Wine + Sustainability with Elizabeth: Volume 9

A new year, a new decade, a new beginning. Resolutions or not, this is a time of collective reflection; to set forth to achieve new goals in the months to come. And I found it fitting to reflect on what has changed in wine sustainability and where the future might be headed.

In 2019, wine consumers have expressed a higher interest in wine produced sustainably, even more so than that of organic wine. Why? And what does that mean?

While I previously discussed the differences between Organic and Sustainable wine, in a nutshell, Certified Organic wine is an official government-sponsored certification. Sustainable production and certification are not and is often a grouping of private businesses. Sustainability is also an agricultural philosophy that aims to take protective farming measures to reduce environmental damage. These philosophies can be further extended to natural and biodynamic wines.

This higher interest in these types of wines appear to be a result of a cultural shift by the younger generation. Those under the age of 45 are more likely to practice socially, environmentally and economically responsible habits. But even though we are seeing more consumers with an interest in this category of wine, that doesn’t always go hand in hand with awareness and education. But rather a growing need for quick and visual cues that identify sustainability.

Every year we are seeing more and more regions, growers and producers talking about their viticulture philosophy or adapt sustainable, biodynamic and natural practices. With “certifications” for sustainability varying from country to country, and the processes themselves still evolving, there may not be anything listed on a wine label to indicate that a wine falls under one of these categories.

Over the years, and much more recently, we have seen an increased interest in these types of wines. To make it easier to navigate our shelves, we have since 2007 (earlier?) added a ladybug icon to our tags to indicate any wine that falls under one of these categories. The ladybug was specifically chosen, as it is a known beneficiary to farmers across the globe because of their appetite.  Preying on plant-eaters, and not plants themselves, Ladybugs can consume more than their body weight in a day of aphids and other plant-eating pests.

A vineyard’s sustainable philosophy, or lack thereof, is not something that we are usually presented with during our tasting/approval process. And when considering the product that ends up on our shelves, we continue strive to bring you the best wine we can find at the best prices. The benefit of working with and seeking out producers who are on a smaller production scale, are that these vineyards have typically been passed down from generation to generation – and those agriculture traditions usually fall in line with what it means today to be under the “Sustainable Umbrella.” Through our own interest to seek out that information about the wines we carry, we continue to use our ladybug icon to highlight those wines in our portfolio as a quick and easy way to communicate additional knowledge about our products.