Biodynamic, sustainable, natural, and organic are all much talked-about terms in wine these days. With the world of wine being so large, however, it can be hard to keep all of the meanings and differences straight. This week, we focus on biodynamic wine-growing, providing explanations as well as two featured selections on the site. Make sure to enter SIPONE when ordering to receive free delivery! Also make sure to check out our new All Natural, All Good and our Wine 201 tasting experiences, both of which provide additional information about this corner of the wine world.
- Biodynamic is a term to describe a very specific method of agriculture. It involves organic farming, but additional steps must be taken as well. You can think of it as organic farming on steroids—natural steroids, that is.
- The biodynamic method is a relatively new phenomenon, developed by an Austrian scientist named Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. By comparison, grape growing in Europe goes back some 8,000 years.
- Biodynamics rely on a set of treatments or preparations. These are derived from things like chamomile tea and compost and are assigned a specific number. Preparation 500 for example is manure that is stuffed inside of a cow horn and buried in the vineyard, where it stays through the winter.
- There is a biodynamic calendar that prescribes when certain things need to occur in the vineyard. This is based on the phases of the moon. There are root days, flower days, fruit days, and leaf days, with certain activities happening on particular days. If you are interested, you can follow the biodynamic calendar on your phone by downloading the CalBio app and trying some of these methods out in your garden.
- Biodynamic vineyards now exist all over the world, with many more being converted to biodynamic farming each year. The conversion process takes several years. While we are featuring two domestic biodynamic wines this week, you can also find biodynamic wines around the world, from France, to Hungary, to Australia.
- Although these practices may sound a little bit “out there,” biodynamic wines have a reputation of being of extremely high quality on the whole. In fact, Domaine Leroy, Château Petrus, and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti all release wines from biodynamic grapes that cost nearly $10,000 per bottle.
- Whereas terms such as sustainable and organic have different meanings in different countries, and are thus loosely defined, biodynamic farming is regulated by an international certifying body called Demeter. You will see their logo on the back of wines from Demeter-certified vineyards, as well as other agricultural products.
- Since Demeter does charge a fee for certification, many smaller biodynamic producers may choose to practice biodynamic viticulture without going through the certification process. Although these wines can be harder to identify in the market, they can be just as good.
- If you’re looking to check out a biodynamic vineyard and winery within a short drive of San Francisco, Quintessa in the Napa Valley and Radio-Coteau in Sebastopol are two great options. The places aren’t open to the masses so make sure to call ahead.
- If you’d like to share this knowledge on biodynamics with your friends or work team, make sure to book your All Natural, All Good or Wine 201 tasting soon, as both of these experiences feature a little bit more info on biodynamics.