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Organic and Sustainable Winegrowing
"Sustainable" and "Organic" agriculture systems value soil health and biodiversity as integral to growing any crop. Although the terms are not completely interchangeable, both describe an approach to growing that sees the farm or vineyard as a large integrated loop. In this loop, plant, animal, and microbial life, aided by soil and water quality, contribute to the overall health of the environmental and therefore the development and quality of the intended crop.
"Sustainable" agriculture does not entail any official registration or certification, but does connote adherence to its well-developed philosophy of the "triple bottom line." These systems involve producers in conscientiously promoting environmental, economic, and social wellbeing in their operations. See our Overview page for information on the theory of sustainable agriculture.
Sustainability is particularly relevant to the field of winegrowing. Protection of the vineyard's soil and environment can be seen as intrinsic to enhancing terroir. Other benefits of sustainable winegrowing include building consumer interest, vine hardiness, and the foundation for a healthy place to live and work. Many organic/sustainable winegrowers advise that the transition from conventional agriculture be taken slowly, at a pace suited to both the individual grower and vineyard. The Practices page provides introductory information and suggestions for transitioning.
The term "organic," when used on a label or in promotion of a product, refers specifically to the USDA's National Organic Program, which provides the official "organic" certification to food growers, producers, and handlers. Participation in this program requires certain practices and prohibits synthetic chemical inputs. See our Certifications page for more information on these programs.
Buy building organic matter and biodiversity in the vineyard while reducing synthetic chemical inputs, sustainable winegrowing can protect the health of the vines, land, and employees while enhancing the character and quality of the grapes. See our Resources page for books, articles, and online information.