People started growing green wine long before the word “sustainable” entered our collective vocabulary. As recently as 100 years ago, wine was grown without pesticides, additives or preservatives. When growers discovered chemical aids, the industry changed dramatically. Nowadays, the chemical trend is reversing itself, and green wines are booming. In California, the nation’s biggest producer of organic and biodynamic wine, sustainable practices grew by 24% between 2004 and 2006—a trend that continues to gain traction worldwide.
The phrase “green wine” encompasses a range of sustainable practices, from growing organic grapes to using insects as pest control. Upcoming industry standards will define the term more precisely: The Wine Institute, a California-based wine advocacy organization whose influence extends throughout the world, is working together with the California government to formulate a Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices for the state. Their two-pronged approach combines free sustainability workshops for winegrowers with an industry-wide scientific study that monitors guideline adoption. Eventually, the Institute will establish “voluntary standards of sustainable practices…for the whole wine community.”
But does the stuff taste good? The answer is a resounding yes. Green wines are said to have a stronger terroir than conventional varieties. “Some feel that organic wines…taste more flavorful and ‘cleaner,'” says The Organic Wine Company’s Veronique Raskin. Combine that with the health benefits, and you’ll realize why green notes might be the next big thing.
Below is a partial list of green wines. For ratings and reviews on these and others, visit www.winemag.com/buyingguide.
Joseph Phelps, Napa Valley, CA
Shafer, Napa Valley, CA
Chapoutier, Hermitage region of France
Frog’s Leap, Napa Valley, CA
Staglin, Various locations, CA
Bonterra, Mendocino, CA
Moon Mountain Vineyards, Sonoma, CA
Fetzer, Various locations, CA
Benziger, Sonoma County, CA
Frey, Redwood Valley, CA