What the heck does biodynamic mean?
One of the most frequently asked questions I get when talking to someone about natural wine is, "Biodynamic? What is that?".
These practices extend far beyond wine and isn't some trendy short-lived phenomenon. Biodynamic farming came about from the work of philosopher and scientist Rudolph Steiner and his lectures to farmers on how to integrate science with the recognition of spirit in nature. These principles have been evolving and expanding since the early 1920s and can be applied anywhere that food is grown.
So what exactly are these beliefs and practices and how does it relate to wine?
Followers of these principles believe that the biodynamic farm is a living organism with each interdependent element living off of and helping to support the other. These elements include fields, forests, plants, animals, soils, compost, people and spirit. It's the goal of the biodynamic farmer to work in such a way that harmony is achieved through each of these separate but equal parts.
Here are some concrete examples of things you might find at a biodynamic vineyard:
Biodiversity - annual and perennial flowers, vegetables, fruits and veggies and native plants are all grown in combination and collaboration with grape vines. A few free roaming animals contribute to both natural soil aeration and fertilization. Multiple different life forms all supporting each other help to contribute to a healthy living soil, invite pollinators and naturally fight off disease and pests.
No chemicals - the biodynamic vineyard is free from chemical pesticides and fertilizers. The goal is for the farm to create it's own fertile soils through composting, integrating animals, cover cropping, and crop rotation. This eliminates the need to use manufactured chemicals to aid in fertilization and pest prevention.
Preparations - medicinal herbs are incorporated into the compost to benefit and promote naturally occurring fungi and bacteria that are necessary for health soil. These herbs include yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion, and valerian root. These preparations stabilize nitrogen and increase carbon naturally to optimize these nutrients for plant consumption.
Respect for the Cosmos - biodynamic growers believe that celestial influences affect the growth and development of all living organisms. This manifests itself in things like optimal times for sowing, transplanting, cultivating, harvesting and composting based on lunar cycles and planetary alignment.
Community - The goal of biodynamic farming is not just to meet the needs of the land, but also to contribute to a healthier, more spiritually whole society. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) was pioneered by biodynamic farmers and many followers of these practices collaborate with schools, medical and wellness facilities, restaurants, hotels, homes for social therapy, and other organizations.
So when you choose to drink biodynamic wine, you're drinking to the good of the environment, the fostering of healthy spirit and the betterment of global communities and that's something that we at Kathryn's Wines can really get behind. Beyond that, wine made from living, thriving, naturally enriched soils just tastes damn good and we hope that you agree.
If you want to learn more about biodynamic agriculture you can check out the Biodynamic Association website where I pulled most of the biodynamic concepts from above. Happy reading!