When talking about organic wine, the term “biodynamic” is bound to get thrown around. And while they are not one in the same, they seem to get lumped together quite frequently. So, we thought it was about time we delve into specifics of what the term means and why it isn’t the same as “organic.”
Biodynamic farming was first developed in the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian spiritual philosopher. According to the Grand Reserve article, “What is Natural Wine, Organic Wine, Or Biodynamic Wine?” by Julia Nicholls, “Steiner believed that we should view a vineyard-from the vines to the soil, to the other plants and animals around it-as an ecological whole, its own living organism…Steiner encouraged self-sustainable farming and had ideas that helped increase soil fertility.” Simply put, biodynamics is organic wine taken a step further. Just as organic farming takes into account the life around it by growing without the use of toxic chemical pesticides or herbicides, biodynamic farming then encourages and cultivates a symbiotic biosphere wherein all species depend on and nurture one another. These species include anything from soil types to other plants insects, animals and native yeasts. They then “plant, harvest, and prune based on a precise calendar that takes into account lunar cycles and the position of the sun and planets.”
Like the term “organic,” “biodynamic” is a registered certification and farmers must meet a slew of requirements in order to earn the label. These wines will have approved recognition from the Demeter Association, a branch of the Demeter International nonprofit organized in 1928 following Steiner’s first lectures on biodynamics in agriculture.
In terms of taste, biodynamic wines are very similar to organic wines, as they are produced similarly. However, compared to conventionally produced wine, organically grown wine has been proven to taste much better. This is likely due to the heightened terroir that comes with organically produced wine. “Terroir” loosely translates in English to “sense of place,” and is essentially flavor imparted to wine by a number of factors including soil type, elevation, climate and terrain. So it stands to reason that as organic and biodynamic wines are made in harmony with their surroundings, these flavors would flourish in these wines more than they would in conventionally produced wines.
Nicholls, J. (2020, January 21). What is Natural Wine, Organic Wine, or Biodynamic Wine? Grand Reserve. https://grandreserverewards.com/blog/what-is-natural-wine-organic-wine-or-biodynamic-wine
Clancy, J. (2017, December 19). What’s the Difference Between Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine? Eating Well. https://www.eatingwell.com/article/290693/whats-the-difference-between-organic-biodynamic-and-natural-wine/
Biodynamic Association. Biodynamic Principals and Practices. https://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamic-principles-and-practices
Wine Folly. (2016, March 4). Terroir Definition for Wine. https://winefolly.com/tips/terroir-definition-for-wine/