What Does Biodynamic Mean?
The concept behind biodynamics is that everything in the universe is interconnected and gives off a resonance or ‘vibe’. The interconnectivity of everything even includes celestial bodies like the moon, planets and stars. Biodynamic viticulture is the practice of balancing this resonance between vine, man, earth and stars. Essentially, biodynamics is a holistic view of agriculture.
Biodynamic Agriculture is Almost a Century Old
The concept of Biodynamics started in the 1920’s with an Austrian philosopher named Rudolph Steiner. It is a holistic, homeopathic manner of farming that, of course, also includes viticulture. It is the oldest, anti-chemical agricultural movement that predates the creation of organic farming by about twenty years.
If you think about it, there’s not really anything ‘new’ behind the theory of biodynamics. Mankind has looked to the celestial sky for guidance from the ancient Greeks and Egyptians all the way to the trusty ‘Farmer’s Almanac’ which is the bible of traditional American farming.
What Makes Wine Biodynamic?
The ‘Demeter’ symbol represents one of only two Biodynamic Certifications in the world.
Biodynamics occur primarily in the vineyard before winemaking even happens. All the various tasks, from planting, pruning, to harvesting, are regulated by a special biodynamic calendar. The calendar was originally devised by the ‘high priestess’ of Biodynamics, Maria Thun, who divided days into four categories: Root, Fruit, Flower and Leaf Days.
Each biodynamic calendar day coincides with one of the four classical elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water that have been used since before Plato’s era:
- Fruit Days: Best days for harvesting grapes
- Root Days: Ideal days for pruning
- Flower Days: Leave the vineyard alone on these days
- Leaf Days: Ideal days for watering plants
You would never, for example, want to harvest on a Leaf Day because Leaf Days correlate with the Element water and you’d end up picking rotten, waterlogged grapes!
Besides the biodynamic calendar, no chemicals or ‘manufactured’ additions (like commercial yeast) are allowed in biodynamic wine. Instead, wine growers make special compost preparations with natural ingredients to bolster their vineyards. This is where things start to get controversial.