If you enjoy a nice bottle of wine but also want to do your part to protect the environment, sustainable wine is up your alley.
The wine industry has seen a years-long trend in organic wine. The International Wines and Spirits Record expected a 9.2 percent annual growth rate in organic wine consumption between 2017 and 2022, with a projected 87.5 million cases of organic wine being sold. Organic wines, however, are not always sustainable. Sustainable wines must meet a different standard.
Organic vs. Sustainable
- In the U.S., the Department of Agriculture certifies wine as organic when it meets the following requirements:
- Grapes are grown without synthetic fertilizers, and in a manner that protects the environment and preserves the soil.
- Other agricultural ingredients that go into the wine, such as yeast, are also certified organic.
- Any non-agricultural ingredients must be specifically allowed on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances and can’t exceed 5 percent of the total product.
- No sulfites are added. Sulfites are put in most food and drinks to keep them from going bad, however too much sulfite can cause some health issues. Sustainable and organic growing and wine making share common practices, such as using natural soil additives.
Sustainability, however, is also about how the grapes are grown. In the state of Texas, the Austin Bartending Company says, sustainability means “traditional wine-making techniques are observed.”
Another name for sustainable wines in Texas is biodynamic wine. “It is like organic wine on overdrive,” the Austin Bartending Company says. This is also to do with the growth of the grapes themselves.
Biodynamic producers use compost instead of artificial fertilizer, for instance, and plan to harvest in tandem with the natural progression of the seasons. As vineyards do not need as much water as other crops, it is more sustainable for farmers to plant vines in the spring with heavier rain. The vines are able to tolerate the Texas summers, and then are ready for harvest come fall.
Sustainable winemakers also ensure biodiversity among their wines, ensure the health of their soil, practice recycling and water conservation, and use renewable energy in their operations.
This biodynamic method prevents strain on the environment, as well as giving the wine itself a better flavor. Growers and winemakers use the term “terroir” when talking about how sustainable and organic wines are able to preserve the natural flavors found in the soil. Fortunately, these and the weather patterns that shaped each harvest provide the different ‘tastes’ of Texas.
Be sure to look for the green sticker that certifies organic wine, and any other label that boasts sustainable farming for a better and healthier experience.