|Organic, Biodynamic and Sustainable Eco Wines, Part 3: Certified Biodynamic Wine|
|Tuesday, 31 January 2012 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
Another label the green consumer can look for when choosing a wine is the vineyard’s biodynamic certification. Worldwide, there are more than 450 certified biodynamic wine producers and, from my experience, that number is rapidly growing.
The Demeter Association is the singularly recognized international biodynamic certifying body. Farms seeking the Demeter biodynamic certification must meet the same three-year waiting period as those certified organic by the National Organic Program.
Both the organic and biodynamic certifications regulate mainly soil and plants. While organic growing and certification focuses on what farmers do not use in production, biodynamics encompasses what they do use. I see the difference between organic and biodynamic as akin to that between vegetarian and raw vegan. Vegetarians do not eat dead animals. Raw vegans do eat living produce. Yes, raw vegans are also vegetarians, and so most biodynamic farms are also organic. In fact, Demeter offers—through its sister company Stellar Certification Services—a free organic certification to those qualifying for its biodynamic certification.
Biodynamic farming practices and certifications are based in the spiritual/practical philosophy of Rudolph Steiner, called anthroposophy, which integrates the ecological and energetic, as well as spiritual, in nature. The biodynamic philosophy dates back to 1924 and involves managing the farm as a living organism—something that could ideally sustain itself. Through asking questions and reading, I have come to understand biodynamics as a growing practice that unifies the raw, spiritual, environmental and occult. And to me, these practices are more than evident in the finished wine.
An oversimplification of some biodynamic farming practices, in addition to meeting and often exceeding organic standards, is:
During a tasting of some of the most exceptional whites on the central California coast, our pourer at Demetria Estate in Los Olivos, CA, described how he had brought in children from the local Waldorf school to dance amongst their vines one morning. Now, this surely isn’t part of the certification process, but is right in line with the biodynamic philosophy.
As is the case with organic wines, one will be hard-pressed to locate a biodynamically certified wine, but will find biodynamically certified vineyards. This is my experience, at least. And as discussed in Part 2 of this series, reading the wine’s label, asking for certification details, and assuring that the wine you are drinking was produced from the estate’s vineyard are helpful when attempting to actually taste biodynamically grown wines.
As a raw vegan, I am delighted that the wine world, in farming practices, is so far ahead of the food world. I can shop for organically grown produce at the farmers market and health-food stores. But never are my fruits and veggies labeled biodynamic. In wine country, however, biodynamic farming is becoming more and more prevalent as vintners discover that their crops are resilient to pests and disease, and their final product is of a higher quality. In fact, when Fortune conducted a blind tasting of 10 pairs of biodynamic vs. conventionally made wines, judged by seven wine experts including a head sommelier and a Master of Wine, nine of the biodynamic wines were judged superior to their conventional counterparts.
Continue to Part 4: Certified Sustainable Wine
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