Biodynamics : a unique mindset
What with organic growing, biodynamics, HVE (high environmental value) certification and sustainable viticulture, all aimed at producing cleaner, healthier products, it is difficult to get a handle on it all!
But the differences between them are significant and sometimes of a complex technical nature.
Sustainable viticulture reduces the use of certain products. For the HVE certification, this is complemented by a reduction in polluting practices more generally. HVE is also based on performance indicators relating to biodiversity as well as fertilisation and irrigation management.
In organic growing, no synthetic chemical products can be used in the vineyards. "Natural" products such as copper and sulphur are allowed, but quite a few of the products used in the vinification process are reduced or banned.
So, what about biodynamics?
It follows the same specifications as organic growing but with even greater restrictions.
Looking beyond the practices involved in these different types of production, there are also various production doctrines that we could compare to medicine…
To begin with, there is conventional growing compared to allopathic medicine (science-based, modern medicine). This type of growing permits the use of all practices and products, both in viticulture or vinification. It aims to treat the symptom (but not the cause) with any amount of medication.
Sustainable practices can be compared to “reasoned” allopathy. The principle is to treat the organism only if the symptoms observed are serious enough. The doctor will dose the medication according to the severity of the condition, as well as the age and weight of the patient. It is the same with viticulture, but without prohibiting the use of any particular products.
Organic growing, which is certified by independent bodies, is still allopathic but without any synthetic chemicals. Basically, the principle of the treatment of symptoms remains.
As for biodynamics, it can be compared to Chinese medicine. Its principle consists of rebalancing the body to prevent diseases. Biodynamics is particularly interested in the soil, it uses dynamized composts based on the principle of homeopathy. In medicine, this is similar to the holistic approach, which consists of taking into account the whole person, rather than just treating an organ, a disease or the symptoms of a disease. It is the same with the plant. “Biodynamists” see the vine as part of an overall eco-system that governs the interaction between the plant, the mineral, the animal and even the environment as a whole, including the influence of the moon. They have their feet in the earth and their heads in the stars!