By: Claudia Elze Weersing
I became a practitioner of Bio dynamics in 2000. At first I was a complete sceptic and felt that so much didn’t make sense to me. Using the Lunar Calendar and reading as much as I could at this busy time of planting 23,000 vines I quickly realised the best approach was to trial a few things so I could at least see the difference.
It all started with compost for me. I grew up making compost with my father on the weekends but bio dynamic compost was different.
I started with four heaps of compost. The hay, manure, fresh cut grass and some lime all from our farm was used in each of the heaps. Two of the heaps had the Bio Dynamic preparations and the other two didn’t. After turning these heaps regularly for four months it was clear that the two heaps with the Bio dynamic preparations had the best result. These two heaps were completely broken down to the most amazing, fluffy, wormy matter I had ever seen. I had never seen this before making compost. I knew at that moment something Rudolf Steiner had created, which I though was a bit “out there” had something to offer.
The vineyard and farm from the beginning in 2000 had not only the 500 application added (cow horn) but we started using 501(quartz crystal) and a few other preparations across the property. Considering how busy we were pulling weeds by hand, planting and general management in the vineyard I felt overwhelmed by all the offerings and practices that can be used within the bio dynamic program.
This is where Mike’s experience in Burgundy with Biodynamics really shone through in teaching me that we only needed to add what the property required.
By 2004 all composting preparations were being made on our farm, cow pat pit and 500 were being produced, all from the animals and offerings from our farm.
After our first year of intense physical work, I had suggested to Mike that we convert to using organic sprays rather than the bio dynamic work and his response was “in order to get the healthiest fruit with the healthiest yeast for the best fermentations we need to look after our soil the best way possible”. So, bio dynamics is what we continued with. It took me four years of bio dynamic work at Pyramid Valley to understand what our soils and vines needed.
Suddenly not only did we become grape growers but we became soil growers and we observed dramatic changes in the quality of our soils over this journey. The difficult weeds we dealt with in the early years had vanished and new soft beneficial weeds appeared. We have never introduced cover crops to our farm as it was never needed. I too learned that rather than me trying to control our vines and our soil it was time for me to observe and guide our farm into a direction where all plants, animals and humans had a rhythm where things would progress naturally.
By 2006, our first vintage, we took the lunar calendar work into our wine making. This would allow for our fruit to react naturally with the cosmos. We have no intention to change this method. Year after year we become more in tune with our wines as we nurture them to their place of balance and harmony in order to best express our site and season.
Today, we are fully certified Bio dynamic. Our cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, dogs , cats and vineyard family share in the journey of Bio dynamics and benefit from the gifts it gives.