Biodynamic wines are produced considering the influence the stars and the moon have on living beings.
You've probably heard of biodynamic wines. You've probably tasted one without even knowing it. It's important to know that biodynamic agriculture doesn't influence the final product in a significant way. Biodynamic wines taste just like regular wine, although some argue they are purer and express the terroir better than regular wines.
What is relevant is the way they are produced and the timing of the different processes.
Biodynamic agriculture is a holistic way of looking at life, in which the entire ecosystem is intertwined: crops, vineyards, flora and fauna, biodiversity. From this perspective, it is considered that everything that comes out of the earth should return to the earth; nothing should be wasted. And the influence of the stars, particularly the moon, is taken into account in the activities and processes to be carried out both in the vineyard and in the winery.
In a way, biodynamic agriculture has been present in our lives since ancient times. It may sound a bit esoteric, but in 1920 the Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner scientifically investigated the interrelationship of ecosystems.
Biodynamics is guided by the phases of the moon and other celestial bodies.
In organic farming, the focus is on caring for the vineyard, limiting the number of chemicals allowed. Biodynamics goes one step further, focusing as well on the processes and their timing, so its complexity is much greater.
Eight preparations are used as fertilizer and as protection of the vineyards. They are master recipes to be spread on the ground or applied as a spray. In this way, the soil is prepared and oxygenated, root growth is encouraged, the biochemical processes of the plant are improved, and maturation and ripening enhance, among other advantages. The ingredients used are entirely natural: chamomile, valerian, yarrow, nettle, oak bark, dandelion, valerian, cow horns, and silica are the main ones.
Biodynamics is guided by the phases of the moon and other celestial bodies. That is why they follow a very structured calendar where specific activities must be carried out to take full advantage of the stars' effects on crops are specified day by day.
Maria Thun built on Steiner's theories and observed that the moon passes through a different sign of the zodiac every two or three days. It was she who made the first calendar back in the 1950s.
Thus, the calendar is divided into four types of days, which in turn are related to the constellations and the signs of the zodiac:
Fruit days are the best days for harvesting—the fire signs when the moon is in Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius.
Leaf days are the perfect days to water because the leaf will produce more chlorophyll. On those days, the moon is in Pisces, Cancer, or Scorpio, the water signs.
Root days are the chosen days for pruning. As you have probably already guessed, these are the days when the moon is in Virgo, Taurus, or Capricorn, earth signs.
Flower days: on these days, you must not work or intervene in the vineyard. The plant is left to follow its natural course without altering its processes. So it is when the moon is in Aquarius, Libra, or Gemini, the air signs.
The harvest is the culminating moment of the year, and extreme care must be taken. Planning is the best way to be successful and save time.
In biodynamic agriculture, the harvest occurs before dawn so that the heat does not damage the fruit; if it is not possible, isothermal trucks must be used for transportation.
It is a 100% manual process. First, only the most healthy bunches are collected; the others are discarded. Then, the grapes are carefully placed in 15 or 20kg boxes to prevent them from being crushed and prevent the must coming into contact with oxygen.
In the winery, the grapes are treated with the utmost care to avoid fermentations that could spoil the quality of the wine.
Demeter is the leading and best-known institution that issues biodynamic wine certificates. To obtain one of these certifications, certain conditions must be met: all types of chemical fertilizers are prohibited; genetically modified microorganisms cannot be used; do not use non-permitted clarifiers; prioritize gravity methods to clarify wine in the cellar; do not rectify the results of the harvest; use of native yeasts; minimal or no use of sulfur to stabilize.
A biodynamic wine must show the Demeter certification against it.
Are biodynamic wines better than traditional ones? Some may be, some may not. It depends on your own preferences and taste. They follow rigorous processes, which can make the product more expensive. Furthermore, avoiding chemicals results in a purer product in harmony with the environment.
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