POD 4: What is Biodynamics?
Biodynamics is a way of farming that is like ‘organic +’. A farm must already be certified organic to go biodynamic. Biodynamic farming and winemaking are stricter than organic farming and winemaking.
Biodynamics goes beyond quantifiable rules. It is a philosophy, a way of farming that seeks to respect life and works to support life forces.
Put simply biodynamics is three things:
- Thinking of the farm as a whole-farm system, like a living thing that seeks to be self-sufficient
- Working with plant and animal-based preparations and teas to increase health and natural immunity and to solve specific problems
- Working with the biodynamic lunar calendar that plots the earth’s movements in relation to the moon, planets and constellations – think of the effect the moon has on sea tides and the imagine its effect on water content and flow in a plant
Biodynamics at Chateau Feely
Biodynamics at Chateau Feely
The Feelys started the biodynamic road in 2007 as a way of finding a solution to downy mildew and after reading a book by Nicolas Joly, a leading figure in the world of biodynamic wine. It worked. Today the copper dose at Chateau Feely over a five-year average is less than a quarter of what it was at the start and half the maximum allowed by Demeter; and the farm has no major fungal disease problems. The vines’ disease resistance has increased.
Biodynamics offered a practical point solution to disease but over time it delivered much more, including a better balance and harmony in Feely wines.
Background information on biodynamics
The father of biodynamics: Rudolf Steiner
The father of biodynamics Rudolf Steiner gave the Agriculture Course that forms the backbone of biodynamics in a series of lectures in 1924. He based his course on observation and research and interrogation of ancient methods and peasant farming. To gain a proper grasp on biodynamic farming as a agricultural professional it’s important to read Steiner’s book ‘Agriculture Course’ available free online and as a paid paper or kindle version.
Legislation and biodynamics
Organic farming and its certification is legislated at the EU level. Biodynamic certification is not yet covered by EU legislation so each certification body sets its own standards that always include the key biodynamic preparations and are stricter than the EU organic standard.
The concept of life forces in biodynamics
The concept of Spirit, energy and life force
Part of biodynamics is also being aware that everything works based on energy flows. This is the spiritual aspect of biodynamics, the part that takes into account life forces, things we cannot see. At Chateau Feely we chose the triskell as our logo for biodynamics and also for our celtic roots. The triskell is thought to represent the forces of life as well as other symbols.
Biodynamic wine offers a connection with the earth where the bottle originated, its terroir, when you visit you connect with the farm and the team at Chateau Feely and when you share a bottle of wine to connect with others. The spirit and energy of people is also part of why biodynamics recommends hand harvesting rather than machine harvesting. Since 2014 everything at Chateau Feely is hand-harvested, it’s good for quality and for our wines, but also for the team at Chateau Feely.
Biodynamics: famous in the wine world but valid for all farming
Biodynamics has garnered significant attention in the wine world. Top vineyards like Domaine Romanee Conti in Burgundy and Chateau Pontet Canet in Medoc are certified organic and biodynamic. Many top restaurants focus on biodynamic wine. But biodynamics is not just for wine, it is also for food. Try biodynamic carrots compared to organic and chemically farmed carrots and you will taste the difference.
We invite you to come and learn more about biodynamic farming and winemaking with a visit to Chateau Feely in South West France ; stay with us or do a multi day course or multi day tour . You can read about the story of our biodynamic farm the series includes three books Grape Expectations; Saving our Skins and Glass Half Full by Caro Feely. Join our mailing list to receive our seasonal newsletter, events, wine pairing, recipes and more info on this topic at the bottom right of this page.