Biodynamic farming began back in 1924, started by Rudolf Steiner - an Austrian scientist, philosopher, architect, and claimed clairvoyant. He founded an esoteric spiritual movement called anthroposophy - based science and mysticism. By all means a very interesting man!
What he brought to agriculture - and to vines and wine making - was a method that focused on crop vitality, focusing on the farm as a living organism. Despite some more unconventional methods - such as sowing, planting and cultivating in certain phases of the moon
- it's approach has a lot of merit from a sustainability point of view.
Biodynamics was in fact an early form of regenerative agriculture. It aims to be self-sufficient. As far as possible, the seeds, fertiliser, pesticide, animal feed all produced on site. GMOs are forbidden. At least 10% of the farm must be set aside for beneficial biodiversity which support as natural pest control.
So whilst many may consider Steiner's theories and more esoteric ideas a bit out there, the nature-based fundamentals, and care with which they are applied in biodynamic vineyards speaks to a level of appreciation of the natural world and of the grape growing process that is very particular.
Is it organic?
Whilst biodynamics and organic wines have much in common, and biodynamic wines are often organic, they are not the same. Biodynamic wines need to be Demeter certified - certification at the whole vineyard level, including practices to make the inputs on site and set aside land, compared to organic certification which requires specific chemicals and practices to be avoided during the growing and production phases of the grapes and wines.
Does it taste any good?
Generally speaking, biodynamic wines don't taste different to normal wines. Some experts believe biodynamic (and organic
) wines have a higher quality profiles, but you'll be able to find biodynamic wines that you love just like non-organic and organic wines. But, like organic wines, the lack of harmful chemicals, preservatives, and unsustainable practices means that the environmental footprint of the wine is much smaller than regular wines.
And they come with some great stories!