The world of biodynamic wine is filled with wonderful places and people and Iola Wines is thrilled to take you on this journey that envelopes your palate and brings peace to your mind. The biodynamic vineyard isn’t a place of mechanized dominance of the land, but instead a partnership of people, animals, plants, and vines that produces a vibrant, vital expression of place.
This is ethical farming, viticulture that raises awareness of the interrelationships between us and the land, emphasizing sustainable and regenerative practices that promote health and vitality beyond the vineyard to the broader community and future generations.
As you might expect, wines made from biodynamic fruit are minimal intervention wines, often from a spontaneous fermentation with no added sulfur, winemaking additives, or filtering. Wine freed from the expectations of human ego, often said to taste brighter, fresher, closer to true varietal expression – maybe it’s our unburdened conscience.
The very nature of biodynamic principles makes it the perfect complement, if not a requirement for true wines of place, wines of terroir.
The heart of biodynamic principles
One might think that time takes the shape of a spiral when you study biodynamic agriculture. Introduced by Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner to a turbulent post-World War I Vienna, his integration of scientific principle with a spiritual consideration of nature enjoys a growing audience 100 years later in turbulent times once again, perhaps on the curve of some hidden spiral.
Steiner viewed the farm as vital, whole, living organism benefitting from holistic and regenerative practices. Integrated and interdependent, biodynamic vineyards consider soil and composts, adjacent forest and plants, animals, insects, and the people working there as a harmonious system that nourishes the land, listens, and responds to its unique needs. A system in balance requires no outside pesticides or herbicides, it is self – sustaining. A balanced, energetic environment produces fruit of quality and ripeness.
The biodynamic environment
Natural environments thrive on biodiversity and by extension biodiversity is a core element of the biodynamic vineyard. Surrounding forest, cover crops and flower-filled meadows make for happy pollinators and humanely treated animals work in concert to maintain nutrient balance within the soil. Problems that arise from mono varietal or cultural practices are minimized since the system is in balance. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are not needed to “fix” the balance.
Vineyards by their very nature are beautiful, evocative spaces, but a biodynamic vineyard is one where you might want to pitch your tent and just listen. There’s a good chance a goat or duck might join you.
Working in rhythm with the stars
Although encouraged, biodynamic certified vineyards are not required to follow one of the most interesting aspects of biodynamic agriculture, its calendar. Steiner advocated that all farm activities should be conducted in accordance with the rhythm and cycle of the cosmos to optimize subtle influences of the sun, moon and stars on planting, cultivating and harvesting.
Maria Thun, a major proponent of biodynamic methods in the 1950s, embraced this idea and created a detailed calendar after observing the affects in her own garden.
The calendar harkens back to ancient times, invoking the classical elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water and associated with the related sign of the zodiac. The corresponding days are Root, Fruit, Flower, and Leaf Days. Root days are influenced by the earth and favor pruning. Fruit days are associated with warmth and are favored for grape harvesting. Flower days are related to air and water and are a rest day in the vineyard. Leaf days are water days and associated with pruning.
The Demeter Federation provides information, training and certification on biodynamic methods which are as at home in your garden as well as the vineyards. Does anyone really need more of a reason to lay under the stars and cuddle with your favorite goat? I think not.