All around the world, people have become more conscious of eating organically, so it makes sense that we’d want to drink organically as well. Just as in the organic food movement, there are a variety of (often overlapping!) ways to classify how a wine has been produced. As wine goes the three most prevalent classifications are:

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Sustainable

All three practices involve different techniques and guidelines as well as certifications, which can all be a little confusing, so we’re going to explain.

Organic Wine

Organic wine is a wine that is made from grapes that were farmed organically. These are grapes that were grown on an organic farm and they receive the same organic farming certification as an organic apple or pear farm. An organic wine is the only type of wine that can actually carry legal certification, so if a wine is organic it will carry the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) organic seal. The USDA approval signifies that the wine is made from 100% organically grown ingredients and has been monitored throughout the entire production process.

Biodynamic Wine

A biodynamic wine goes beyond organic practices in an effort to balance the entire vineyard with nature and the moon cycles. It is based on the writings of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner who believed that the vineyard is one ecosystem that only when in balance can grow the best fruit. Biodynamic farming practices are widely used around the world, but there is no formal certification for them, like there is for organic, so some winemakers choose to simply take the organic seal while others list that the wine was created biodynamically on the bottle.

Sustainable Wine

Sustainable practices are based on farming that is not only good for the environment, but also makes economic sense. This means that a farmer may largely use organic practices, but if some of those practices don’t make economic sense (eg – they’re too expensive), the farmer might skip some of them. Just as with biodynamic wine, there is no formal certification for a wine to be sustainable, but there are several associations that winemakers can join to formally list themselves as a sustainable vineyard.