Biodynamic Wine Explained
April 17, 2010
Biodynamic wine could be called organic wine to the 10th power. The basic idea of what biodynamic wine is flows fairly consistently with organic wine however is much more thorough and complete in that it follows the logic out to a farther extreme. Where organic wine making attempts to use a more naturalistic approach avoiding harmful chemicals, biodynamic wine making looks even farther into the rhythm of nature to take its cue.
In the organic wine making process, there are no pesticides or other chemicals involved in the production of the grapes in the vineyard used to make the wine. The same case as with biodynamic wine making. This is done in a variety of nature inspired substitutive ways. For one, natural predator-prey relationships are used such as the release of lady bugs to eat vine aphids and having chickens roam freely throughout the vineyard to eat other animals that could potentially harm the vines. For another, cover crops are used. This is the planting of crops during the off cycle of the grapes that help the soil to recover some natural nutrients and additionally attract some of the helpful animals and insects that will later be useful for the predator-prey pest control. Additionally, nets can be placed over the grapes to prevent birds from eating the grapes while bird houses are set up to keep those same birds around to eat other parasitic insects. These are just a few of a variety of different ways to circumvent the need to use chemical pesticides, repellents, or other unnatural chemicals.
The biodynamic wine making process is similar to the organic one in these ways. However, the biodynamic process goes even farther. As opposed to simply focusing on the microcosm of the vineyard, the biodynamic theory of wine making stresses the big picture the big, big picture. Think 'universe' big. Dr Rudolf Steiner founded the basic principle back in 1924 through a series of lectures. It was later refined by Dr Pfeifer and then later again by Alan Chadwick. The idea is that everything that encompasses the vineyard affects it and should be adhered to as much as possible in order to create the best possible wine.
Biodynamic wineries adhere to what is called the Stella Natura Biodynamic agricultural calendar which uses the stars and the moon as a sort of cosmic rhythm guide for when to do the pruning, planting, and digging. There are also preparations and sprays that are used in concordance with these cosmic cycles.
By using the tools of nature (universal nature, not just local nature) on nature, the idea is to eliminate prosthetic tools such as the chemicals which are not naturally found in nature. By keeping the process entirely self contained in that sense, the wine can be a healthier product for both the consumer and the environment.
So biodynamic wine making utilizes not only natural techniques in order to purify the process of harmful chemicals as does the organic wine making process, but additionally relies on the timing of constellations, the moon, and other astrological aspects to bring together the entire rhythm of the universe for the perfect grape.
If you are the type of person that takes an art form to the extreme, you will enjoy the technical side of the biodynamic wine making process. If you enjoy the idea of moving within the natural rhythms of earth and the universe, you will enjoy the principles behind the biodynamic wine making process. If you prefer to drink wine that is not infested with harmful chemicals and biproducts, biodynamic wine is the safe bet. However, if all of these things fall a distant 2nd place to a great tasting wine, biodynamic wine is definitely the best choice for you.