When it comes to wine, everything's going green. Sustainable, organic and biodynamic (a form of organic farming that involves a healthy dose of oddball spiritualism, based on the writings of early-20th-century philosopher Rudolf Steiner) grape-growing are three well-known approaches, and many European (and American) wineries are finding additional ways to help protect the earth, as wellwhile still producing top-quality wines. Here are five wineries from as many countries, their eco-friendly strategies and recommendations for a great bottle from each of them.
De Bortoli Wines organically treats its winery waste water, which is then used to irrigate crops that in turn feed local cattle. The winery also instituted what it calls the 17 Trees Program, planting 17 trees for each company vehicle to offset CO2 production. Look for the 2005 De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Sémillon ($30), a luscious, honeysuckle-scented dessert wine made from Sémillon grapes.
At Alois Lageder's Tenuta Löwengang estate in Italy's Alto Adige, a new winery building was built with energy-efficient strategies such as photovoltaic panels on the office roof, special external walls for thermal insulation and energy-saving radiator panels in the ceilings for heating needs. Lageder makes a broad portfolio of wines, including one of the best Pinot Noirs in Italy, the fragrant, cherry-inflected 2005 Krafuss ($45).
Grove Mill became the world's first certified carbon-neutral winery in 2006, after spending years re-searching ways to lower its emissions. The winery also sponsors forest regeneration in the nearby Marlborough Sounds region. Its 2004 Wairau Valley Reserve Pinot Noir ($30) offers black-cherry fruit framed by toasty oak notes.
Port, because it is typically made from grapes sourced from tens or even hundreds of small growers, has practically no history of organic production. But recently, one of the Douro Valley's most famous producers, Fonseca, released the plummy Terra Bella ($23), a nonvintage Port made entirely from organically grown grapes (even the distilled spirit used to fortify the wine comes from organic grapes).
Megaproducer Torres has embraced a number of green initiatives, with president Miguel A. Torres spending €10 million to fund environmental programs. Among other strategies, all staff cars at Torres are being replaced with hybrids, rainwater collection systems are being used to lower water usage and 12,000 square meters of solar-power cells are providing energy at the main winery. Torres's 2003 Mas La Plana ($58), one of Spain's most famous Cabernet Sauvignons, is full of black-currant fruit and vanilla notes.