A glass of red wine overlooking a winery.

Wineries that produce certified organic wine cannot use toxic pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers to grow grapes.

In Western Canada, a lot of local wine comes from B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. It’s a great vacation spot with beautiful lakes and orchards. It’s also home to rare plants and animals of the antelope-brush ecosystem — and a great place to grow grapes!

It’s also one of the four most endangered ecosystems in all of Canada.

Over 60 per cent of antelope-brush habitat has been lost to houses, grazing or agriculture. Today only 3,100 hectares remain, and 88 species are either gone or at risk of disappearing. When wine tasting and buying, keep nature in mind.

“Made with organically grown grapes”

Wines with this label have a minimum of 70 per cent organic grapes, but are not the same as certified organic wines. They’re often processed using the same equipment and in the same facility as conventional wine, and may also contain sulphur dioxide.

Certified organic wine

Producers use 100 per cent organic grapes and can’t use toxic pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers. Instead they fertilize with compost, compost teas, green manure, and cover crops. They also rely on mechanical weeding, mowing around the vines, mulching, and companion planting. To avoid using insecticides to control cutworms, they let chickens graze under the vines or handpick the worms off leaves. Certified organic wine doesn’t use genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or contain sulphites (conventional wines use GMO yeast).

Biodynamic wine

Biodynamic vineyards use natural resources to cultivate grapes without pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, or growth stimulants, and often meet or exceed the standards and regulations for organic-certified farming.

Ask the tough questions

Find out how the vineyard protects, maintains or enhances the surrounding ecosystem.