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Whats the Difference Between Sustainable, Organic and Biodynamic Wine?

Fri, Mar 25, 22


We get asked this question quite often and in honor of Earth Day, we decided to offer you a simple explanation:

Sustainable  winemaking involves a communal effort to reduce wastefulness by protecting our soil, water and air. A huge focus is placed on energy and water conservation. Producers practice night-harvesting and use alternative energy such as solar panels. Pest problems are also addressed using biological and/or cultural controls.  Animals are free to roam; chickens are put on pesky insect patrol, sheep gladly handle weeds and birds nesting above kill off vine-loving rodents.


Here’s a fun fact: By 2019, the entire wine region of Sonoma will be sustainable! One of our favorite Napa Valley wineries, Alpha Omega is sustainable. If Napa Valley isn’t your thing, check out this spring and summer white from Chateau Turcaud!


Headache sufferers, if you are convinced sulfites are to blame—then why not experiment with some organic wine? Organic wine producers use 100% organic grown grapes and can’t use toxic pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers. Compost and manure is used to increase soil microbial activity and eliminates all synthetic products that create a toxic environment. Specific limitations are also set for the allowance of sulfites. Headache sufferers, if you are convinced sulfites are to blame—then why not experiment with some organic wine?


There are countless certifications, but because they are expensive, many vintners practice organically without them. One of our favorite rosés for this season is certified organic, 2017 Sentier Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé. Chad Melville is also working organically at his family’s vineyard in Santa Barbara.

Biodynamic, or the “nurtured by nature” movement, started in the 1920’s, by an Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner.  It is by far the oldest (we’re talking ancient), anti-chemical movement that predates organic farming. It can also be described as a holistic “energy management system.”


The biodynamic calendar is broken up into four categories: fruit, root, flower and leaf days. Winemakers follow this calendar as a guide for planting and harvesting (think the Farmer’s Almanac but even more detailed, with ecological, spiritual and mystical influences).


Robert Sinskey, a Gary’s staff favorite, has long been working biodynamically for nearly 20 years. Even the legendary Opus Oneis working biodynamically!


Check out events at your local Gary’s this weekend to taste these or other great earth-friendly wines!