Sustainable Winemaking Buzzwords Explained

There’s hardly any better feeling than buying a bottle of wine, pouring yourself a glass, and knowing that each sip supports sustainability efforts in wine production. Sustainability is more than a trend; it’s a driving force in society and businesses. For winemakers in Germany and elsewhere, this means producing wines that sustain the industry for future generations of wine lovers and winemakers.

Sustainable wines come in many forms and are often associated with organic, biodynamic, or natural wines, although there are some important distinctions between these. While you might see these terms being used in tandem, there are some key differences between these winemaking philosophies, which are practiced throughout Germany’s 13 wine regions.

Let’s break down the main sustainability terms and philosophies in viticulture, so you can better understand the purpose behind your wine purchase.

Principles of Organic Agriculture


  • In Germany, the term organic is regulated by the European Union, similarly to the wines of France, Spain, or Italy.
  • Attentive handling of natural resources such as water, soil, and air.
  • No use of synthetic mineral fertilizers because these damage soil life.
  • No use of chemical/synthetic pesticides.
  • Promotion of diversity of species and promotion of beneficial insects.
  • Creation of diverse ecosystems.
  • Natural products instead of genetically modified products.

Principles of Biodynamic Farming


  • Biodynamic viticulture is based on the belief that the vine is an “agricultural organism” that needs to be protected and exists in harmony with the whole environment.
  • Biodynamic farming is certified by private guidelines, provided by associations and organizations such as Demeter.
  • Organic farming is often the foundation of biodynamic farming.
  • Extension of biodynamic farming principles:
    • Every farm is a vivid, individual organism, is self-sufficient, and uses animal husbandry as a core element of this model
    • The farmer is centered in this organism
    • Biological and cosmic rhythms are taken into account, where possible
    • Biodynamic preparations are used to activate specific subtle processes

Principles of Natural Winemaking


  • The movement of “natural” winemaking arose from organic winemaking. With no clear definition, natural winemaking focuses on the winemaking process more so than the viticultural process.
  • Most often, it refers to wines made with minimal intervention and little to no additives.
  • Natural wines utilize the grapes’ naturally occurring yeasts to begin the fermentation process.
  • The final wine is often unfined and unfiltered.
  • Sulfur and other preservatives are generally not added to the wine.





When shopping for sustainable German wines, you might find logos from various certification organizations. Examples include Demeter International, ECOVIN, Naturland, Fair n’ Green, and Bioland.

To try some sustainable sips, check out this past ‘5 to Try’ for German wine recommendations produced using organic, biodynamic, and/or natural winemaking practices!