What is the difference between organic and biodynamic?
Ok most people understand the basics of organics, no use of synthetic herbicides
pesticides fertilizers etc. Sourcing nutrients and compounds needed to grow your
produce from natural and sustainable sources and being as self contained as possible.
Biodynamics, sometimes referred to as 'enhanced organic' or 'super-charged organic',
is all of the above but goes further. It employs an overlaying philosophy that comes
from the teachings of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner back
in the 1920’s. His is a holistic approach to agriculture, where all animals, plants
and the solar system are thought of as living inter-related system that impact on
"we are helping wines catch the climate and
Nicolas Joly » renowned French biodynamic winemaker
In practical terms, biodynamic agriculture focuses on having healthy,
alive, nutrient rich soils and a well balanced environment to allow the plant to
harness everything it needs to grow. It uses specific herb and mineral preparations
to achieve this – quite similar to homeopathy. These preparations are used to enhance
the vitality of plants, soils, composts and livestock. One of the main preparations
is called preparation 500 or cow horn manure. It is produced by
burying cow manure in a cow horn over winter, digging it up in spring, stirring
the resultant rich humus in water to dynamise it and spraying it over your vineyard.
Manual/ mechanical weed control, nontoxic pest management, and sustainable animal
husbandry are also employed.
"It’s just such a satisfying way to farm."
John Nagorcka » Hochkirch Winery
Biodynamic also teaches that all specific vineyard and winery operations should
be timed to coincide optimally with cosmic rhythms, particularly lunar cycles.
This concept is a bit harder to grasp for most of us. But in very basic layman's
terms, just as the moon influences the tides, it also influences water in plants
"Biodynamic grapes are a great expression of
terroir and a sense of place"
Vanya Cullen » Cullen Wines
So you can see that some people might perceive biodynamics to be a bit whacky,
but anything that we don’t yet have the knowledge to fully explain can be seen as
whacky. I think the farmers/grape-growers that are walking around their properties
everyday and observing what is happening are the best ones to judge, and the rate
at which more and more of them are burying their cow horns is quite convincing!
"But I believe, in well made biodynamic wines,
I can taste a difference. I can taste a liveliness on my tongue that really is quite
different from conventionally grown wines."
Max Allen » 2008 Sydney International Wine Competition
From a non-practising biodynamicist, this is my brief attempt to explain the basics
of biodynamics, it is quite an intriguing topic. There are many websites that can
add further to the discussion; such as
» Max Allen's biodynamic wine website
» Grgich Hills Estate