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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Biodynamics. The new religion.

Q: What is Biodynamics?   
A: Biodynamics = Sustainable farming + marketing.

I'm not in the production side of the wine biz but as I understand it biodynamics is a farming method with two parts.   First, it's similar to organic farming and it's hard to fault taking care of the land, right?   Second, as I see it, biodynamics is a religion.   There is NO science behind doing things like burying a cow's horn in the vineyard and doing things based on moon phase or the location of a constellation in the sky (sounds like astrology to me).

So why is BD becoming a big deal in the vineyards?   Well, there are a few respected names that have jumped in and claimed improvements in their wine.   Or maybe they just want to see improvements.   I don't think anyone outside of Benziger has said Benziger wines have noticeably improved since going biodynamic and because of BD.

Since organic farming is sort of a subset of BD the question becomes, is biodynamic farming better than organic farming?   More specifically, is the whole biodynamic thing with burying stuff like cow dung in the dirt better than using just the organic farming side of BD?    Even though I'm not from Missouri SHOW ME.   Until then admit you're part of a cult with a nice side of free marketing built in.
You want to plant based on the phase
and/or what constellation the moon
resides in.    Really!
Image from utahskies.org

And the response is, "Well, no one has been able to prove it doesn't work."   See, this is the religion part--complete faith in something you can't prove.

The other response is, "It helps the vineyards" and yes it does because organic practices are better. No one is disputing that.  It's great that farmers are getting closer to their land and understanding how things work biologically out there. 

So why not just use the parts of BD that make sense instead of going the whole route to call yourself biodynamic?   Well, it's either for the marketing aspect or it's religious zeal.  Times are tough in the wine biz so it's advantageous to set yourself apart.

If you're still not convinced do some searching on the father of biodynamics--a guy named Steiner.   Not a scientist but a self-proclaimed philosopher and clairvoyant.

I like to know the owner cares about the land.   Farming is hard work, but it's not hocus-pocus. 

When I buy wine I'm honestly torn a bit because I appreciate the folks that claim sustainable farming or organic farming, but I have a bit of difficulty buying biodynamic farmed wine. Not that I don't trust it or anything, just that it seems well, weird.    I'm not against BD, I just don't know why I should be for it.

If you want to read more on both sides of the argument try biodynamic-farming.com and biodynamicshoax.

Wine is a trendy business.  We'll see how long this trend lives.