Polkadraai Road M12
I am very excited about this new addition to our ever growing list of organic wine estates on our site. This is our first biodynamic wine estate to be featured.
Now I am sure a lot of you are asking what a biodynamic vineyard is, or…what the difference is between organic and biodynamic farming practices? These are both valid questions and ones which I will attempt to answer here…
”Bio” refers to biological (organic) aspects of agriculture (soil,water, plants,animals) whereas the
”Dynamic”‘ refers to the cosmic formative forces that underlie the physical world.
One can summarize briefly by using two examples as given by Johan Reyneke, owner:
- A conventional farm focuses on profit
- An organic farm focuses on sustainability
- A biodynamic farm focuses on self sufficiency(of which sustainability is a part)
The second simple example is say all three farms received a fax:
- The conventional farmer will throw the fax in the bin when finished with it
- The organic farmer will recycle it.
- The biodynamic farmer will shred the fax, compost it, feed it to his worm farm and then put back into the soil.
Biodynamic farming is the oldest form of organic farming which has been handed down over generations for millenia and which was then studied, formalised and spread by an Austrian, Rudolph Steiner, in the 1920’s(he also developed and introduced us to the Waldorf education system).
It is a more holistic form of organic farming, with farmers striving to turn their farms into closed, self nourishing systems. So instead of buying in outside fertilizers or manure, for example, they keep their own animals to create the manure and have extensive composting and recycling programs in place to create the fertilizers much the same as organic farming methods.
A recognition that the whole earth is a single, self-regulating, multi-dimensional ecosystem, biodynamic farmers seek to fashion their farms likewise as self-regulating, bio-diverse ecosystems in order to bring health to the land and to their local communities.
Biodynamic farming goes further than other techniques of farming to incorporate all living beings(seen and unseen) into their system and incorporate a unified approach to agriculture that relates the ecology of the farm-organism to that of the entire cosmos by engaging, what some sceptics say, to be somewhat esoteric celestial concepts and which believers say are ancient practices tried and tested with great success through the ages into their farming practices
A biodynamic farmer respects all life…including weeds and pests. Hence nothing is killed and everything is allowed to share the land and is used as information providers to teach the farmer about the health(or lack thereof) and requirements of his farm.
We can compare this to how we look after our own bodies……if a virus or germs(weeds and pests) are present in our bodies, conventional doctors(farmers) try to eradicate this virus or germ by means of antibiotics(pesticides) without looking at the underlying cause. What we should actually be doing(and what biodynamic farmers do) is taking note of what the presence of this pathogen tells us about the state of our physical health and take steps to fix the underlying cause, which in turn realigns our systems back to optimal health.
It is not only possible to live in harmony with all living beings on this planet…in fact it is the only way if we are to survive in the long term.
I hope that this provides you with an inkling into the mindset of a biodynamic farmer.
Now on to Reyneke Wines and the man himself Johan Reyneke. Since 1998 Johan has moved from farming conventionally to farming organically and finally to farming and producing his wines in accordance with biodynamic principles. Reyneke is currently the only certified biodynamic winemaker in SA and Johan is considered somewhat of a pioneer in this country.(There are over 500 vineyards certified worldwide)
Now, the benefits to us and our environment of biodynamic and organic winemaking are enormous and quite obvious and we have discussed these in previous articles, but what are the benefits to the wines themselves?
The aim for Reyneke has always been to express the uniqueness of the farm’s ‘terroir’ – the deep soil dotted with early stone age hand axes; the vines- some 40 years old; the crisp upland air, the cooling south easterly breezes, the unique mesoclimate of his vineyards – into the bottle. Johan believes that it is impossible to sense this ‘terroir’ if you are constantly changing it with chemicals.
“The intention here is to interfere as little as possible, to allow nature to be the real maker of the wine and to truly produce terroir specific wines of the highest quality.”
It seems to be working as the awards that they are accumulating are too numerous to mention here. Just last month all 6(4 reds, 2 whites) of his wines scored between 90 and 94 points out of 100 in the Wine Advocate, a prestigious American wine publication that rates wines from around the world, with no advertising or sponsors. Some of the highest ever for SA wines! They also received a 5 star rating in the 2011 John Platter for the Reyneke Reserve Red 2008.
As a special offer for the launch of this wine estate onto our site we are offering one of our readers a 3 bottle case of his superlative wines…each and every one of them a 90+ scoring wine. These wines are rarer than a try scoring springbok these days!
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Many thanks to Johan for the input and the wine.
Photographs courtesy of Bellananda