What You Need to Know about Biodynamic, Organic and Sustainable Wines

There are many ways that wines are marketed to consumers. Sometimes it’s cute labels or noting that a wine is “Award winning”; or it may be how a wine is packaged, such as the weight of the wine bottle to convey “luxury”.  

More and more these days, you’ll find wines marketed to consumers as being “biodynamic”, “organic”, or “sustainable”.  It is easy to become confused over the difference between biodynamically, organic, and sustainably produced wines.

We’re here to help!

Biodynamic Wines are made without chemicals, but biodynamic farming takes it a step further, incorporating ideas about a vineyard as an ecosystem, and accounting for things such as astrological influences and lunar cycles. Think of it as a holistic (some would say spiritual) approach to farming. The government doesn’t certify a wine as Biodynamic®, the independent Demeter Association does.

Organic Wines are certified by the U.S.D.A. They are made with organically grown grapes, and any additives (fining agents, yeast, etc.) must be organic. No GMO’s (or other prohibited ingredients) are allowed including Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) additions (sulfites). The challenge with organic wines is that, currently sulfur is the best natural preservative for wine.  Therefore, organic wines have a much shorter shelf life and aren’t meant to age. Note: A wine labeled “Made with Organic Grapes” is made with organic grapes, and organic additives, but the wines are permitted to have a small amount of sulfites.

Sustainable Wines goes beyond biodynamic and organic because sustainability also considers resource management in terms things like water and energy efficiency in the vineyard and the winery. There are a multitude of sustainability certification programs.

It’s important to note that sustainably produced wines may be made from biodynamic, or organically grown grapes. In other words, biodynamic and/or organically farmed grapes are a subset of sustainability. 

The Lodi, California wine region created California’s first third party certified sustainable-winegrowing program called Lodi Rules. It’s a great example of a world-class certified sustainability practices that include air-quality control, land stewardship, soil fertility, water and energy management, and even human resources that go well beyond what is happening in the vineyard.

If sustainability matters to you, look for Lodi Rules “Certified Green” wines, to help our environment one delicious bottle at a time!