Biodynamic guide

This is a brief, layman’s guide to the major treatments and their uses, as employed by wine producers who follow biodynamic principles. All preparations – sometimes known as ‘teas’ or ‘slurries’ – are diluted with water: water that has been stirred in a special machine (that looks like a small, rotating basket press) that creates a dynamising vortex: the mixture is dissolved evenly in the water, and microbiological activity is promoted.

Preparation Mixture Use Frequency
500 Manure from organically-farmed cows, fermented in a cow horn, and buried in the vineyard over winter. To improve health of the soil and promote root activity. Sprayed on as a dilution, two to four times per year.
501 Ground quartz rocks (silica) dynamised with water, placed in a cow horn, and buried in the vineyard over winter. Spray a dilution on vine leaves to aid photosynthesis, and colour, flavour and health of grapes. up to four times per year in early morning.
502 Dried flower heads from the Yarrow plant buried in a stag’s bladder, hung in the sun over summer, and buried in the vineyard over winter. Added to compost to help vines absorb trace elements.
503 Dried chamomile flowers, buried in the vineyard over winter in the intestine of an organic cow. Added to compost to improve soil life and plant growth.
504 A tea made from stinging nettles which have been buried over winter in neutral container. Added to compost to stimulate soil and give nutrients to the plant, and sometimes sprayed directly onto vines as a protective and nourishing element. As required
505 Ground bark from oak trees, buried in the skull of a farm animal (sheep, cow, pig, etc – but must be organic). Added to compost to guard against pests and fungal diseases.
506 Dried dandelion flowers, matured in a cow’s mesentery (peritoneum connecting the small intestine to the wall of the abdominal cavity). Buried in the compost pile, it benefits acid and potassium in the vine.
507 Valerian flowers (often used as a sedative in herbal medicine) are soaked and their juice released. Buried into, and sprayed over the compost heap, it protects the vine from cold and helps grapes ripen.
508 A tea made from the herb horestail. Sprayed over the plant to guard against diseases, particularly fungal diseases. As required, sprayed mid-morning.

As well as these preparations, the traditional ‘Bordeaux mix’ spray of copper sulphate and lime is allowed as an extra protection against mildew, as it is applied in minute quantities.

The other important aspect of applying these biodynamic preparations (and indeed of all work in the vineyard and cellars) is the calendar, particularly the influences of the moon, planets and constellations on plant growth. Each month the moon moves through the twelve constellations of the zodiac. The twelve zodiac signs are associated with the each of the four elements: earth, water, air and fire. in turn these are phases in which it is beneficial to work with the vines roots (earth), leaves (water), flowers (air) and fruit (fire).

Biodynamic Alsace – Alsace’s bio producers profiled.

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