Some Definitions of Progressive Viticulture
“Sustainable,” a current buzzword that can be loosely interpreted, contains some broadly stated objectives: economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally sound winegrowing practices.
These voluntary environmental self-assessment procedures optimize the ecological stability of a vineyard and its productivity and quality by enhancing soil health and reducing pesticides. They can also ultimately enhance a winery’s revenues by trading on the public’s positive impression of sustainable vineyards and by increasing a vineyard’s
A small but growing number of vineyards are going Biodynamic as well as organic. Biodynamic is the method of farming promoted by Austrian scientist, metaphysician and Waldorf School founder Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. Biodynamics considers the energy and interrelationships of the entire vineyard area as well as its connection to earth, the sun, moon, planets and seasons. The soil’s health is paramount and only homeopathic solutions are utilized to energize the soil’s vitality and planetary connections.
Organic Vineyards and Wine
Increasing numbers of Italian wineries are looking more seriously at organic grape growing. Certified “organic wine” in Italy is defined as "a wine made from organically grown grapes.” No chemicals are used in the vineyard—no chemical fertilizers, weed killers or insecticides. Only elemental sulfur, which is organic itself and is used to prevent powdery mildew in the fields, is allowed. In the US a new restriction stipulates that an “Organic Wine” is a wine with no added sulfites.
In the cellar "organic" suggests minimal processing and no use of chemical additives. Organic winemakers pay particular attention to three factors: the use of yeasts, the filtration/fining method, and the use of sulfur dioxide. The need for cultured yeasts in organic winemaking is reduced by the farming practice itself as wild yeasts aren’t eliminated by weed killers or insecticides. While most organic wineries plant a mixture of grasses and legumes to enrich the soil with nutrients, particularly nitrogen, very few rely solely on the yeasts naturally present on the grapes and in the cellars to ferment the must into wine. They also add a specific strain of cultured yeasts that guarantee smooth, predictable fermentation. The physical treatment of the wine (like filtering and fining) is kept to a minimum. However temperature control during the winemaking process is widely used.
Organic Viticulture in Europe: Development and current statistics. Helga Willer. Paper presented at Organic wine and viticulture conference, Levizzano near Modena, Italy, June 16 and 17, 2008.
The Sustainability Revolution: Portrait of a Paradigm Shift. Andres R. Edwards, David Orr.