Green Wine Labels -- What do They Mean?

by Sharon Charny

Reading a wine label can be confusing enough and now we are seeing terms being used to describe how ‘green’ a wine is! Here are explanations of some of the terms you might find on a ‘green’ wine label:

"certified organic"

To be labeled "CO" and bear the USDA seal the wine must be made from at least 95% Organic ingredients free from chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides & herbicides. A wine in this category cannot have any added sulfites.

"made from organically grown grapes"

A wine in this category must be made with at least 70% organic ingredients, must have organic certification in the winery & the vineyard by an approved 3rd party certifier. A wine in this category may have contain added sulfites (under 100 parts per million).


This is the only internationally recognized farming practice and certification. This farming method follows the philosophy of an Austrian scientist, Rudolph Steiner, in the 1920’s. The emphasis is guided by natures cycles and based on the co-existence of plants & animals within living nature and on the health of the vineyard as a whole. Foods grown by biodynamic methods are certified by the Demeter Association.


In the U.S. there are no legal guidelines.

Set up for the definition of sustainable farming. The primary premise of sustainability is to protect the environment & it’s natural resource base to preserve it for future generations. There is a Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices established by the non-profit California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance which many wineries are member.

Here are some green wine labels to get familiar with:

Bonterra Vineyards
Red Truck Wine
Casa Lapostolle
Domaine Ehrhart

Article submitted by: Sharon Charny

Sharon is the Regional Director, National Accounts Certified Training Coordinator for Charmer Sunbelt Group


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