Planet-Friendly Wines to Drink On Earth DayToday, wine drinkers who care about the planet and its health can easily find wines that uphold their values.
On April 22, Earth Day will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Back in 1970, the inaugural Earth Day event helped establish the modern environmental movement. And many of the causes that brought people together back then—concern about pesticides use, water conservation, and the loss of natural wildlife habitats—have since gained new supporters and new urgency.
“When the first Earth Day happened, there was an emphasis on personal change at the level of the individual,” says Aaron Sachs, a professor of history at Cornell University. While that emphasis persists today, he says a notable difference between then and now is that environmentalism has expanded to the food industry. “Even in big grocery store chains, you see vegan and organic options where there never used to be.” And these trends have extended into the world of grape farming and winemaking.
Even a decade ago, most wine shops or supermarkets did not stock bottles made with organically farmed grapes or other nature-minded methods. Today, wine drinkers who care about the planet and its health can easily find such options—including, in many states, a broader selection of locally produced wines that come without the environmental drawbacks of long-distance transport.
Consider this guide your Earth Day wine shopping list. Each of the wines on this list is produced using methods—some new, some ancient—that limit their impact on the planet.
2018 Montinore Estate Pinot Gris ($18)
If you’re unfamiliar with biodynamic winemaking, think of it as organic-plus. Grapes are grown without the use of pesticides or other chemicals, but biodynamic producers also eschew the use of sulfites and employ other measures to ensure the vitality and sustainability of their crops. All of Montinore’s wines are certified biodynamic by the non-profit Demeter, one of the world’s leading authorities in biodynamic winemaking. They’re also certified organic. This succulent Pinot Gris is floral and fruit-forward, and packs enough acid to make it a great companion for food. Not many wines at this price can boast such planet-friendly bona fides.
Beckmen Vineyards Purisima Mountain Vineyard Grenache ($50)
California winemaker Steve Beckmen was an early adopter of biodynamic farming practices, and his Purisima Mountain Vineyard in Santa Barbara has been Demeter-certified biodynamic since 2009. This complex Grenache is a soft explosion of dark-red fruit and baking spice.
2017 Shafer TD-9 ($60)
Shafer is one of the most-esteemed names in California winemaking, and its vineyards also rank among the most sustainably farmed in the state. Utilizing cover crops for natural pest management, recycled rainwater for irrigation, and 100% solar power, Shafer’s wines are as planet friendly as they are impressive. The TD-9 is juicy, powerful red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec.
2018 Loimer Lois Grüner Veltliner ($17)
Austrian winemaker Fred Loimer first started employing biodynamic farming principles in 2006 and has since helped found Respekt, an organization that champions natural and Earth-friendly farming and viticulture practices. This fresh, sprightly white is a great pairing for salads and vegetables and will appeal to those who love Sauvignon Blanc.
2018 Domaine Mamaruta Les Tondeuses ($20)
The name of this biodynamically farmed wine translates to “the lawnmowers.” That’s a reference to the French winemaker’s cows, who chip in with weeding and pruning on his Languedoc-Roussillon’s vineyard. This wonderfully fruity, delectably funky natural wine is available from MYSA, an online natural wine shop that sources sustainably farmed, low-intervention wines from all over the world.
2016 Brick House Vineyard Cascadia Chardonnay ($36)
This Willamette Valley producer was one of Oregon’s early proponents of organic farming, and since the early 2000s they’ve adopted biodynamic farming practices. This lovely, clean Chardonnay is decidedly Old World in style, with an emphasis on fruit and acid over oak.
2015 Gamble Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($60)
Third-generation farmer Tom Gamble helped create Napa Valley’s Fish Friendly Farming and Napa Green certification programs, which help ensure that participating winemakers are preserving and protecting wildlife and the habitats that support them. This wine is medium-bodied by Napa Cabernet standards, with soft tannins and plenty of dark fruit.
2017 A.A. Badenhorst Ramnasgras Cinsault ($50)
South Africa is slowly blossoming into a hotspot for natural wine. And Swartland’s Badenhorst is among the vanguard. The winery employs dry farming—basically, no irrigation—coupled with a “biological” approach that’s sort of like a beefed-up version of organic farming. Badenhorst eschews pesticides and focuses on balancing soil nutrients using compost and other natural fertilizers. This spicy, flowery wine is a stunner.
2017 Domaine Michel Magnien Bourgogne Pinot Noir ($30)
It’s hard to find a quality Burgundy Pinot Noir at this price—let alone one that is Demeter biodynamic certified. Aged in used oak barrels and concrete vats, this is a refreshingly clean, fruit-and-earth-driven take on Pinot Noir.
2018 Far Niente Estate Bottled Chardonnay ($80)
One of the leading producers in the Napa Valley, Far Niente couples organic farming practices with some of the most committed sustainable-energy initiatives in the state. Their 2018 Chardonnay is a splurge. But there are few better ways to celebrate Earth Day than with a glass or two of this balanced, thrillingly complex white wine.
By Markham Heid