As biodynamic winegrowers we are following the cycles of nature.
Our regenerative organic farming system focuses on soil health, the integration of plants and animals, and biodiversity.
It demands close observation and participation of us farmers.
In practice, our way of biodynamic farming meets the organic standard including the prohibition of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, but goes much further:
We integrate animals, perennial plants, flowers and trees and composting.
Our vineyards are biotopes in natural balance.
We maintain at least 10% of total acreage as a biodiversity set.
Specially prepared medicinal plants, minerals, and composted animal manures help us to increase the vitality of the grapes grown and further anchor our individual farm in time and place.
A healthier vineyard begins with healthier soil.
Healthier soil results in expansive root systems, which essentially channel terroir into our grapes.
So our wines can get expressive and unique individualities: Let's say a “taste of our place”.
We also foster all this through the use of biodynamic preparations.
Rudolf Steiner´s preparations
For a vineyard to be considered biodynamic we vine-growers must follow the organic criteria plus all of the philosophies first voiced in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner. Steiner was an Austrian-German-Hungarian cultural philosopher, social reformer and spiritual scientist; a genius who also worked on artistic media, drama, education methods, architecture and finally agriculture. On request of the German big farmers, he produced a series of lectures on an ecological and sustainable approach to agriculture.
His idea was to apply a holistic approach to the farm wherein every organism contributes and has a part to play in the "circle of life." The farm should encourage biodiversity, be self-sustainable and resist monoculture through the cultivation of a variety of plants (vineyards are normally monocultures as they grow just vines).
Steiner outlined nine preparations (500-508) these are made from cow manure, quartz (silica) and seven medicinal plants. Some of these materials are first transformed using animal organs as sheaths (the animal organs are not used on the vineyards). Of the nine biodynamic preparations three are used as sprays (horn manure, horn silica, and common horsetail) and the other six are applied to the vineyard via solid compost. Preparations intended for sprays are mixed with water and go through "vortexing" where the liquid is vigorously stirred in one direction then another for up to an hour before use. This is the biodynamisation. Spayed out it increases photosynthesis in the vine leaves by concentrating sunlight.
Although there are some bizarre elements to the whole biodynamic philosophy, most advocates do not know why or how some of these preparations work; but admit they do. Bodies such as Demeter grant a certificate for those reaching the criteria.
Rudolf Steiner's Preparations 500-508
Cow manure is buried in cow horns in the soil over winter. The horn is then dug up, its contents (called horn manure or "500") are then stirred in water (dynamized) and sprayed on the soil in the afternoon. The horn may be re-used as a sheath. Stimulates soil life and root growth.
QUARTZ - Preparation 501:
Ground quartz is buried in cow horns in the soil over summer. The horn is then dug up, its contents (called horn silica or "501") are then stirred (dynamized) in water and sprayed over the vines at daybreak. The horn may be re-used as a sheath. It enhances light metabolism and photosynthesis.
YARROW - Preparation 502:
Dried yarrow flowers are buried, sheathed in a stag's bladder over winter, then dug up the following spring. The bladder's contents are removed and inserted in the compost (the used bladder is discarded). Encourages uptake of trace elements.
CHAMOMILE - Preparation 503:
Dried German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) flowers are sheathed in a cow intestine. and buried over winter, then dug up the following spring. The intestine's contents are removed and inserted in the compost (the used intestine is discarded). Stabilizes nitrogen and calcium and enhances soil life.
NETTLES - Preparation 504:
Stinging nettles are buried in the soil (with no animal sheath) for one year, dug up the following year, and inserted in the compost. Stabilizes sulfur and stimulates soil health.
OAK BARK - Preparation 505:
Oak bark is sheathed in the skull of a farm animal and buried in a watery environment over winter, then dug up. The skull's contents are removed and inserted in the compost (the used skull is discarded). It provides "healing forces" to prevent disease.
DANDELION - Preparation 506:
Dried dandelion flowers are buried, sheathed in a cow mesentery (peritoneum) over winter, then dug up the following spring. The mesentery's contents are removed and inserted in the compost and the used mesentery is discarded. Stimulates the relationship between silica and potassium so silica can attract "cosmic forces" to the soil.
VALERIAN - Preparation 507:
Fermented valerian flower juice is sprayed over the compost. Stimulates compost so that phosphorus will be properly used by the soil.
HORSETAIL - Preparation 508:
Common horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is dried and used to prepare a fresh tea; it is then applied either to the vines or to the soil. Lessens the effect of fungus.