The Evolution of Organic Wine Standards
Last April, I wrote my blog about organic, bio-dynamic, and sustainable winemaking. In the short time since, as consumers and industry professionals become increasingly aware of these winemaking practices, much more information has become available. I recently read an article about sustainable winemaking practices on guildsomm.com by Jessica Depuy. It seems as though it’ll be some time before there’s a governing body that will encompass ALL wineries and their farming practices. Can you imagine? Who would think that a winemaker from California will think the same way as a winemaker from Burgundy? One or the other may have been practicing this way for years and may not want to go through the official certification process, whatever that may be for their given area.
There are some international standards but New Zealand is recognized as a leader in sustainable practices. Sustainable Wine Growing New Zealand (SWNS) was created in 1995 by New Zealand wine growers with an eye toward the production of quality wine in the long term. In 2007 they created the “pillars” of sustainability which that include things like water, energy, air, plant health, people, biodiversity, waste, soil, and business to be implemented by 2012. The standard requires that 100% of the fruit and winemaking practices qualify as sustainable, the highest of any program across the world.
The certification most often seen in the United States is USDA Organic. Because of its ban on sulfur, winemakers added the “made with organic grapes” label. There is no identifiable logo or emblem, so it’s left to the consumer to discover. There are several organizations that “govern” sustainable practices including California Wine Institute, Sustainability In Practice (SIP) Certified, Lodi Rules, and the California Association of Wine Grape Growers (CAWG). Really, they offer guidance on how to be more sustainable. In January of 2014, Sonoma County Winegrowers committed to becoming the nation’s first 100% sustainable wine growing region. In just 5 years, 89% of the vineyard acres have taken a step to engage in a third party audit to obtain certification.
Those are just two countries, but there are many more! Chile and Italy have sustainability programs, as do many others. It seems like distributors I buy from are now announcing to me if a wine is organic, bio-dynamic, or sustainable. In less than a year, I’ve had to switch gears and pay far more attention to this. It really matters to an ever-growing cross section of consumers.
Want to try some organic wines? Find these in the Market!
Gaspard, Pinot Noir $22
2015 | Loire Valley, France
Fine tannis, ripe black fruit.
Domaine de la Patience, Chardonnay $20
N/V | Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Pale yellow in the glass with a tart, fruity nose & dynamic mineral scents. The palate opens with crisp citrus & peach flavors that are boosted by vibrant acidity & heady minerality.
March Wines of the Month
Red Wine of the Month
Italo Pietrantonj | Montepulciano D’Abruzzo | 2013 | Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, Italy
Deep purple hue with dried floral and fruit notes. Dried tobacco and chocolate on the palate coming from the barrel aging. Goes well with heartier cheeses and grilled meats.
White Wine of the Month
Monkey Bay | Sauvignon Blanc | 2017 | South Island, New Zealand
A fresh, clean, and approachable Sauvignon Blanc. Think grapefruit and lemon with some herbal character. Goes well with chicken, sea bass, and shell fish.