Why buy biodynamic wine? Here’s a top choice for drinkers who want a hand-made product that reflects the terroir from which it came. These wines are also great for people who avoid chemicals or cellar interventions. One of the most common reasons for drinking biodynamics is the low ecological footprint, an Earth-aware product. All of these are good calls, but what does it actually mean?
Work and Wisdom
This farming method takes a lot of work and wisdom. No producer chooses biodynamics as the easy route. Biodynamic wine growers see their farm and cellar as a complete, closed environment. This means they don’t bring anything in from the outside such as chemicals or synthetics. In this way they are similar to organic wines, but not all organic wines are also biodynamic.
📷 : @montinore
To maintain balance, biodynamic growers promote fertility on their property and use farm-made “preparations” to keep the vines and soil healthy and armed with their own natural defenses. Teas made from certain botanicals are sprayed in the vineyard or compost. Cow horn preparations are dynamically applied to the vineyard—an iconic method often recognized as symbolic of biodynamics.
Biological diversity and useful animals, such as bees and earthworms, are invited to coexist with cultivated vineyards. Composting, cover crops, and grazing are alternatives to inputs and machinery. Biodynamic practitioners also feel that the moon and the weather impact the vineyard, so consideration is taken to roll with these phases.
There are several biodynamic certification bodies, Demeter being the most prominent around the world. Austria has respekt-BIODYN, and Biodyvin is at work in France and Italy. Movements are taking place elsewhere and there are also producers that practice biodynamics but don’t go in for certification.
The writings of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner are considered to be the codification of the practice, but these weren’t originally aimed at winegrowers. In an environment tempted by post-war chemical and technological advances that were touted as labor-saving, a small group of French vignerons picked up biodynamics as an alternative way to manage their vineyards and cellars. Marcel Lapierre was considered a leader of the “Gang of Four” rebels, the earliest adopters from this phase.
Nowadays practitioners are sprinkled throughout every wine growing region, and more biodynamic wines are available on the market than ever before. We are fascinated by Bernhard Ott in Austria, Chacra in Argentina, and Daniel Landi Viticultor from Spain. But this is just the tip of the iceberg (should we say tip of the compost pile?) so definitely explore the range. You won’t be disappointed.