Biodynamic Viticulture

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

biodynamic viticulture, is, depending on your perspective, an enhanced or extreme form of organic viticulture. This controversial practice has produced some impressive results but without the reassurance of conclusive scientific explanation.

Biodynamics is the oldest ‘green’ farming movement, pre-dating organics by 20 years. It is based on theories described in 1924 by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) for agriculture in general. All biodynamic vineyards practise organic viticulture, but biodynamics differs from organics in three ways. The vineyard should become a self-sustaining individual or ‘farm organism’ (see sustainable viticulture and ecosystem): it should be treated regularly with nine herb- and mineral-based biodynamic ‘preparations’; and key tasks such as planting, pruning, ploughing, picking, and bottling should be timed to harness beneficial ‘formative forces’ exerted by earthly and celestial—planetary, solar, stellar, and especially lunar—rhythms.