Like a lot of things that are supposed to be good for you, the danger is that the more you inquire about it, the more you regret that you asked. Well, maybe not in this case. Biodynamic is simply an ultra-organic approach to farming that creates a kind of closed natural system, where all the composted ingredients that go back into the living earth come from the farm itself.
It also stimulates plant growth through homeopathic preparations, sprayed in minute amounts on a variety of crops after being composted in buried female cow horns.
The Rush Limbaughs of the world love the cow horns. They latch on to them, also to the biodynamic method of planting by lunar cycles, to prove that stoned ex-hippies are taking down this great nation one moonstruck bovine adornment at a time.
Hey, biodynamically grown grapes and fruits and broccoli florets don’t much care what Rush, his agri-chemical buddies or anyone else thinks. They’re radiant. The farm is their Cote D’Azur. They bask and eat and grow and thrive. If you’ve ever seen a vigorous biodynamic grapevine in full cluster, you know.
Me, I’ve got some serious doubts about whether biodynamic wine-grape growers, still a scant minority, are making a convincing case to mainstream consumers for the wines that come out of their vineyards. But I have no doubt that their purely organic grapes produce clean, vibrant wines that don’t pollute our streams and air. Mike Benziger, of Benziger Family Winery, compares conventional farming with synthetic inputs to grime on windshields. The chemicals obscure the view—or in this case, the flavors that define a particular place, he argues. He's a terrific biodynamic proponent and pioneer, both—but he doesn't foist his views on anyone.
At a recent biodynamic wine conference, Bonny Doon owner Randall Grahm said that to him, these wines stay fresher longer and don’t produce as many negative personal side effects like headaches. Now that, I thought to myself, is a potential CNN sound bite.
The 100 or so cases I’m producing from my ’07 harvest come from a small farm in Anderson Valley, Mendocino. It’s Segue’s first foray out of the Russian River area, and hardly the last, if these grapes deliver the way they promise to. So far the wine, now in barrel, tastes purely delicious.
If you want to know more about the history and practices of biodynamic farming, please email me. I’ve got a voluminous file.