A huge part of traveling is exploring the local gastronomic delights of each place you visit. For many, this includes wine. With roughly 32 billion bottles produced every year, wine has become so popular that wine tourism has made vineyards a favorite travel destination. Not all wine is created equally however. In recent years, the wine conversation has begun to focus around natural wine. Now those who seek a great bottle of wine or an afternoon of wine tasting, are also looking for a sustainable winery to enjoy.
For sustainable travelers, choosing sustainable wineries is a great way to enjoy wine tourism responsibly. Finding a sustainable winery on the other hand, can prove complicated when wineries are quick to label themselves as “natural” while lacking the credentials.
In this article we’ll break down what a sustainable winery is, the terms and certifications to look for, how to find one, and our favorite eco-friendly vineyards to visit around the world.
What is a Sustainable Winery?
To first understand what a sustainable winery is, we need to understand what is sustainable wine. The most common terms used to describe eco-friendly wine, and what to look for, are:
Organic Wine: Organic wineries produce organic certified wine regulated and certified by their local standards. In the United States an organic winery would be USDA organic certified or in Canada, it would be CFIA certified. These national standards around the world mean that there are no pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or chemicals added at any point during production. There are also no unnatural additives, sulfites, preservatives or GMO’s added to the wine. Because there are no sulfates however, organic certified wines have a much shorter shelf life.
Sustainable Wine: Certified sustainable wines take into account both the environment and social responsibility. This means that the winery’s production process does not negatively impact the people or the ecosystem in which it operates. This means they may focus on biodiversity, solar power, recycling and reducing waste, and economic benefits for the local community throughout the production of wine. Sustainable wine does not mean the wine is organic however, unless this is clearly stated, so it may still contain additives.
Biodynamic Wine: Biodynamic certified wines are the “creme de la creme” of eco-friendly wines. They have everything that organic wines have and more. Biodynamic wines take into consideration the entire ecosystem when being grown. This means that the grapes are grown in the healthiest soil possible and are planted according to the natural lunar cycles. Biodynamic wines also have a shorter shelf life.
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How to Find Sustainable Wineries While Traveling
If your wine contains any of the above certifications you can trust that it is eco-friendly in one way or another. If a vineyard claims to be “natural,” or “sustainable” but has no credentials or clearly laid out sustainability practices, then they are most likely greenwashing.
When looking for sustainable wineries throughout the world, you should first look for local sustainable, eco certifications or accreditations that can verify the wineries’ production methods.
One thing to keep in mind however is that certifications vary around the world. Sustainable, organic, eco-friendly wine is a newer concept. Many traditional wineries around the world may use sustainable practices but not be certified just yet or there may not be a certification available in their country.
A general rule is that if a vineyard is making extra efforts to be sustainable or environmentally friendly, they will probably advertise it. This makes finding sustainable wineries while traveling as easy as a quick google search and vetting their website.
Another easy way to locate a sustainable winery in your destination is to go to the certifying parties website, like SIP Certified or SWC Certified, and use their own database for a full list of their accredited wineries.
8 Fantastic Eco-friendly Vineyards Around the World
Below we cover our top choices for eco-friendly vineyards to visit throughout the world. We’ve made sure to include sustainable vineyards in the top wine producing countries. These regions can make the most impact on the wine industry if there is enough demand for sustainable wines. We’ve also included a few lesser known wine regions for wine tourism that are worth exploring.
Montinore Estate, Tualatin Valley, Oregon
While most travelers flock to Northern California to seek the most famous vineyards in America, few realize the fantastic wine that awaits them in Oregon, just one state north.
The second largest certified producer of biodynamic estate wines in the United States, Montinore Estate is not to be missed. Montinore Estate is a top choice for those who want to experience a renowned sustainable winery, a gorgeous setting and a great base to see other adventures in the area.
Roughly an hour outside of Portland, OR, Montinore is easy to get to yet off the beaten tourist path. The vineyard is on a sprawling 200 acres with a focus on Pinot Noir production, which is something Oregon wineries are particularly known for.
You can visit the estate for wine tastings. Reserve in advance here.
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Hagafen Cellars, Napa Valley, California
California wine country is one of the most famous wine regions in the world. Napa has also led the way when it comes to sustainable US wineries with its own Napa Green winery certification. This sustainability program helps restore the Napa River watershed, reduce waste, water and energy usage, as well as help support the local community.
When it comes to finding an organic winery in Napa, you have a lot of options but Hagafen Cellars is a must see. Slightly outside of the heart of the region, this certified organic winery in Napa meets all three of the different Napa Green certifications- soil to bottle certified, Napa Green Winery and Green land certified.
Hagafen takes pains to reduce their carbon footprint through solar power, recycled products and sustainable farming practices. Plus, they have certified bee safe and fish safe farming practices.
When you visit, you can access their EV charging station. As far as California organic wineries go, they rank pretty high. You can reserve your tastings here.
Tasca d’Almerita, Sicily, Italy
Not only is Italy beautiful, but its abundant wineries produce some of the best wine in the world. Sicily is one of the most famous regions in Italy’s wine country and there are now plenty of sustainable wineries there to enjoy. A visit to Tasca d’Almerita vineyards is pretty hard to beat.
With over five estates to choose from, you can make up your own Sicily wine tour and still only try Tasca d’Almerita wines. Each family run sustainable winery introduces you to its own unique wines and a different part of Sicily.
The wines are sustainably farmed, using manual production techniques and no added chemicals. They are SOStain certified, Sicily’s sustainable wine credential, as well as VIVA certified, Italy’s sustainable winery accreditation.
That’s not all – they also serve delicious authentic Italian cuisine onsite with ingredients from their own vegetable garden.
Not only is the wine fantastic and sustainable, but the estates themselves are stunning; with views of the Mediterranean Sea, and the same volcano whose soil is used to produce their wine. At Tasca d’Almerita you’re not only exploring the beauty of Sicily, you’re literally drinking it. It’s sustainable wine tourism at its best.
To book a wine tasting or wine tour at one of their estates, click here.
Interested in visiting the Tuscany wine region instead? Check out this sustainable wine trek in Florence.
Symington Family Estates, Douro Valley, Portugal
There are few wine regions in the world I personally love more than Portugal. Not only does Portugal produce the famous vinho verde (green wine), but they are also leading the way in sustainable wine production. More specifically, Porto is leading the way.
Within the Douro Wine Region of Porto you can find numerous eco-friendly wineries producing some of the best sustainable Portuguese wine around. One notable sustainable winery in the region is Symington Family Estates, a certified B Corp.
This family run vineyard has eight different sustainable wineries to visit throughout the Douro Valley. With some vineyards dating back to the 18th century, Symington Family estates has a few organic vineyards and utilizes sustainable production methods throughout each winery.
They support the local ecosystem and biodiversity throughout production, use energy efficient buildings, recyclable packaging, employ local people and they aim to reach zero carbon emissions. Plus their wineries are absolutely stunning.
You can plan your tasting here.
Reyneke Wines, South Africa
South Africa is home to some of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, particularly in the Western Cape. Even better, the region has taken great sustainable initiatives to preserve and protect the local environment.
If you’re interested in visiting the gorgeous wine region of Stellenbosch then a trip to Reyneke Wines is certainly in order. This vineyard dates back to 1863 and they produce some of the best certified organic wine in the region. With three different organic wine certifications and certified biodynamic, Reyneke produces wine that you can trust.
Here you’ll find pastures and farmland in between the vineyards. They produce their own fertilizer and compost onsight, as well as adopt the “reuse, repurpose, recycle” mentality throughout production.
If you’re looking to try an organic Chenin Blanc, the wine South Africa is most known for, then this is a great place to start.
To book a tasting, click here.
La Playa Winery, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Chile might not be as sought after for wine tourism as Italy, France or Spain, but its wineries are some of the biggest wine exporters in the world. Wine tasting throughout Chile offers a truly unique experience, as so much of this diverse country produces wine, thanks to its ideal climate. This allows for a variety of scenery and experiences to be had for the wine enthusiast.
Wine producers in Chile have been using natural, eco-friendly methods for centuries, which might be why 80% of all Chilean wine is produced using sustainably certified methods. While you clearly have options when it comes to choosing a sustainable winery, La Playa Wines is a top choice thanks to its location and its onsite hotel.
At La Playa, a wonderful sustainably farmed vineyard, you can spend a whole weekend on the property, staying in the lovely boutique hotel right next to its vineyards. Enjoy their local tasting menu, specifically made to pair with their wines, or go horseback riding between tastings.
Their wine is both certified sustainable and vegan. They don’t add pesticides or chemicals, and they create their own fertilizer thanks to their compost. They employ the local community and have adapted various eco-friendly practices with a particular focus on reducing water usage.
Book your reservation here.
Cullen Wines, Margaret River, Australia
Australia is a sought after destination for many things and wine should definitely be at the top of that list. Numerous wine regions throughout Australia have taken extra efforts to adopt eco-friendly production methods with their own Sustainable Wine Growing organization.
One particularly wonderful winery to visit is Cullen Wines, located in the off the beaten path Margaret River wine region. Cullen Wines has been producing since 1971, receiving biodynamic certification in 2008. They manually harvest all their wine by hand.
To enjoy a tasting in their biodynamic tasting room, book here.
Finca La Carrodilla, Valle de Guadalupe, México
Mexico’s spectacular wine regions don’t get as much international tourism as they should. With a recent interest in sustainability, change is on the horizon for Mexican wine. Leading the way in sustainability is the first certified organic winery in Mexico, Finca La Carrodilla.
Located in the most popular Mexican wine region, Baja California, Finca La Carrodilla should be your first stop. Finca La Carrodilla specializes in four types of wine: Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet and Tempranillo. They produce in small, high quality batches. They use biodynamic farming, with a certification in the works, and they have additional sustainable practices like a seasonal garden and local farm.
Finca La Carrodilla also uses solar panels, and they focus on reducing water usage as well as keeping their property both beautiful and sustainable. With stunning architecture, several dining and tasting areas throughout the property, and a local chef – a visit here is a feast for all the senses.
Plan your visit here.