A Guide to Sustainable Practices & Eco-friendliness in Winemaking

19% of Millennials and 23% of Gen Z look for sustainable practices of a brand very often and it directly impacts their purchasing decision.

This emerging consumer habit has a similar impact on the wine industry where wine lovers are seen hopping on the healthier, earth-friendlier, better alternative to regular wines.

Wine, considered the nectar of Gods by its lovers, requires a lot of resources to produce, which builds on our curiosity to find out how winemakers around the world are blending sustainability and deliciousness.

But it’s not all just serious business! It’s interesting to know, trust us. Did you know:

  • Some wineries even use sheep to mow the grass between the vines.
  • The first wine bottle made from the recycled glass was launched in 2008.

So, welcome wine lovers, nature enthusiasts, and eco-warriors to our guide on sustainable practices and eco-friendliness in winemaking where we merge your love with wine and sustainability.

We’ll walk you through the innovative methods the wine giants use to cultivate grapes, how they are revolutionizing packaging to make it more sustainable, types of sustainable wines, sustainable wine certifications, and much more.

This is gonna be a long one, so, grab a glass of your favorite wine and join us to explore sustainable practices in winemaking. Let’s raise a glass to Mother Nature and celebrate the delicious, sustainable, and guilt-free wine of the future!

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Environmental impact of wine

The wine industry, while often considered a low-emitting sector, still has a notable impact on the environment. While coffee and meat are commonly recognized for their environmental impact, the impact of wine may not come to mind as quickly.

The activities involved in vineyard and winery practices, such as land use and the use of toxic chemicals like pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, can negatively impact biodiversity, contaminate the air, and impact soil health.

When we talk about wine and sustainability, Water also plays a significant role. It is required for irrigation and cleaning of equipment. The process of alcoholic fermentation necessary to make wine generates carbon dioxide and contributes to the industry’s carbon footprint.

In addition, everyday operations such as heating, ventilation, and lighting also add to the industry’s carbon footprint.

The wine industry’s largest impact on the environment comes from packaging and distribution, with the transportation method having a greater impact than the distance traveled. Glass bottles, while more recyclable and reusable than cartons or plastic, contribute more to carbon emissions during transportation due to their weight. The production of glass is also energy-intensive.

Furthermore, the concept of organic wines and other sustainable wines is also backed by consumption as it plays a role in the environmental impact of wine, including how bottles and non-recyclable or non-reusable components such as corks, labels, and foils are disposed of.

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Winemaking and sustainability

Winemakers and consumers alike are making efforts to reduce the environmental impact of winemaking. This involves adopting eco-friendly and sustainable practices to counter the effects of climate change and minimize harm to the environment.

Along with consumer demand for greener options, winemakers also have a vested interest in implementing sustainable practices due to the industry’s vulnerability to climate change caused by human activities.

Some brief sustainable practices include conserving water and energy, avoiding the use of harmful chemicals, and protecting the land.

In addition to protecting the environment, sustainable winemaking also prioritizes the well-being of employees and surrounding communities, emphasizing the importance of fair and responsible social practices in sustainability efforts.


How it all started?

The concept of sustainability in wine-making has been around for centuries, as vineyards have always relied on the natural environment to produce grapes and create wine. However, the modern movement towards sustainable practices began in the 1970s and 1980s, when concerns about the environmental impact of agriculture and wine-making began to grow.

One of the earliest examples of wine and sustainability can be traced back to the 1960s in California when a group of farmers began experimenting with organic farming practices. This eventually led to the creation of the first certified organic winery in the United States, Frey Vineyards, in 1980.

In the 1990s, the sustainability movement gained momentum as winemakers around the world began to adopt more environmentally friendly practices. This included reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers, implementing water conservation measures, and reducing energy consumption.

In 2004, a group of winemakers in California formed the Wine Institute’s California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, which established a set of best practices for sustainable winemaking. This included guidelines for water management, soil conservation, and energy efficiency.

Since then, many other wine regions around the world have established their own programs for wine and sustainability, including the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand program, the Sustainable Wine South Africa program, and the European Union’s Organic Farming and Wine Production program and have been certifying sustainable wines of all types, be it red, white, or sparkling.

How is sustainability used in winemaking?

Winegrowers around the world are embracing sustainable practices, working in harmony with the land to create healthy environments for vines, birds, insects, and other creatures. And as you uncork that bottle of wine, take a moment to appreciate the stunning landscapes and thriving ecosystems that helped create it.

These winegrowers are like artists, crafting a masterpiece with every sip. They sow cover crops, create wildlife corridors, and use natural mulch and biocontrol plants, all in an effort to reduce or eliminate the need for harmful chemicals. They’re not just making wine; they’re creating an oasis that nourishes life in all its forms.

From the rolling hills of Italy to the sun-drenched vineyards of Chile, sustainability is becoming a hallmark of wine-making. Some regions have even gained worldwide recognition for their commitment to sustainability, like the picturesque Porto region in Portugal or the otherworldly Canary Islands in Spain.

But wine and sustainability aren’t just a buzzword in the vineyards. Efforts are being made to reduce the environmental impact of wine packaging and distribution, too. Imagine the possibilities: transporting wine in bulk in gleaming stainless-steel containers, then bottling it close to home. The result is not just a more environmentally-friendly wine, but a more delicious one, too.

Why are sustainable practices important in winemaking?

Sustainability is important in winemaking for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, winemaking is a resource-intensive industry that relies heavily on agriculture, water, energy, and packaging materials. The excessive use of these resources can lead to environmental degradation, which can ultimately harm the ecosystem and the wine industry itself.

Secondly, sustainability in winemaking also has economic benefits. By minimizing their use of resources, winemakers can reduce their operating costs, which can lead to increased profitability in the long run.

Furthermore, sustainable practices in winemaking can help winemakers meet the demands of increasingly environmentally conscious consumers, who are willing to pay a premium for sustainably produced wines.

Finally, sustainability in winemaking is important for the preservation of the industry itself. Climate change, deforestation, and other environmental issues threaten the long-term viability of the wine industry, making it crucial for winemakers to adopt sustainable practices and produce options like organic wines and other similar options.

What are the types of sustainable wine?

The three types of sustainable wine are organic wines, biodynamic wines, and natural wines, each with its unique approach to grape growing and winemaking. Let’s see what is what…

Organic Wine

Organic wine is produced using grapes grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Instead, organic grape growers use natural methods, such as cover crops, crop rotation, and beneficial insects, to control pests and enhance soil fertility. Organic wine also prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and preservatives. Organic wine may or may not be certified, depending on the certification requirements of the country.

Biodynamic Wine

Biodynamic wine is a type of organic wine that goes beyond the absence of synthetic inputs. Biodynamic grape growers view the vineyard as a holistic system and use a range of techniques to promote soil health, enhance biodiversity, and achieve a balance between the vineyard and its surrounding environment. Biodynamic wine also involves the use of biodynamic preparations, which are made from natural substances and applied to the soil, plants, and compost. These preparations are believed to stimulate the soil and enhance the quality of the grapes.

Natural Wine

Natural wine in Singapore is produced using minimal intervention in the winemaking process. Natural wine producers use only natural yeasts, which are found on the grape skins, and avoid adding any chemical additives or processing aids. The result is a wine that is more expressive of the grape variety and the terroir. Natural wine can be made from grapes that are organically or biodynamically grown, but the focus is on the winemaking process rather than farming practices.

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Sustainable wine certifications

There are several sustainable wine certifications available that allow wineries to demonstrate their commitment to environmentally responsible and socially equitable practices. Some of the most widely recognized sustainable wine certifications include:

1. Certified Sustainable Winegrowing (CSWA):

The CSWA program, developed by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, is based on a set of best practices for grape growers and winemakers. The program covers a range of sustainability topics, including water and energy conservation, ecosystem management, and social responsibility.

2. Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ):

SWNZ is a voluntary certification program that focuses on environmental, social, and economic sustainability in the New Zealand wine industry. The program covers a range of topics, including water and energy use, waste management, and biodiversity conservation.

3. Fairtrade:

Fairtrade certification ensures that farmers and workers are paid fair prices for their products and have access to social and economic benefits such as education and healthcare. Several wineries around the world have Fairtrade certification for their wines.

4. Demeter Biodynamic Certification:

Biodynamic farming is a holistic approach that seeks to integrate the physical, biological, and spiritual aspects of agriculture. Demeter certification is based on a set of biodynamic principles that guide vineyard management practices, such as composting, cover cropping, and lunar planting cycles.

These certifications can help consumers identify if the bottle is of organic wine, natural wine, or other sustainable wines. However, it is important to note that not all sustainable wineries seek certification, and some smaller wineries may follow sustainable practices without seeking formal certification.

Popular sustainable wine brands

1. The Benziger Family Winery

The Benziger Family Winery has been committed to using eco-friendly growing techniques since 2006 and is one of the most popular sustainable wine brands. Their wines are either certified organic, sustainable, biodynamic, or a combination of these practices, and they prioritize environmentally-conscious methods such as soil rejuvenation, biodiversity, and integrated pest management. Moreover, all four of their wine estates are certified biodynamic by Demeter, and they employ top-level organic farming practices to craft their wines.

2. Silver Oak

is a wine label that places a strong emphasis on sustainability. The main wineries located in Napa Valley and Alexander Valley have received the prestigious LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certification. The Alexander Valley site also holds the distinction of being the first manufacturing facility to obtain Living Building status from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). Since 1972, Silver Oak has been crafting a California Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged in American oak barrels. 

3. Paxton Wines

Paxton Wines is a well-known sustainable wine brand that produces high-quality, organic, and biodynamic wines in McLaren Vale, South Australia. Paxton’s philosophy is centered on sustainability and eco-friendliness, which is reflected in their farming practices. They use biodynamic and organic methods to cultivate their grapes, which involves working with the natural rhythms and cycles of the earth, using compost and other natural preparations instead of chemicals. In addition to its commitment to sustainability, Paxton also supports various environmental and social causes, such as planting native vegetation to protect wildlife and working with local communities to promote sustainable living.

Is sustainable wine healthier?

Sustainable wine is not necessarily healthier in terms of its impact on human health.

While sustainable wine does not directly affect human health, some organic wines and biodynamic farming practices used in sustainable wine production may result in fewer chemical residues in the wine, which could potentially reduce exposure to harmful chemicals.

It is important to note that regardless of the sustainability of the wine, moderate consumption is key to enjoying the potential health benefits of wine. Excessive consumption of any type of wine can have negative health consequences.

Cheers to sustainability!

The concept of sustainability and eco-friendliness in the winemaking industry has been an oozing concept these days which is being equally loved by both the drinkers and the makers.

If you are looking for some really great sustainable wine options, here’s some good news for you. You can now buy wine online with the most convenient and affordable wine delivery in Singapore by Benchmark Wines. Being a popular online system of wine delivery in Singapore, Benchmark Wines lets you earn 30 reward points on sign-up and offers $30 OFF your first order.

Further reading – A Complete Guide to the Types of Wines

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