Biodynamic: The Rolls Royce of Organic Farming?

If you’ve got an eye to eco-conscious wines, you’ve probably heard of biodynamic wines. But what does it actually mean? My title comes from a description of a wine farmer as quoted in a fascinating 2008 article by SF Weekly exploring the booming trend.

The rise of eco-consciousness towards food, most notably by the organic distinction, has brought new ideas to the age old production of wine. While the organic label on wine seems understandable to most educated consumers, it’s benefits to your palate are less clear.

Biodynamic wine production takes the marketing cache of organic to new levels. Consumers with minimal grasp of the specifics are clamoring for these wines. As SF Weekly reports, wine stores are seeing a surge in interest from buyers and, accordingly, from the wineries themselves.

In short, biodynamic wine is like organic wine on steriods. Well, maybe not steroids, those aren’t too natural. The production process includes an eye towards reusing everything on the winery and avoiding man-made pesticides whenever possible.

The most curious aspect is the mysticism and astrology that weaves through the green method. A particularly strange example involves taking fresh cow skulls, cramming them full of oak wood bark, burying them at the Fall Equinox, digging them out in the spring and then adding bits of the decomposed stuff to the manure to be spread onto the soil above the vines.

Wait, what? You read correct, that’s some real Voodoo practice.

I actually heard reports of this first hand while touring a winery in Napa that proudly touted their certified Biodynamic status as one of only a few wineries in the valley. The tour guide nonchalantly described the burying of the cow horns and remixing the insides with the soil. It sure sounded a lot more glamorous when he glossed over the astrology stuff.

The SF weekly article is definitely worth a full read. It’s another good reminder that wineries will do anything to A) sell more wine and B) stand out in the eyes of the consumers.

As an American Association of Wine Economists study showed that Gold Medals at wine fairs are statistically meaningless, the jury is still out on the actual benefit of Byodynamic.

[Photo credit: The Worldwide Wine]

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