Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-
What about the label do you look at when you are buying wine? Do you concern yourself with the varietal? The vintage? Maybe you like a particular region. Many wine drinkers are concerned with the footprint being left by their wine, and the chemicals used in the process. These and other consumers are leaning toward organic wines.
When looking at organic wines you may come across biodynamic wines, too. This is a sector of the wine industry that has exploded over the past several years as people’s awareness of the environment has increased.
Here are ten facts to introduce you to biodynamic wines and agriculture.
- Biodynamic Agriculture uses sustainable practices – those farming practices which have the smallest effect on the land, animals, communities and health of the area where they are grown.
- All biodynamic wines are organic, but not all organic wines are biodynamic. Organic agriculture is farming that does not use pesticides or any other chemicals in the growth or production of food and plants. Biodynamic agriculture is organic but also includes other components beyond a lack of chemicals. No biodynamic wines are vegan as the skulls, horns, bladders and other parts of animals are used in the preparation process.
- Austrian Rudolf Steiner is credited with the popularity of biodynamic farming. In the 1920’s Steiner, a philosopher, began promoting the idea that the increased industrialization of farming would damage the earth and eventually lead to its destruction. He believed in holistic approaches to all things, including farming, by melding the spiritual with the physical and treating farms as one sustainable organism. The farm, including all of its land, people, animals and processes, are treated as vital components of this organism which is treated with a balance of spirituality, ethics, and sustainability to yield what Steiner believed were responsible, healthy products and retain soil health. Biodynamics was born from Steiner’s particular philosophical development, anthroposophy. Asked to talk to farmers about decreasing soil and food quality, Steiner gave a series of lectures in 1924 entitled, “Agriculture Course” – it is believed that these lectures sparked the movement.
- The largest number of biodynamic farms are found in Germany, where Steiner first lectured on the topic. Biodynamic vineyards exist throughout all of the world’s major wine regions.
- A wine made with biodynamic grapes is different from a biodynamic wine. Biodynamic wine, which will be certified by Demeter, not only grows the grapes biodynamically but also uses processes which follow the rules of biodynamics. This means that biodynamic wines often look different – less clear or even cloudy and with a different color than what is usually seen. No yeast or other materials are added to the wine to enhance color, flavor or clarity. If the bottle says, “Made with biodynamically grown grapes” but does not contain the Demeter badge, the wine is not biodynamic.
- Biodynamic agriculture relies on natural forces of the world, like lunar phase and position in a particular constellation, to schedule planting and harvesting. Depending on which part of a crop is used (seed, root, leaf and stem, or flower) it is planted and harvested at a different time.
- Biodynamics uses preparations, fertilizers and treatments made of natural products like manure, herbs and minerals, to treat the soil. Over time these can change the health of the soil, inoculate the plant life growing in it and inhibit certain microorganisms from growing thus creating better soil for what is being produced. The preparations begin with 500 and run through 508. Each preparation is placed into a particular vessel, allowed to mature, and then used on the soil. 500 and 501 are field treatments while 502-508 are used to prepare compost.
- Biodynamics and its principals are accessible to non farmers through a variety of organizations’ free resources for interested people. Whether it’s a free introductory course based in Oregon in the United States or paying for recordings from national conferences. There are also scholarships available for those who wish to learn more from sources requiring payment but with limited funds.
- Demeter, a German organization, designates the veracity of all products claiming to be biodynamically grown and produced and provides labeling to certify these products. While not just wines, you can search their database to find biodynamic wines by starting here. The database can also be sorted by country, livestock, product and many more categories.
- Biodynamicists believe that even when you drink wine should be based on the biodynamic calendar and that biodynamic wine should not be drunk during a full moon but rather a crescent.
While not developed by a scientist nor tested enough to see the long term impact of biodynamic farming and processes on the wine, there is definitely a case to be made for lower impact, humane, ethical products including wine. The next time you pick up a few bottles, why not try a biodynamic wine?
About the Author: Although not having any formal training in wine, Tim Edison has a deep love for wine and anything that has to do with it. Coming from a family of wine lovers, he developed this passion from an early age and has since had the chance to visit many of the notable wine regions throughout the world, and likes to share these experiences with his readers.