Organic and biodynamic wine is wine which is made with environmentally ethical values. The procedures for both methods respect the land and treats it as a living organism. Organic wine avoids using chemically synthesised products to kill insects, weeds and fungi. These chemical fertilizers, which are usually used for vine nutrition, are not used in organic or biodynamic wine. Organic viticulture is beneficial for the vineyard and the planet as it results in fewer chemical residues in the soil, atmosphere, groundwater and the wine itself. Organic growing also results in greater biodiversity, which is more likely to result in balance between beneficial pests, and non-beneficial vine pests.
Organics does not however eliminate the tractor in viticulture practices. If horses were used instead there would be no pollution and no compacted earth between the vine rows. The best wines are said to come from small-scale organic/biodynamic vineyards, of between 4 and 10 hectares.
Organic or biodymanic wines can be of much better quality compared with non-organic/biodynamic wine. They can be more intense, brighter, and more alive. When it comes to not using organic or biodynamic winemaking methods, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and Australia are said to be the worst offenders. Their grapes and wine are worth millions and chemicals applied during the growing season are seen as insurance.
Organic growing is different to biodynamics in that biodynamics forces the grower to be more sustainable. Rather than trucking organic fertiliser in from an outside supplier, biodynamics makes their own compost on the vineyard by keeping animals such as cows and sheep. Biodynamics also forces the growers to consider the effect of the sun, the moon and the cosmos. The placement of the planets, especially the moon place a part in biodymanics. The passage of the moon through the different constellations exerts four different elemental influences on the vineyard; water, earth, air and fire. which are shown through the leaves, roots, fruit and the flower respectively. A rising moon can be seen to affect the vitality, colour or aroma of the vine. A lowering moon influences the internal parts of the vine, so this is said to be a good time to prune. 'La Perigee' occurs when the moon is close to the earth, (L'Apogee') occurs when the moon is far from the earth. The fourth lunar quarter is a time of resting for the soil, so it is best to avoid any life stimulating preparations at this time.
Below are the four types of days which biodynamic growers take into consideration when undertaking certain activities in the vineyard:
Water and leaf days: The growth of the leaves is linked to the water signs of Scorpio, Cancer and Pisces. Leaves breathe in droplets of water but exhale large amounts of it. Winegrowers also spray the leaves with silica to increase photosynthesis in the vines. Silica acts like tiny magnifying glasses, and helps with the ripening process.
Earth and root days: The growth of the roots is linked to the earth signs Taurus, Capricorn and Virgo. It is said that compost should be added to the soil only on a root day, and in the afternoon, when the sun is descending.
Air and flower days: The growth of the vine's flowers are linked to air signs like Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.
Fire and fruit days: When the moon passes in front of a fire sign, heat and dryness are favoured in the vine. The growth of the fruit is linked to the fire signs Aires, Sagittarius and Leo. Fruit days are most important to a winegrower; fruit days are most appropriate for working the vineyard.
In conclusion, organic and biodynamic wine is the way of the future.
This is evident as more and more producers become aware of cause and affect relating to their winemaking practices. More viticulturists are seeing the vineyard as a living and breathing ecosystem instead of a factory spitting out wine. This way of winemaking pays off for both the producer and consumer in the long run as vineyards become healthier and the drinking quality of the wine improves. With this mindset and these values in place, organic and biodynamic vineyards will be the norm in generations to come.