Organic v Sustainable v Biodynamic

Organic v Sustainable v Biodynamic

Part of the core of Excellar's ethos is sourcing wines that are produced with sustainability in mind. Sustainable wines contain fewer chemicals, which are better for both you and the environment. For many consumers, this is becoming an increasingly important consideration when it comes to what they buy.

Wine sustainability refers to a range of vineyard and wine production practices that are not only ecologically sound but also economically viable and socially responsible. Sustainable farmers may be certified (organic or biodynamic) or non-certified (Lutte Raissonnee).Sustainability also takes into account how “green” a producer may be. This includes energy and water conservation, and the use of renewable resources

In the second half of the 20th century, the use of chemicals increased significantly in order to control pests and diseases and produce a better harvest. The resulting environmental and health effects of this are a big concern to many. Reducing the use of chemicals, therefore, contributes to improving the health of the farmers. It also improves the vines and the greater ecosystem as well. That’s why we care about wine sustainability.


There’s no exact definition for a sustainable wine. However, there are wine classifications that adhere to different levels of practices, which are considered sustainable.

Let’s start with organic. Organic wine means that the grapes used were certified as organically grown. No use of harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilisers. It also means that no additives were used, such as artificial preservatives. You can also get wine which is organically farmed. This means that organic practises have been followed but without formal certification of the vineyard as organic.

Biodynamic builds on organic, extending the ethos to the entire ecosystem around the vineyard. It includes unique methods of treatment of the soil and crops, and the planning of key activities around astrological cycles. It might sound a bit mad but the results certainly speak for themselves! A biodynamic wine is by definition organic, made from grapes that are farmed biodynamically.

Lutte raisonnée, literally “reasoned fight” (in French), or “supervised control” encourages biodiversity in the vineyards through the planting of cover crops, rigorous plowing of the soils, and the use of manures and natural composts to fertilize the vines. Some growers use this as a first step towards full organic farming. Others find it a happy medium between conventional methods and the stricter demands dictated by organic certifying agencies. There is a wide berth of interpretation concerning these methods. Some farmers work through certifying agencies such as Terra Vitis, following a specific set of specifications and requirements. Others farm independently, following organic methodologies, and reserving treatments only when conditions are optimal (for example, when there is no wind). Zoologists have introduced more environmentally-friendly concepts such as integrated pest management, or hormone confusion, which prevents the reproduction of certain pests that may threaten the vines. The reduction of sprays not only contributes to the health of the vines and the greater ecosystem, but also to the health of the winegrowers (who account for the largest percentage of cancer cases among farmers).