Planet of the Grapes: Eco-Friendly Drinking

Our editors explore the tastiest environmentally friendly wine, beer and spirit options on the market.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden

With the farm-to-table movement still picking up steam by the day, environmentally healthy practices have resonated with consumers not just for the benefits to the Earth, but for an increase in quality and flavor.

What have we learned? That what’s good for the planet is also good for your palate.

The editors of Wine Enthusiast have rounded up a list of our favorite environmental-friendly wines, beers and spirits for you to take a second (or first) look at. Let today’s happy-hour drinks make you feel good in more ways than one.

Domaine Le Conte des Floris, Languedoc

Located in the heart of Pézenas, within the Coteaux du Languedoc, lies this small, Ecocert-certified cellar that has produced stellar wines since 2000. All of the vineyards are worked without the use of pesticides, herbicides or fertilizer, and the vinifications are done as naturally as possible, with indigenous yeasts and a very moderate use of sulfur. “The essence of our work, trying to intervene as little as possible in the vineyard and in the winery, is to better express our terroirs,” notes Owner and Winemaker Daniel Le Conte des Floris. The resulting wines are indeed fantastically pure and wonderfully expressive of the Languedoc, boasting ripe-fruit characteristics that are balanced by natural acidity and approachable yet present structures. —Lauren Buzzeo, Senior Editor & Tasting Director

Peter Jakob Kühn 2013 Oestrich Doosberg Trocken GG Riesling Rheingau

You can taste the connection with the terroir and the nuances biodynamic practices impart in Kühn wines. This one in particular is ultra- concentrated with honey and chamomile and is equally complex and elegant. Picture basking in a field with sun reflecting off the Rhine—the Doosberg will take you there. —Carrie Dykes, Assistant Tasting Coordinator

New Belgium Brewing Company, Colorado

New Belgium Fat Tire
Photo via New Belgium / Facebook

New Belgium has been on the forefront of environmentally-friendly brewing since its inception in 1991. Using a unique science-based metrics system to track their environmental impact, 99.9% of its waste is diverted from landfills and their water usage per barrel of beer is less than half the industry average. As part of the Brewers for Clean Water campaign New Belgium has devoted large sums to restore local waterways, and for its health (and environmentally) conscious workers, provides bonuses for employees who bike to work. A solid Wine Enthusiast rating of 93 points for its Ranger IPA helps round out all the things this brewery is doing right.

In 2013, after CEO and co-founder Kim Jordan sold off her stake in the company to the employee stock ownership program, the brewery also broke economic barriers by becoming 100% employee owned. —Dylan Garret, Assistant Digital Editor

Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Okanagan Valley

Organic winemaking practices have been an integral part of Summerhill since the Kelowna vineyard—located in Okanagan Valley, British Columbia—was purchased by the Cipes family in 1986. Committed to producing 100% organic wine, they earned their first organic winemaking certificate in 2007, and in 2012 received a Demeter Biodynamic certification. Since then, they’ve focused on all-natural production, allowing grapes to ferment naturally and finish in their Pyramid Cellar, built to align with the stars.

Need somewhere to start? Try the Summerhill Pyramid 2007 Pinot Noir. —Marina Vataj, Digital Editorial Manager

Guide to Green Wine

Domaine Grosbois Chinon Clos du Noyer 2012, Loire Valley

I can never get enough Loire Valley Cabernet Franc and this was a standout wine at Vivent Les Vins Libres, a natural wine tasting held in New York earlier this year. Though this Chinon provides plenty of immediate gratification, stash some bottles away and reap the rewards of your patience. —Jameson Fink, Senior Editor

Domaine Yves Leccia, Corsica

This winery has been in a certified organic conversion with Ecocert since 2013, with full certification in 2016. Yves Leccia is a firm believer in the idea that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself, so he tends to his vines alone and works the cellar by himself. Try the outstandingly pure and refreshing 2015 Patrimonio Blanco, made from 100% Vermentino sourced from vineyards on the winery’s unique “E Croce” terroir, which faces the gulf of St. Florent and sits on a thin chalk soil above thick bedrock of pure schist. The 2013 Patrimonio Rouge, made predominantly from Corsica’s traditional Nielluciu grape, is bold and dense, with concentrated notes of blackberry, cassis and licorice. —L.B.

WhistlePig Rye Whiskey, Vermont

WhistlePig Rye Whiskey
Photo by WickedVT / flickr

With the popular renaissance of American rye whiskey showing no signs of stopping (sales of rye whiskey have increased over 500% since 2010), it’s hard to argue WhistlePig’s place in the upper echelon of quality craft whiskey producers.

What some may not know are the sustainable practices of this unique eco-friendly farm and distillery in rural Vermont. The hardy nature of rye makes it the perfect winter crop for the state’s northern climate and its dense growing nature allows for a minimal use of chemical herbicides. Strictly non-GMO, WhistlePig’s sustainable practices and fantastic flavor (Wine Enthusiast’s Kara Newman gave it an exceptional 96 points) shows how environmentally conscious practices, in addition to being better for our planet, can also lead to a more delicious product. —D.G.

Reyneke Wines, Stellenbosch

Johan Reyneke, Jr. founded the Reyneke label in 1998 on his family’s Stellenbosch-based farm, and is currently one of South Africa’s key biodynamic winemakers, leading the way with high-scoring, consistently well-made wines. It’s hard not to drink the bio-Kool-Aid when you hear the impassioned Reyneke speak about how he treats his vineyards and respects his wines, but even if you manage to avoid being swayed by his hipster-surfer-dude vibe, the wines truly speak for themselves in their beautifully pure expressions and overall outstanding quality. —L.B.

Bonus: A Visit to Reyneke—Biodynamic, Immersive, Unforgettable

Published on April 22, 2016
Topics: Biodynamic, Organic, Sustainable

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