In the age of eco-friendliness and sustainability, no industry has remained untouched. This is especially true for the food and beverage worlds, particularly in relation to farming and harvesting techniques.
You’ve heard about organic and biodynamic wines but there is another label you should be looking for: certified sustainable. The sustainability doesn’t so much relate to the wine itself in terms of the drinking part but rather defines the practices and methods the producer uses to actually create the wine.
The Wine Institute of California defines sustainable winegrowing as “a comprehensive set of practices that are environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically viable.” These practices involve measures to ensure water and energy conservation, maintaining healthy soil, protecting air quality, and focusing attention on quality conditions for employees as well as wildlife around vineyards.
You may be thinking “but what does this mean for my wine?” The answer is that sustainable growing doesn’t necessarily affect the flavor of your wine like organic or biodynamic practices might but it does mean that you’re not hurting the environment by drinking your favorite bottle, and that’s always great, right?
The ideology behind sustainable winegrowing is slowly gaining traction but so far there are only a handful of organizations that are monitoring this closely. The biggest is the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance which audits California winegrowers against a long list of criteria determining their sustainable status. LIVE Certified does the same for the Pacific Northwest, and there are others in many of the world’s largest wine producing countries like New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina, and Long Island. Many of these, like the Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing organization provide educational courses and trainings to help local producers gain the appropriate knowledge to ensure they are complying with all sustainable requirements.
As our society faces challenges like climate change and population growth, it will become increasingly necessary to engage in sustainable practices, as a winegrower but also as a consumer. By purchasing certified sustainable wines, you’re assisting these programs in growing their reach throughout the wine industry and protecting our precious vino.
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