|Organic, Biodynamic and Sustainable Eco Wines, Part 4: Certified Sustainable Wine|
|Tuesday, 08 October 2013 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
The “sustainable” wine certification is vital in the larger picture of what eco-conscious winemaking is all about. Yet this certification is by far the least organized internationally—and the most intangible to the wine aficionado.
While both the “organic” and “biodynamic” wine certifications concentrate on soil and plants (the former on what we don’t do to them and the latter on what we do), the sustainable wine certification has a wider focus. It evaluates not only a winery’s ecological sustainability, but also its social sustainability.
With certification points for business practices, energy efficiency, social responsibility, clean water management and more, the sustainable certification is a flexible point system that may mean one thing to one winery and something else entirely to another. But what it does mean to all of its certified vintners is that they are making a notable and quantifiable effort to improve culture, environment and commerce through their business model.
For example, Ampelos Cellars of Lompoc, CA, is recognized with the Sustainability in Practice (SIP™) Sustainable Vineyard Certification, for powering their home and vineyard with 100% solar power, offering English as a Second Language classes to employees and shipping private wine sales in 100% recycled newspaper pulp inserts. In fact, Ampelos Cellars is the only vineyard I know of that is certified organic, biodynamic and sustainable.
Agencies accrediting the sustainable wine certification are mostly regional, like California’s Sustainability in Practice (SIP™) and Napa Green, and Oregon’s Low Input Viticulture and Enology (LIVE). They are born of a desire for recognition and encouragement within a wine-producing community—with the added bonus to tasters that something, even if we are unclear as to exactly what, is being done by our winemakers to practice sustainable business.
After a conversation about a city notice we received regarding how the mandated environmental cleanup of the local dry cleaner would impact our immediate air quality, my wonderful next-door neighbor said to me, “You are obsessive about health.” To which I responded, “No, just educated.”
I don’t sit up at night devising ways to restructure my drinking water or worrying that the city dogs might have peed on my tomato plants. But I do find enthralling the topic of how my well-being can be enhanced. I mean, is there any more riveting a subject? How can my life get even better? How can I love myself more? How can I take better care of the people around me?
I wish it were all altruistic, but let’s face it— like anyone else, I just wanna feel good. I wish to be healthy and happy and free. I wish to laugh a lot and make love often. So when I gather information and experience on winegrowing and business practices, it’s not to avoid something “bad” finding its way into my world, but to get a kick out of focusing my time and energy on things that make me feel better. Things that keep my mind healthfully entertained. Things that fill my wine with more than just a vanilla melon nose and a quick, mineral finish.
My education allows me to get more out of wine—and out of life. Of course, in the end, it’s what I do with my education that matters. I feel the only way I can make conscious choices is to have an education. After all, I can eat/drink/think/do anything I want. But I choose to do it a way that feels good.
Continue to Part 5: The 'Fish Friendly Farming' Wine Certification
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