In the world of vine growing and wine making there has been a rising interest in an agricultural school of thought called biodynamic.
Based on the writings and lectures of Rudolf Steiner, this form of agriculture intends to produce fruit, vegetables and grains (in fact, all products of a farm including animals) by using the natural rhythms of the land and treating the farm like one living organism. It's all explained here.
Does Biodynamic farming produce better grapes? I didn't know. And I still don't.
To find out a little more I helped organize a field trip to Washington State to meet with renowned biodynamic vineyard consultant Philippe Armenier . Mr. Armenier generously donated some of his time in between consultations with his Washington and Oregon clients. Our group consisted of about 15 winemakers, growers, resellers, winery owners and some enthused members of the wine drinking public. We travelled first to the Tri-Cities area and then to the Walla Walla valley to view the vineyards, walk the land and taste the wines.
During the afternoon our group split into several smaller expeditions. Our pack traveled to Pacific Rim in West Richland. If you're not familiar with this Randall Grahm project, they do a lot of riesling. And virtually no red. Which is odd considering they're in sight of the Red Mountain AVA, famous for great reds. This state of the art facility is jaw-droppingly awesome in so many ways. Sophisticated yet basic, tech-driven but true to wine making art. From a winemaker's perspective, it's a great facility and the wines are remarkable at every level.
We concluded our visit with another beautifully catered lunch, presented in the Cayuse cellar, joined by standout Cayuse wines and consumed on the sunny crush pad.
As our time with Mr. Armenier drew to a close over lunch, I found myself suddenly aware of who might find biodynamic agriculture an attractive route. Is biodynamic right for you? The answer, in part, is perhaps.
If you're comfortable with the spiritual, if you're open-minded about the world around you and the possibility of the supernatural, you're going to love biodynamic agriculture. Acceptance, or surrender, to the rules of biodynamics means you don't have to rely on science anymore. You can follow the biodynamic way and know truths about how the universe and the world functions in the cyclical pattern of seasons. Life forces, unexplainable and defying examination, inhabit the ground, the air and living things. BioDy will allow you to make all of this work in harmony.
In this way, biodynmics differs little from various religions and other dogmatic, faith-based movements. A certain degree of acceptance is required. It's all about linking the soil, the place, the animals and the cosmos and using their life forces to create what we need. It's about trust and taking the leap.
Like to know more?
There's a forum thread here at Wine Beserkers that makes for some stimulating reading as forces on both side of the issue duke it out. Included are many interesting links supplied by Brigitte Armenier, Philippe's wife.
Here's how Valeria Tait, one of our participants on the Washington road trip, summarized her experience.