Biodynamic agriculture and wine
Biodynamic wine is a wine made from grapes grown in a biodynamic way. Biodynamic agriculture is a holistic approach to agriculture, conceiving of the farm as a living organism and based on anthroposophy, a philosophy founded in the early 1920s by the Austrian philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner.
We have talked about natural wine and natural winemaking, which is first and foremost a different approach to winemaking. We have seen how natural wine is made at least from organic grapes, but more often from grapes grown on a biodynamic farm.
Natural winemakers find that only organic or biodynamic grapes have the characteristics necessary to withstand the natural winemaking method. Only healthy and unadulterated grapes can be transformed into natural wine through a non-interventionist approach.
So, are biodynamic wines also natural wines? no, not always. The main difference between natural and biodynamic wine is that biodynamic wine can also be made following a more conventional method and not necessarily according to the precepts of natural winemaking.
As is clear, there is quite a lot of overlap: a substantial amount of biodynamic wines are also natural wines. But to assess whether a wine can be defined as biodynamic, we look at whether it was made from biodynamically grown grapes and not the winemaking method.
With that cleared up, let's dive into what biodynamic agriculture is.
The principles of biodynamics
Biodynamics conceives the farm as a living organism
The main character of a biodynamic farm is the interdependence between plants, animals and people. The job of a biodynamic farmer is to ensure that this balance is maintained and improved by applying the principles of biodynamics. The result is a habitat where each element is in perfect harmony.
Biodynamic agriculture promotes biodiversity
The biodiversity of plants, grasses, flowers, fruits and also domestic animals is considered to contribute to the overall health of the entire ecosystem. A biodynamic farmer must gradually introduce different species of plants and animals, in order to develop the natural resilience of a place while maintaining its harmony.
Plants and animals are complementary
The interaction between plants and animal life is one of the pillars of biodynamic agriculture, which is generally not found in other types of agriculture. Animals support plants with their manure. Plants provide food for animals, also creating a favorable environment for their reproductive cycle.
Animals on a biodynamic farm are never fed animal products or processed foods and the breeding method of choice is always free range.
Chemical fertilizers are prohibited
On a biodynamic farm, fertility is achieved without the use of chemical fertilizers or other unnatural methods. Composting, cover cropping, and crop rotation are regularly implemented to regenerate soils.
Prevention of pests and diseases through biodynamics
Rather than killing living things with pesticides as a remedy for disease, biodynamic agriculture tries to prevent their formation by creating a habitat in which pests and diseases cannot thrive. This is essentially achieved by promoting biodiversity, thus restoring the natural balance of the environment.
Regenerating nature through biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamics is a radical concept where agriculture is much more than the production of crops or livestock. Agriculture is a way of being in this world and, therefore, every action must be regenerative and non-destructive, in addition to being integrated within the community.
Biodynamic agriculture is spiritual agriculture
Biodynamics is a type of spiritual agriculture, which works in harmony with all living beings, with the Earth and the Cosmos. Biodynamic farmers follow the biodynamic calendar, where the influence of the Cosmo on the environment is traced.
The tools of biodynamic agriculture
The six biodynamic preparations
1 Yarrow (Preparation 502): mobilize sulfur and potassium
2 Chamomile (Preparation 503): regulates the nitrogen process.
3 Nettle (Preparation 504): favors the formation of humus.
4 Oak bark (Preparation 505): increases the resistance of the plant.
5 Dandelion (Preparation 506): Allows plants and soil life to access the silica.
6 Valerian (Prep 507): protects compost heap.
The three biodynamic aerosols
1 Cow Horn Dung (Preparation 500)
It is made by filling a cow's horn with cow manure, which is buried in the ground during the winter months, from November to February. Preparation 500 is sprayed on the vineyards four times a year following the descending lunar phases and is said to regenerate degraded soils.
2 Horn silica (Preparation 501)
It is made by filling a cow horn with finely ground quartz crystals and burying it from March to April. Then it is sprayed over the vineyards early in the morning and sad to increase the immunity of the plants.
3 Horsetail (Preparation 508)
It is obtained by boiling or fermenting horsetail, a plant that contains silica. The tea obtained is sprayed in the morning and is said to prevent fungal diseases and mold.
Biodynamic wine certification
Unlike natural wine, for which there is no shared definition or certifying body, there is a clear definition and certifying institution for biodynamic wine.
As of 2018, there are around 5,000 certified biodynamic farms in 60 countries around the world.