This week Washington DC is hosting the The Green Festival. The wine industry is currently undergoing it’s own “greening” process, and clients are making more and more informed decisions when purchasing wine.
But what does “drinking green” look like? (And no, I’m not talking about kale smoothies!) It can be a complicated process and there are many ways to go about it!
Although vintners make countless choices in their efforts towards sustainability and environmental harmony, there are a few main categories that have a major impact on how green your wine choices are.
1. Organic Wines:
This one can be a bit misleading, because the meaning of organic wine varies from country to country. The certification process also varies, and can be prohibitively expensive for smaller wineries. Many wineries that grow their grapes organically are not certified for this reason. Often, the bottle will give you an indication of whether the vineyard employs organic practices.
Often, “Old World” (European) wines use fewer and less harsh pesticides than their “New World” counterparts. This is largely due to their environmental laws prohibiting the use of certain harmful chemicals, as well as the wine making tradition of generations working with the land before the advent of chemicals and machinery.
2. Sustainable Wines
Sustainable wine practices include the planting of beneficial plants and wildflowers, use of bio-diesel fuel, water conservation practices, cork recycling programs, or the elimination of machinery. Hand-picking grapes and plowing by horse are just a few sustainable practices winemakers employ to reduce their environmental footprint. Economic viability and impact on the community- such as fair trade practices- are also often taken into account with sustainable wine making. These practices are often used in conjunction with organic or biodynamic practices.
2. Biodynamic Wines
Biodynamic wine making is similar to organic farming practices in that both take place without chemicals. However, biodynamic farming takes a broader approach, viewing the vineyard as an ecosystem, and incorporating astrological influences and lunar cycles. Biodynamic wines also avoid cellar manipulations such as adjusting yeast or acidity.
4. Drink Local
I was recently at an environmental fundraiser that paid careful attention to providing vegan meal options and flying in hi-profile environmental advocates. However, when I visited the bar I was shocked to see them serving non-sustainable, non-organic, non-biodynamic from the other side of the globe?!
I love foreign wine, but the cost and energy of transporting wine is not without its own environmental impact. Although it’s difficult to grow grapes organically in Virginia, many wineries, such as this one are making incredible strides towards reducing their environmental footprint. Drinking local not only helps the local economy, it helps the environment!
Do you try to drink “green”?