The Guardian | May 5, 2016
Capital Press | August 27, 2015
Lamorinda Weekly | August 26, 2015
Ramona Sentinel | August 21, 2015
The New York Times | August 20, 2015
Throughout California, there are organizations that promote sustainable vineyard and winemaking practices. Each program has its own certification process for vineyards and wines. Although these programs have different guidelines, most include best management practices for pest control, energy efficiency, economic sustainability, water conservation, and habitat conservation.
Wolff Vineyards, SIP Certified
Edna Valley, CA
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) is a non-profit incorporated by the Wine Institute and the California Association of Wine Grape Growers . Through the Sustainable Winegrowing Program(SWP), CSWA establishes sustainability standards for winegrape growers and winemakers, facilitates educational outreach events, and fosters relationships among stakeholders. Based on the SWP standards and code book, a third party certification- Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing- was created to allow growers and vintners to become sustainably certified. The program is designed to promote a “Cycle of Continuous Improvement,” as participants can continually self-assess and develop plans to increase their adoption of sustainable practices.
Lodi Rules was California’s first third party sustainable winegrowing certification program; the original standards were launched in 2005. The Lodi Rules workbook is broken down into six chapters: business management, human resources, ecosystem management, soil management, water management, and pest management. The program works to promote a comprehensive system of farming and sustainability.
The Napa Valley Vintners’ Napa Green Program is a third party sustainable certification program for land use and wineries in Napa Valley. Priorities include water conservation, waste reduction, and pollution prevention. Through Napa Green Certified Land, a unique plan is developed for each property to help protect and restore the Napa Valley watershed; this includes vineyards or non-farmed land. The Napa Green Certified Winery program provides a checklist for area wineries to promote resource conservation and pollution prevention.
The Vineyard Team is a regional organization providing educational outreach, resources, and assistance to promote environmentally, economically, and viticulturally sustainable winegrape growing. Although the Vineyard Team primarily works in San Luis Obispo, San Benito, and Monterey counties, their sustainable certification program, Sustainability in Practice (SIP), is available to vineyards and wineries throughout California.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed national regulations for organic foods and products. This includes wine grapes and wines. As a part of the USDA, the National Organic Program (NOP) sets guidelines for processing and labeling organic products.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is in charge of state’s organic program. They enforce NOP standards, coordinate with the USDA, and also uphold California’s State organic standards under the California Organic Products Act of 2003.
Within the state, there are accredited certifying agents that are registered with CDFA’s State Organic Program. These agents work with farmers, processors, and retailers to help them attain organic certification by state and national standards. This is why organic products may have two organic seals: the USDA seal and the organic certifying agent’s seal.
To be certified organic, a vineyard must meet all of the national and state organic criteria. These regulations include restrictions on the types of fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides that can be used in the vineyards. No synthetic or non-organic chemicals can be used. Organic agriculture emphasizes the use of natural fertilizers like composted animal manures, the controlling of weeds through mulching or disking soils, and using natural methods to control insect problems.
Bucklin Old Hill Ranch, Certified Organic Vineyard,
If a wine label says “Organic Wine,” it means that this wine contains all organic grapes grown meeting NOP standards. The wine was processed using only organic processing aids and ingredients in a certified organic winery. Organic Wine contains no added sulfites, although up to 10ppm of natural sulfites maybe found in the wine. The wine bottle may have the USDA Seal and the certifying agent’s seal.
Made With Organic Grapes
The “Made With Organic Grapes” wine label indicates that the wine is made with organically produced ingredients grown meeting NOP standards. During processing, minimal additives to the wine are allowed, including up to 100ppm of sulfites. Wine is made in a certified organic winery. This wine may only have the certifying agent’s seal on the bottle. Wines may also contain organic and non-organic grapes. If this is the case, the organic and non-organic grapes must be of different varieties, and the wine label will indicate the percentage of both.
California has many organic certifying agents, an updated list is available on the CDFA website
California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) is one of state’s largest certifying agents.
Click here for CCOF’s Organic Directory to find certified organic wines
Biodynamic agriculture is a farming system that was launched following Rudolph Steiner’s Agriculture Courses in the 1920’s. Today, Biodynamic farms meet National Organic Standards, but place additional emphasis on the treatment of the farm as a holistic unit. Practitioners use homeopathic treatments and astrological considerations while farming and seek to integrate plants and animals, increase biodiversity, reduce external inputs for fertility and pest control, and improve soil health. Demeter USA uses the Demeter Farm and Processing Standards to certify Biodynamic farms.
AmByth Estate, Biodynamic Vineyard
If a wine label says “Biodynamic Wine,” it means that the wine was made with 100% Biodynamic grapes in a Demeter certified winery. Wine production follows the Demeter USA Winemaking Standards found in the Processing Standards (Page 38, section 12). The winemaking standards put specifications on the inclusion of additives and yeasts, handling grapes, aging wine, crushing, and fermenting. Biodynamic Wines contain no sulfites. Read more with the Demeter Wine FAQ Sheet.
What is the difference between Organic and Biodynamic?
Wine Made With Biodynamic Grapes
The “Wine Made with Biodynamic Grapes” label indicates that the wine is made with 100% Biodynamic grapes in a Demeter certified winery, but the winemaking standards are the same as the National Organic Program “Made With Organic Grapes” label instead of the Demeter Winemaking Standards. This means that minimal additives and manipulations to the wines and grapes are permitted, including up to 100ppm of sulfites.
To find a list of Biodynamic Vineyards and Wines, download Demeter Winery and Vineyard Member List, 2014