Our earth is warming. And it’s changing the wine world. Seasons are becoming hotter, and shorter, with wineries across the world harvesting their fruit two-to-six weeks earlier than they did 30 years ago, with grapes having lower acidity, higher alcohol, and sometimes cooked-fruit flavors.
Though the warming trend is helping emerging northern wine regions grow, like parts of New York, Canada, and England, classic, beloved wines, like low alcohol, earthy, restrained Burgundy and Bordeaux, are changing with rising alcohol levels and the classic Old World palate becoming more fruit-forward.
There are vintners fighting climate change, farming as clean and green as possible, employing sustainable, organic and biodynamic techniques in wine production.
On this Earth Day, toast the wineries embracing these techniques. Some selections noted were sent for editorial consideration.
Premium sparkling wine producer, Domaine Carneros is among the recipients for the 2019 California Green Medal Business Award for their Certified Sustainable efforts in the vineyard and winery. The Cuvee de la Pompadour Brut Rose ($37) leaps from the glass with effervescent bubbles and aromas of raspberry, tangerine, and peach.
Santa Barbara’s Beckmen Vineyards was the region’s first to achieve Demeter biodynamic certification in their estate vineyards, delivering expressive selections with a focus on Rhone varieties. Beckman Cuvee Le Bec ($25) Rhone-style blend displays layers of blackberry, raspberry, white pepper, and wildflower.
Cooling winds off the Santa Ynez River through Sea Smoke‘s organic-and-biodynamic-certified vineyards ensures that delicate Pinot Noir maintains freshness throughout the hot growing season for their Sta. Rita Hills vineyards. Sea Smoke ‘Ten’ Pinot Noir ($82), produced from ten different French clones of Pinot Noir, reveals complexity, with dark fruit and bold tannins.
Farmed 100 percent organic, and now under the guidance of Laura Diaz Munoz, Ehlers Estate is a hallmark for showcasing quality Napa Valley fruit, particularly with their 1882 Cabernet Sauvignon, a nod to their long history producing Cab from their 42-acre contiguous-vineyard St. Helena estate. The entrance of Diaz Munoz brings excitement, as the talented winemaker produces stellar Sauvignon Blanc, as proven with Galerie Wines. Her 2018 Ehlers Sauvignon Blanc ($32) reveals a full-palate of tropical guava, pineapple, and citrus.
Regal, expressive and refined, Chateau de Nalys Grand Vin Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($100) from organically farmed vineyards highlights the character of old-vine Grenache, giving power and character to the expressive, utterly delicious wine.
Somewhat obscure, slightly funky, and quite beautiful, organically farmed Magliocco Canino layers cherry, strawberry, and bitter orange in the small production Rosina Comerci ($27) from Calabria, Italy.
Proving you can make incredible organic wine for every consumer’s price-preference, Chile’s Veramonte delivers quality, and affordability. With 1500-acres of vineyards certified organic in Chile’s Casablanca, Colchagua, and Apalta Valley, Veramonte showcases the diversity of place in their Bordeaux and Burgundy varietal wines, while maintaining their Chilean style. Newly released Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc is the first ECOCERT organic wine.
Sister winery, Primus showcases Bordeaux-variety fruit from their Colchagua Valley vineyards, fermented using native yeasts, allowing the story of the place to be revealed in each wine. Primus Blend ($21), leading with Cabernet Sauvignon, is subtle, with balanced structure, lively fruit, and a soft, lingering palate.
Concentrated and complex, sustainably farmed, Napa Green Certified Stags Leap District Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon ($78) is textured with notes of black fruit, pencil lead, and dried fig, revealing an essence of place in every glass.
Cultivating 125-acres of family vineyards biodynamically, Alto Adige’s Alois Lageder honors classic varieties, like the region’s indigenous Lagrein. Alois Lageder Lagrein ($25) reveals high acid and tannin, revealing gamey, pepper notes.
A benchmark for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Kim Crawford is dedicated to sustainable farming, respecting the fruit and where it comes from. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc ($18) layers lemon, grapefruit, and grassy notes.
Certified Napa Green Groth Oak Knoll Hillview Estate Vineyard Chardonnay ($35) stylishly displays the Oak Knoll fruit with balanced acidity, clean citrus and apple flavors, and a juicy, refreshing finish.
Layering wet stone with golden apple and pear, 100% certified sustainable Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay ($22) reveals textured and complexity, with a rich, toasty, spicy finish.