What can be constituted as "sustainable" growing practices? The term can be somewhat confusing, especially in the wine world. What is sustainable vs organic vs biodynamic as far as vineyard growing practices are concerned?
Organic and biodynamic are good for another post but the short on organic and biodynamic versus sustainable, in a nutshell, boil down to the use of pesticides. Growing sustainably is something every farmer should practice. All farming was organic before the invention of artificial weed and pest control chemicals, obviously. There was no sort of trend or certification involved. Sustainable farming should be mandatory to maintain healthy soil. Makes sense, the healthier you soil, the healthier the crop.
Sustainable should be the minimum of what farmers should practice. The labeling requirements are for sustainable are similar to those for organic and biodydamic. Unfortunately there is enough of an element of dishonesty to warrant the need for certification.
So what are the guidelines for a sustainable certification?
A list of requirements can be found here on the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance's website.
Here are a few of the certification guidelines the California Sustainable Growing Alliance, which oversees vineyard practices specifically requires:
- During vineyard establishment and/or development, some habitat was destroyed but other was created.
- Resident vegetation was allowed to grow without mowing or disking in some non-crop areas.
- Pesticide toxicity to wildlife is considered when choosing pesticides to use in the vineyard And Considerations include timing applications to minimally impact wildlife during their breeding season.
- Aquatic habitats near vineyards are considered in vineyard site selection and management.
- Maintain cover crops appropriate to each vineyard site.