Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

Biodynamic Wine

Spring is a perfect time to celebrate and focus on naturally crafted wines. One could argue that the most natural wines are those made following the Biodynamic farming methods. Biodynamic farming focuses on non-chemical agricultural. It traces its roots to the teachings and seminars of an Austrian man named Rudolf Steiner who wanted to focus on spiritual nourishment as well as physical nourishment on the farm.

It seems that when Steiner discussed the concept of spirituality in reference to Biodynamics, he was talking about the presence of life and energy that exists in nature and our connection to that energy rather than a belief in a certain deity.

It is this energy that he believed humans were increasingly becoming detached from as they moved toward more industrial methods. and larger scale, commercial farming.

Of chief concern to Steiner at the time he created biodynamics was the development of inorganic fertilizers by a German Chemist, von Liepig who became known as the father of Chemical farming.

Von Liepig developed a theory known as the law of the minimum which basically stated that whichever element that was needed by the plant but was in the shortest supply would dictate the potential growth of the plant. Nitrogen was the element that was in shortest supply and thusly, Nitrogen rich fertilizers were born. These fertilizers worked well at a time when Europe needed them to grow crops in abundance however they had some negative side effects such as soil degradation, creation of larger and hardier weeds as well as fungal and disease issues in the farm. Eventually these negative side effects were addressed with the additional application of new chemicals specifically designed to treat these new threats but these new chemicals came with their own negative side effects. You can see how this could spiral out of control. Organic farming addresses the idea of simply not using these types of chemicals in your farm. Biodynamic farming takes it to another level.

Steiner’s idea was to create farm systems that were not only fully sustainable, but created physically healthy and spiritually healthy farms. Healthy crops were simply a side effect of his teachings. More importantly, it was everything on the farm that became healthier through his systems. This includes the crops, the livestock, the earth itself and the farmers and their families.

His belief was that by following a standard set of processes including using a number of different fertilizers made under strict guidelines from ingredients that come from the farm and then by careful application at the appropriate time, a farmer could imbue his crops with a healthy spirit and strength that would then translate to the creatures on the farm that ate those crops.
 

This process comes full circle. Imagine this, a farmer carefully grows his crops using fertilizers made carefully on the farm from manure from his cows. The crops get stronger. The cows eat better crops. What happens to their manure? It also gets better and more potent as a fertilizer of course. Eventually, the cows are healthier and the farmers who have been eating the crops and the occasional cow are also being nourished at a higher level and are therefore more in tune with their farm and can be better stewards of the land. It just keeps getting better and better.
When one of the crops grown on the farm are grapes, you can imagine that after a number of years of being farmed under Biodynamic guidelines, the grapes begin to truly translate a real sense of the farm on which they are grown. This is the most dramatic effect of biodynamic farming – the sense of place of a certain wine is heightened by this process. The wines develop personalities that are unique to that farm and therefore the wines from each grower are uniquely different as much as the farmers themselves.
What follows is a selection of wines that are all biodynamically produced and registered as such.
 

Interestingly, the wineries that focus on Biodynamic methods are thought of as some of the best wineries in the World. That makes it hard to ignore the greatness that can come from Biodynamic farming. Because of the hard work and attention to detail that is needed to farm this way, the wineries that practice biodynamic farming are also incredibly small in their production levels and are therefore some of the more sought-after wines in our collection.

Andy Chabot
Director of Food and Wine