In 2002, the USDA established stringent rules for who can and cannot label a wine “organic.” In addition to the exclusive use of organic grapes (grown without genetically modified seeds, fertilizers made with sewage sludge, or most conventional pesticides), a wine bearing the “USDA Organic” seal or the term “100% Organic” must not contain any added sulfites, and the vineyard must be inspected annually to ensure compliance with government standards.
The most holistic and environmentally sensitive form of agriculture dates back to the 1920s, when the enterprising scientist-mystic-philosopher Rudolf Steiner first looked to the cosmos to cultivate his garden. Besides eliminating all synthetic inputs, biodynamic farmers plant, prune, and harvest according to the phases of the moon and cosmological cycles, and apply special compost teas to help “enliven” the soil. One element is what’s called “preparation 500″: cow horns stuffed with manure, buried in the vineyard usually when the moon is in Virgo, and exhumed around the spring equinox. The manure is then mixed with water and sprayed on the ground to stimulate root growth. Look for either the terms biodynamic or “Demeter,” the global certification association.
Winegrowers making a broad attempt at environmental responsibility (improving soil through the use of cover crops and composting) may refer to their vineyard as “sustainably farmed.” Sometimes this indicates that the winery is transitioning from conventional farming to organic, though the more common term is “in transition.” It’s a self-policing policy with no standard regulations to follow, which means that farmers may revert to more invasive, toxic methods from time to time. source: wholeliving.com