Drinking Healthy? What Does “Organic,” “Sustainable,” and “Biodynamic”

Mean on my Bottle of Wine?

We all want to eat healthy, but can we also drink healthy? When we see terms like “organic” on a bottle of wine, that means the bottle must be healthier than a non-organic bottle of wine, right? And just what the heck does “biodynamic” mean? The team at the Lake Geneva Festival of Wine is here to clear up some of these confusing labels for you and let you decide which bottle of wine should be the next one you enjoy. Here is some clarification on five phrases you may find on your next bottle of wine!


When a bottle of wine says that it is organic wine, that means the bottle is produced according to government standards for organic wine production. The grapes used must be produced without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers AND the wine must be made without added sulfites. There will still be naturally occurring sulfites in the wine, so an organic wine isn’t necessarily a sulfite free wine!


Much more common than organic wine is wine made from organic grapes. Wine made from organic grapes uses organically grown grapes in the production process, just like an organic wine. However, wines that are labeled “made from organic grapes” and not “organic wine” will use added sulfur in the wine production process. This allows the winemaker to better control what’s inside the wine for long term stability.



Biodynamic wines are wines produced following the biodynamic farming system. The biodynamic farming system is similar to organic farming, but goes even further. Instead of just prohibiting the use of synthetic products, biodynamic farming focuses on viewing the vineyard as an entire mini-ecosystem. The winemaker and vintner work together to create an ideal microbial environment in the vineyard so that things like yeast additions don’t need to happen in the wine making process.


The term “sustainable” is unregulated and the meaning of the term varies from winery to winery. Some wineries use internal sustainability programs focused on using less water in the wine production process or on conserving energy. Some wineries obtain external certifications that show a commitment to environmental or community sustainability. Some certifications to look for include:

• SIP Certified –Sustainability in Practice, a California certification.

• Napa Green Certified – a Napa Valley environmental certification program for both vineyards and wineries.

• Salmon Safe – a program in the Pacific Northwest to prevent winery practices from harming native salmon populations.


Dry farmed wines are wines that are made without human added irrigation. While it is common to have irrigation systems installed to help protect from drought and make certain styles of wine, other vintners have decided to let their vines grow with only rain provided by nature. This decision encourages grape vine roots to grow deeper in search for moisture and creates what is frequently considered a more restrained style of wine.