by Sarah Shotwell
Earth Day is the perfect time to celebrate what our winegrowers and winemakers are doing to improve farming practices and care for the earth. But how do we cut through the noise and decide which wines to purchase? All three of the following certifications have something unique to offer the planet and to wine consumers. All require a third party audit and an annual certification. Here the ways they differ:
USDA Organic is a national-level certification that asserts wines were grown with only organic-approved chemicals, with attention given to water quality, soil conservation, biodiversity, and habitat.
Biodynamic wines, spiking in popularity in recent years, are grown with spiritual-scientific practices based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. These practices, which include natural composting, avoidance of all manufactured chemicals, and adherence to a strict harvesting and pruning calendar, are meant to improve vineyard health, nourish vine and soil immunity and nurture each farm’s unique ecosystem.
SIP (Sustainability in Practice)
SIP, a designation run by a California-based eco-nonprofit, The Vineyard Team, meets similar standards to that of USDA Organic. It also includes an emphasis on air quality, energy and water conservation, social responsibility, and sound business practices, such as fair pay for vineyard workers.
This Earth Day, try a sustainable wine, and let’s raise a glass to the many winegrowers who are making strides to improve the care of our planet!