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Green wine doesn’t exactly sound very palatable to the average oenophile; however its popularity has grown rapidly around the world. There are many types of ‘Green Wine’ and unless you live in Portugal and are au fait with Vinho Verde (literally green wine) which translates as “young wine” with slight pétillance, ‘green wine’ means that it is cultivated in an environmentally friendly way.

There are organic wines, biodynamic wines and organically grown grapes. All labelled under the umbrella of ‘green’, yet their meanings are very different.

Biodynamic wineries are fast taking a strong hold on viticulture (the science, production and study of grapes). Biodynamic’s in agriculture began in the 1920’s with Rudolph Steiner as its founder. He gave lectures to farmers concerned their crops were failing due to the chemicals used in fertilisation. Steiner’s philosophy is that the farm as a whole is seen as an organism, and therefore should be a largely self-sustaining system, producing its own manure and animal feed. Steiner also suggested timing agricultural activities such as sowing, weeding, and harvesting to utilize the influences on plant growth of the moon and planets. A truly holistic approach. More than 50 countries adopt the practise today.

There is a difference between “Organic” and “Biodynamic”. Organic farming excludes the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and hormones. Biodynamic’s go farther in the sense that it considers a vineyard as a living organism. The soil is not a simple support for the vine but a living environment and a source of energy.

Organically grown grapes can seem like a great choice in the store yet what most people don’t know is that there are some preservatives added later to increase shelf life. It seems dichotomous, however if the farmers have gone to the trouble of growing organic grapes. There is usually only the slightest amount of sulphate added. There is no real way of knowing though, so of course it is best to choose organically produced wine as opposed to grapes.

There are some great wines that fit into the green category that will not break the bank. Below are some examples of wineries that are adopting fantastic techniques that help the earth one small step at a time.

New Zealand’s Yealand’s Estate writes that “Sustainability is at the core of everything we do.” They are powered by solar and wind, and use sheep instead of tractors and pesticides between rows of vines.

Paul Dolan Vineyards are organic and biodynamic. “A sustainable farm should be a whole farm, like a whole person. It must have integrity. It must have a moral centre. It must be connected to its values and the greater world. It must aspire to do what is right, not just for the bottom line, not just from a legal standpoint, but from a moral and ethical standpoint. It’s not only accountable, it’s responsible.”

Benziger Family Winery is embracing the holistic approach. “We follow agricultural, winemaking and business practices that are good for the earth and the vine, good for the farm worker and the farmer, and good for our colleagues and our customers.”

Botobolar’s 22-hectare vineyard established in 1971 is Australia’s oldest certified organic vineyard. The vines have always been grown organically without the use of pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers.

Below are some inexpensive “green wine” choices:

  • Can Vendrell Cava Brut Reserva, Spain
  • Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc, California
  • Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Gris, Oregon
  • Frey Vineyards Syrah, Mendocino
  • Coturri Winery Zinfandel, California
  • Bonterra Vineyards Viognier, Mendocino
  • Grove Mill Savignon Blanc Marlborough , New Zealand
  • Castellare Chianti Classico, Italy
  • Cono Sur Reserve  Riesling Bio Bio, Chile
  • Yalumba, Organic Shiraz Barossa Valley, Australia
  • Backsberg Elbar Paarl, South Africa
  • Los Robles Fairtrade Carmenere, Chile
  • Cullen Ellen Bussell Red Margaret River, Australia
  • Banrock Station Shiraz Mataro, Australia

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