expresses terrior, regional varietals, and regional styles.

For more information on these topics, check out these websites: