Plant Food: Is Wine Sustainable?

By Wild Elements, Fact checked by Jessica Ochoa

3 min read

Sustainable WIne

It’s always wine o’clock somewhere… and it’s always a good time to learn more about where our food comes from, and how we can make smarter choices that help the planet. Enter “organic wine,” “biodynamic wine,” “clean wine,” and “vegan wine,” which all sound like conscious choices… but only some of them carry the weight of science. So how can we choose the most sustainable wine possible, and even better, wine that’s part of a regenerative agricultural system? With a little bit of research that—spoiler alert—we’ve already done for you. ☺ Let’s begin.

What is organic wine?

Organic wine is made from grapes that are grown with composted natural fertilizer, and without chemical pesticides. Additionally, all the other wine ingredients—which could include sugar, cultured yeasts, and even egg whites—must be organic, too.

What is biodynamic wine?

According to Sonoma Valley vintner Lindsay Hoopes of Hoopes Family Wines, “biodynamic wine takes the concept of sustainable agriculture further by making its growing cycle regenerative, following the natural growing cycles of the seasonal calendar, and giving the land time to regenerate its nutrients after harvesting.” Biodynamic wine is also free of added yeast or acids, and may be “cloudy” in appearance because its natural mineral content hasn’t been filtered out. 

How do I choose wine that’s best for the planet?

According to the Rodale Institute, locally made produce is always the most sustainable choice. So if you live near a wine hub like Napa Valley or Virginia Wine Country, support your neighbors and buy wine from close to home! If you’re a little far out from your nearest vineyard, read the wine labels to see if there’s any mention of the vintner’s commitment to the soil and their harvesting process. (There should also be info on their website.) 
 
You can also look for the Biodynamic Certification Mark from Demeter, an independent organization for regenerative farming, and the AB (“Agriculture Biologique”) sign for wines from France, and a stamp from the Regulation of the European Commission on European wines. And don’t be afraid to send an email or DM to your favorite wine label, asking for more info about their sustainable agriculture practices!

Is organic wine better for hangovers?

Sorry, but no, organic wine does not reduce hangovers. What can? Anecdotally, we’ve had great success with the “one for one” rule, a.k.a. drinking one glass of water in between every glass of wine. You may need to run to the restroom before you leave the bar, but you’ll wake up feeling a lot better in the morning. And of course, knowing your own limits before drinking wine, or any alcohol, is key. Organic and biodynamic wine is still alcohol, and needs to be respected as such.

Does sustainable wine taste good?

Some sustainable wines taste amazing. Some honestly don't. Just like “regular” wines, finding one that’s sustainably cultivated takes some trial and error, but there are so many on the market that you will absolutely find one (and more likely, dozens) that will totally pop your cork.