What are organic wines? And what are biodynamic wines?
In our case organic wine is different from other wine in the following ways:
▪ No use of artificial yeast in alcoholic fermentation
▪ No use of artificial bacteria in maloactive fermentation
▪ Sulphur content is below 100 mg/l
▪ Only chlorine-free corks used
▪ No use of chemicals to improve, clarify or stabilise
▪ natural, sustainable methods of cultivation
Read more about biodynamic wines on DEMETER
Rudolf Steiner´s preparations
For a vineyard to be considered biodynamic the vine-grower 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 farmiers 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 part to play in the "circle of life." The farm should encourage biodiversity, be self-sustainable and resist monoculture through 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 - Preparation 500: 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 (dynamised) 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 (dynamised) in water and sprayed over the vines at daybreak. The horn may be re-used as a sheath. 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). 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.