Eco-Friendly: Organic, Biodynamic, Natural - "In The Green Spirit"
With any worthy concept that seizes public attention, there is the opportunity for that to be exploited for commercial reasons. And the laudable practices of organic, biodynamic, sustainable viticulture have indeed become ironically murky waters (isn't it all meant to be about "clean and green"). Can we be sure that the sticker on the bottle claiming "organic" wine actually means anything? As a politician will tell you in this, an election year, well, yes and no..
So let's try and debunk a few myths and demyth a few bunks while we're at it with some simple descriptions.
Organic wines are made from grapes cultivated without the use of synthetic fungicides, herbicides or fertilizers. Essentially, it's all about using nature and her processes without adding anything artificial. Organic wines are regulated through legislation (great!) that varies around the world (dang!) and leads to a variety of different labelling requirements, expressed in terms like "Organically Grown", "Made from Organic grapes" and "Organic wine". If there is a reference to "Organic" on the label you can take it that the grapes have been grown organically, in much the same way that food products are. Biodynamic Winemaking and viticulture relates back to the Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner, taking the view of the vineyards as a living organism, and that the earth, too is a living organism. To keep it all in balance, vinicultural practises should be timed to coincide with the rhythms of the earth. An icon and quality benchmark for Biodynamic winemaking in New Zealand is Millton Vineyards in Gisborne.
Natural Winemaking is more difficult to define, and they like it that way! That doesn't make it any less meritorious; it just can't be certificated in the way Bio-Dynamism can, for example. It's a movement, an approach, a philosophy, partly brought about through the globalisation and homogenisation of wine.