There are a lot of wines that qualify as eco-friendly wines and a great deal of diversity about what does and does not qualify as organic. Unfortunately, not all wines claiming to be organic are fully organic. Labeling inconsistencies don’t exactly help either.
Defining Organic Wines
In the U.S., wines must meet certain standards in order to qualify for USDA organic certification. According to Organic Consumers wine must be made from organically grown grapes in order to be certified organic. The USDA must be provided with information about the certifying agency as well. Also, U.S. wines that are certified organic can have no added sulfites.
Natural sulfites occur as part of the fermentation process, but there are no sulfites added in the winemaking process. Wine Folly reports that while U.S. organic wines have no added sulfites, organic wines made in Canada and Europe, may add them.
Organic Wine Certifications
The USDA is an important organization for certifying organic wines, but there are other types of certifications worth considering for wine lovers. These certifications indicate that wine is not only organic, but also that the producer has taken steps to reduce their impact locally and globally.
Below are a few great places to locate sustainable wines.
Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing Participants. This is a list of companies that have gone to the effort of qualifying as Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing Participants. It also goes into details about which parts of the operation have been certified.
Demeter Certified Wines. Demeter offers two types of certification: the Demeter Biodynamic Farm Standard and the Demeter Biodynamic Processing Standard. Wine is covered by the second, which ensured “an unbroken chain of accountability from the farm to the finished product.”
Food Alliance. The primary objective of Food Alliance is to support sustainability in food and agriculture. To qualify for the certification agricultural organizations must meet several standards indicating conservation of soil, energy, water, and waste; safe and fair working conditions; humane and healthy treatment of animals; transparency in supply chains; and more.
LIVE Certified Sustainable. Sustainability is another huge concern for eco-conscious consumers. LIVE is on a mission to preserve the human and natural resources used in the wine industry throughout the Pacific Northwest. This is accomplished through third-party certification that extends to the growing standards and production of wine.
Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine. In order to qualify to carry the Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine (OCSW) logo wines must be produced in facilities certified by LIVE, USDA Organic, Food Alliance, or Demeter Biodynamic and 97 percent of the fruit used in the bottle must come from a vineyard that has been certified by one of the same organizations as well.
As you can see, there’s much more that goes into green wines than simply being organic. There are many other standards to consider. Other types of wines that fall beneath the heading of “green” include:
- Biodynamic Wine
- Carbon Neutral Wine
- Fair Trade Wine
- Natural Wine
- Vegan Wine
Each wine has something to offer that appeals to people who want to do better for the planet, themselves, and other people who call the planet home. Any of these wines makes a great choice for wine lovers who prefer a little diversity in their collections.
Why Buy Organic Wines?
For some people it’s simply a matter of doing what’s right for the planet. There are other reasons, though, to consider buying organic wine, including the reasons listed below.
Really, that’s why people drink wine to begin with. Organic wines are made with exceptional attention to detail and quality at every turn. If you haven’t tried organic wines since they first appeared on the market in the 1980s, be prepared for a very pleasant surprise. Newer organic wines offer bolder flavor and much better quality control.
Made with good stuff only!
Let’s talk about what you won’t find in organic wines, first.
- No GMOs
- No Pesticides
- No Herbicides
- No Synthetic Fertilizers
- No ADDED Sulfites (USDA Certified Organic Wines)
People with sensitivities to sulfites or chemicals will find organic wines a much more suitable option than those that are not.
Less Susceptible to Vintage Variation
Because organic wines are not mass produced the way conventional wines are, grapes have greater natural resistance to natural phenomena that can cause diseases to course through larger vineyards. This makes the organic grapes less likely to succumb to the diseases, pests, and even weather related stresses that can result in vintages that are quite unimpressive in larger conventional vineyards.
Greater Value for a Higher Quality Product
It’s true that organic wines cost a little more than their traditional counterparts. However, you’re receiving a higher quality product in return that is sufficiently better quality to make it well worth the extra money spent on a good bottle of organic wine.
Better for Your Health
The best thing about organic wines is that they are better for your health than traditional wines – when enjoyed in moderation, of course. It’s not all about the things not added, which do go a long way to ensure better health. It’s also about the fact that only good things go in. Without the addition of sulfites, wine lovers can often enjoy an occasional glass of wine without worrying about a debilitating headache or asthma attack symptoms afterwards.
How Bad are Non-Organic Wines?
Wine Folly recently reported that more than 30 pesticides were used in one Napa zip code. More disturbing, though, is the fact that toxic watersheds and groundwater contamination are the second greatest risk conventional vineyards face.
While things like pesticide poisoning are often thought of as something relegated to third-world countries, in 2011, the French court found a winery guilty of poisoning one of its workers with pesticides.
For the planet, and the people working in the vineyards, there’s no doubt that non-organic wines aren’t as ideal as organic wines. For the people drinking the wine though, it comes down to a matter of your own conscience and what you’re willing to put into your body.
Wine plays an important role in the lives of so many people. It is used for celebrations, religious rites, ceremonies, anniversaries, and as the perfect ending for a day for many people. Choosing organic, or some variation of green wine, makes it even better for everyone – and the planet.
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