Is biodynamic viticulture the evolution of organic viticulture?
We can better understand biodynamic viticulture, as the natural evolution of ecological viticulture , which we can define in the following cadence: conventional, integrated, ecological and biodynamic viticulture.
An illustrative example to make the concept of biodynamic viticulture understood: biodynamic viticulture is to conventional viticulture, like homeopathic or natural medicine to conventional medicine.
Some definitions to clarify the issue and put ourselves in a situation of biodynamic viticulture:
Conventional Viticulture: It is traditional viticulture. It is based on the use of all existing products, both natural and those from industry: insecticides, herbicides, fungicides …
Integrated Viticulture : Combines the use of agrochemicals compatible with the environment, together with the use of traditional techniques, with the aim of obtaining a quality product compatible with the environment. Fewer chemicals are used than in the conventional one.
Ecological Viticulture: Synthetic chemical products are replaced by others compatible with ecological agriculture, obtaining products without any pesticides or artificial fertilizers.
Biodynamic Viticulture: Basically the soil is treated as a living being, in which the vine plant is considered as one more element of the soil and where the contributions have a direct impact on the plant. The products used are only biodynamic preparations and are applied taking into account the biodynamic astral calendar and the influence of the energies of the universe in the vineyard.
Precision Viticulture: We can say that this type of viticulture uses all the current techniques necessary to be able to produce the desired type of grape. Always in very high quantity and with overproduction systems, and with the quality that the winemaker asks of us. It is an optimization of viticulture in quantity and also in quality. For this, satellite images, gps positioning, geological maps …, and everything that current technology offers us is used.
Ecological Wine: It is the wine that results from making grapes from organic viticulture.
Biological Wine: It is the same as organic wine.
Biodynamic Wine: It is the result of the conventional production of grapes from biodynamic viticulture.
Natural Wine: It is the result of the elaboration of the grapes that come from the biodynamic viticulture continued in the winery. Let’s say it is a biodynamic way of making wine. It is one more step of biodynamism. One of its most important premises is the NO addition of sulfur (antimicrobial and antioxidant) in the wine-making process.
What is biodynamic viticulture?
Biodynamic viticulture arises from the theories of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner , by the manifesto of several viticulturists and winemakers of the loss of quality in their wines and the lack of biological activity in their soils due to the excessive pressure of conventional viticulture.
The concept is a bit philosophical , since it treats the “soil-vineyard-climate” environment as a single entity in which the impact on any of these substrates will manifest itself directly, since everything is connected by the energy of the universe. .
In essence, what biodynamic viticulture aims to do is restore biological life to the vineyard and connect it with its environment; herbicides are not used and vegetation is allowed to grow freely between the rows of vines. With animal excrement, natural fertilizers are made that are introduced into cow horns that are buried to later energize them in water and apply them to the vineyard. Plants and infusions are also used in homeopathic quantities. And all these treatments strictly follow a biodynamic calendar (that of María Thun) that designates the ideal days and times for planting, pruning, collecting, etc.
Concept of energy in the universe and influence in the vineyard, what is real in all this?
The influence of the moon on the tides, on humans, and on plants is known. It makes sense, both people and plants are largely made up of water, and the effects of the moon are obvious.
But … what happens when the problems of fertilization and treatment of pests and diseases arise? In biodynamic viticulture, the use of chemical synthesis products is totally prohibited, furthermore, only biodynamic preparations can be used .
And…, what is the solution that biodynamic viticulture offers us?
The basis is the cohabitation of all living beings, balancing the vineyards in their environment, fighting against weeds, sowing others, and fertilizing and treating with biodynamic preparations, all using an astral biodynamic calendar , which tells us which operations are carried out. we can do it every day, depending on the location of the planets.
In practice, biodynamism is the sum of organic agriculture and a series of activities that incorporate preparations that take into account cosmic influences.
Is biodynamic viticulture economically profitable for a winery?
There is a clear current trend towards biodynamic cultivation , but there are still very few wineries that practice it. On the contrary, there are many organic vineyards and wines . In fact, it is one of the most important premises for opening a market outside of Spain, since in Europe there is a much more developed awareness of organic farming .
More and more producers are betting on this system, which combines respect for the environment, quality and economic profitability. The objective is to produce good wine. From my point of view, in biodynamic viticulture, one starts from an ideal concept to obtain a wine that fully expresses the characteristics of the “terroir” and the terroir, but no more than in organic viticulture.
There is a confusion in the great market between biological, ecological and biodynamic viticulture, which in many cases is believed to be the same. Currently, the extra price per liter of natural wine does not compensate for the extra effort and hours invested. However, in organic viticulture, yes .
Currently you do not get a great difference in price, but it is a way to distinguish yourself and position yourself. There are many wineries that use biodynamic viticulture as part of their marketing strategy .
We can affirm that currently, the concept of biodynamic viticulture is not associated with the profitability of a wine farm. It is rather a concept, a way of being, an attitude towards the environment and the cosmos and in which the economic result is not an important part .
Going green involves a change in work routines and, more importantly, in mindset. Then, go to biodynamic, it is only about 10 extra days of work per year for each Ha., Approximately.
What is the Legislation on Biodynamic Viticulture in Spain ?.
Biodynamic Viticulture is not legislated in Spain.
There is an international organization called DEMETER, which is the only ecological association that has established an International network of Independent Biodynamic Certification Bodies.