Sustainable, Organic, and what the hell is Biodynamic®?

Not too long ago I was asked to present a couple wines in an online forum.  Even though I have a true love/hate relationship with forums I took up the offer. Both wines were great Pinots from the Russian River Valley, both come sustainably farmed vineyards and both brought up a heated discussion.


Now, I will be honest I brought Biodynamic terminology up so the blame can rest on my shoulders.  The winery I was presenting happens to employ Biodynamic farming on its estate vineyards (not with the wines I was presenting but someone in the crowd had done their homework when it came to the winery) and so the questions were posed:

Do you bury crystals in the dirt? Harvest on full moons? Spray your vines with various animal carcasses/other plants? Dance naked in a barrel of eels? 

And so I had a half hearted chuckle and knew that there was a battle coming.  Feel free to read the rest of the thread to see how it all went down.  For a run down on Biodynamics you can also head to Demeter’s website.

For this project I had to put my company hat onto try to be relatively PC about the situation but personally I don’t put too much stake in the “voodoo.”  Biodynamics is a bit if a pseudo-religion crossed with solid farming practices.  I get lost as soon as you start talking energies of the sun, moon, quartz crystals, cow horns and the memories that these and other materials involved in Biodynamics might have… yes memories.  What I do take from it are some of the farming practices, particularly the materials used in the preps and the nutrient-rich fertilizers that are created as a result.  There is no doubt in my mind that some of these procedures are good, even great, for the vineyards and I don’t think that anyone would try to argue that Biodynamics is bad.  Is it better than organic farming? Better than traditional or sustainable farming methods?

I don’t know about better, but different? Sure.  One of the great things about the wine industry is that there is no “best.” Farming, production, speculator points or otherwise, just different.  There are definitely those out there that have some sort of vendetta against Biodynamics, scores etc for reasons we may never understand.  I equate those conversations to having a political discussion with someone who HAS to have the last word, everybody loses in the end.  If those Biodynamic wines are more expensive and you don’t want to pay the extra premium, if you think the philosophy is a total hoax then don’t buy them.  If you think that scores are useless don’t use them, but you also shouldn’t be telling people that they are wrong in purchasing those wines.  You don’t want to be the one that doth protests too much.

With that I will get off of my soapbox.  Though, I figure if Biodynamic farming is good enough for DRC (amongst many others), it can’t be all bad.

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