These three words seem to be everywhere in the wine world, with some growers decrying the shortcomings of organic farming while others call disciples of biodynamics complete loons. The truth is, all three are based around the same basic tenets - respect for the health of both the environment and the final consumer. Our government regulates the use of the term ‘organic’, so we can have wines made with organically grown grapes, or go a step further and make organic wine with those grapes, adding no chemicals or sulfites in the vinification process. So by organic, we basically mean a broad umbrella term that indicates no synthetic chemicals, pesticides, or additives have come into contact with the finished product. Sustainable branches out to include the economic viability and social responsibility of the farm. Sustainable growing operations may conserve a portion of their land for wildlife preservation, or focus on water conservation and use of renewable energy resources. There are a plethora of sustainability certifications that wineries can seek out -- LEED, LIVE, SIP, Demeter, and Lodi Rules, just to name a few! This brings us to perhaps the most peculiar of the three terms, but one that has gained a fair amount of traction in the last several decades -- Biodynamics. This system also prevents the use of synthetic pesticides and chemicals, but it goes further. A biodynamic winery sees the vineyards as only one part in a local ecosystem, and strives to treat the entire farm as a living organism, factoring in lunar cycles and astrological influences on the spirit of the entire place. It is a holistic, ethically-conscious way of growing plants or raising animals, and fosters a greater awareness of the environment’s response to specific human actions.
If you’re interested in learning more, or want to know if your favorite wine meets any of these three qualifications, check out the winery’s website -- they’ll often have a page dedicated to explaining what they’re doing to be environmentally conscious! You can also come by the shop and grab a bottle of Chateau Falfas’ “Les Demoiselles de Falfas”, which is all three - organic, sustainable, and biodynamic! A blend of 75% Merlot, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Cotes de Bourg in Bordeaux, this wine shows intense blackberry and baking spice on the nose, while remaining herbaceous and vibrant on the palate.