Ruud Kleinpaste: What you need to know about biodynamic wine

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Saturday, 13 July 2019, 12:26PM

When we select a bottle of wine to take home for dinner we often do not really think about choosing an organic wine, do we?

Next question: How often do you consider purchasing a biodynamic wine?

I went to the organic/biodynamic viticulture Conference in Blenheim a few weeks ago and was amazed how many wineries are looking after their soil, the biodiversity and carbon in their vineyard.

It makes total sense to have practices that minimize the footprint on the Planet and more and more wine growers “get” that.

What does it mean?

Many different things: No synthetic pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Instead plant in between the rows a host of flowers and crops that feed not just pollinators in the landscape, but also the parasitoids, parasitic wasps and predators that help the growers with pest control inside the developing bunches of grapes. Spoiling pests such as leafrollers and mealybugs.

Growers also use cover crops in between the rows that, when mowed later in the year, provide a heap of carbon stalks that can be recycled back into the soil.

Yep – carbon should be in the soil, not in the air as Carbon Dioxide!

The “chemical” use (only Life-Friendly chemicals!) is the most well-known aspect of organics, of course.

Biodynamics takes it all to a whole different level. It is a practice in not just viticulture, but agriculture/horticulture etc. as well; it is based on the Philosophies of that famous German, Rudolf Steiner, yes the “Steiner School” one!

There are some extra-ordinary key activities and systems that make up the Biodynamic growing practice; things like CPP (Cow Pat Pit, which is exactly what you think it may be!!) and Preparation 500, involving burying a cow’s horn full of cow manure into the ground for 6 months.

The resulting materials are sweet-smelling and well broken down. The nutrient-rich materials are stirred within a lot of water (potentizing the water) and sprayed over the crops.

This “dynamized solution” is designed to enhance plant growth and improve the quality of the crops. The spiritual theory behind it is that this breathes vitality and new life into the earth.

It’s fascinating to watch and to hear all the theories derived from good old Rudolf; as a scientist and long-time spotter of bad science this all sounds a bit religious to me, really, but lately I have started to realise that whatever they’re doing, the results are pretty special (try the wines, for instance!).

But most importantly, when you visit these vineyards you can actually see (and measure) the enhanced biodiversity and remarkable soil conditions. And it is not just that they are drawing the carbon back into the soil, they live with generous values too, both Social and Biological.

So, that’s gotta be a good thing, huh?

A great list of Organic wine producers can be found here: https://www.organicwinenz.com/

And you’ll know quite a large percentage of them, I bet.

Who knew?

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