Organic vs. Biodynamic vs. Sustainable vs. Natural

There are a lot of buzz words included on wine labels recently, and a lot of them can be extremely confusing to anybody who wants to drink responsibly, in terms of the environment rather than in terms of moderation.

Organic, biodynamic, sustainable, and natural wines are all produced using different farming and winemaking practices. While there is some overlap between these terms, each approach has its own distinct philosophy and methods.

  • Organic wines are made from grapes that have been grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Organic winemakers must also follow strict guidelines during the winemaking process, including limits on the use of sulfites and other additives. Certification requirements for organic wines vary by country, but in general, organic wines are made using methods that prioritize environmental sustainability and health.
  • Biodynamic wines are made using farming practices that go beyond organic methods. Biodynamic farming is based on the idea that the vineyard is a holistic ecosystem that includes the vines, soil, and surrounding plants and animals. Biodynamic winemakers use composts and cover crops to promote soil health, and they follow a lunar calendar for planting and harvesting. Biodynamic wines are typically made using minimal intervention in the winemaking process, with a focus on expressing the unique character of the vineyard and grapes.
  • Sustainable wines are made using farming and winemaking practices that prioritize long-term environmental and social sustainability. This can include practices such as reducing water and energy use, using renewable energy sources, and promoting biodiversity in the vineyard. Sustainability can also encompass social and economic factors, such as fair labor practices and community engagement.
  • Natural wines are made using minimal intervention in the winemaking process, with a focus on expressing the natural character of the grapes and vineyard. Natural winemakers typically use wild yeasts for fermentation and avoid the use of chemical additives such as sulfites. The term “natural wine” is not regulated, however, and there is some debate within the wine industry about what qualifies as a “natural” wine.

Overall, each of these approaches to winemaking emphasizes a different set of values and methods, but they all share a commitment to producing high-quality wines in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Now, cheers to Mother Nature!