Friday, July 16, 2021

PART 1: Boom Times for Organic and Biodynamic Certification in Napa

Organic and biodynamic wine certification is on the rise in Napa. 

In the past year, several new wineries have come on board, certifying hundreds of acres of vines, and making the region the organic and biodynamic hotspot in the US. It now has the highest number of organic acres in any fine wine region in the country. 

However, many Napa producers still rely on dangerous chemicals. No large, corporate owned wineries are certified organic, a group that includes Beringer, Constellation, Gallo, Treasury Wine Estates and others. (The single exception is Opus One which is jointly owned by the Bordeaux-based Rothschild family and New York-based Constellation Brands.)


The largest organic vineyard owner, Demeine Estates, is now in the transition to certify all of its 550 acres biodynamic. Many of its brands are already 100 percent organic estate wineries: Stony Hill, Heitz Cellar, and two new brands–Brendel and Ink Grade. All of these vines are already certified organic. 

It also owns Burgess, Haynes Vineyard and Wildwood Vineyard, each of which is in the three year transition to organic and to biodynamic certification. 

The uber green producer Spottswoode (17 acres) became Demeter certified biodynamic in 2020. (It has been certified organic for decades.)

Before Spottswoode joined, there were only 170 biodynamic acres in Napa–primarily at Raymond Vineyards.


After nearly a decade of declaring itself to be organic, but, never being certified, Quintessa (160 acres) finally crossed the threshold in August of 2020. It has also applied for biodynamic certification. The winery also has one vineyard that is in transition to organic for its Faust estate wines.

Tiny Hoopes Vineyard, with 12 acres in Yountville, also became certified organic this spring. It has an additional seven acres on the Oakville AVA that are on the verge of being certified.

Opus One (136 acres), also in Oakville, became certified in April of 2021.

Others are in the certification pipeline, a process which takes three years or organic farming to complete. 


While Napa currently has about 10 percent of its vineyards certified organic (not including in transition acreage), Bordeaux now has 11 percent. That's in a country where nationwide the figure is 14 percent. 

The Languedoc, home to lower priced wines, often exported, is 27 percent certified (or in transition) organic. 

About 300 more wineries are expected to become organic in Bordeaux this year, according to local authorities.

See the next post in this three part series.

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