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Organic vs. Biodynamic: what you need to know

Organic vs. Biodynamic: what you need to know

When it comes to the terms “organic”, “biodynamic”, “vegan” or “natural” we know things can get a bit confusing. We have previously talked about “vegan” wines (click here to read the full post), so we hope we have made some clarity on that point. 

But, probably a few of you still have problems finding the differences between biodynamic and organic wines and some others just simply believe they are the same thing. Not to worry, the Onshore Cellars team is here to help!

 

Let’s talk about Organic wines

So let’s start from the beginning, what does organic mean?

To be precise we need to break this concept into two categories, wine that's organic and wine made with organically grown grapes.

The first category refers to the wines that are made with grapes that are grown without using synthetic fertilisers and all the other bits going into these wines (including the yeasts) must be certified organic. Plus no sulphites can be added. 

On the other hand, in the group that is “made with organically grown grapes”,the wine must be made entirely from certified organic grapes however, other ingredients used in the making process don't need to be organic. 

 

Biodynamic, a holistic approach to viticulture

Now that we know a bit more about organic wines, we can start covering the amazing world of “biodynamic” wines. In a nutshell, the idea behind biodynamics is that everything in the universe is interconnected and has a "vibe". Essentially, the idea of biodynamic viticulture is to find the right balance between the vines, the grower, the earth and the stars. 

Some people find this holistic view of agriculture a bit difficult to understand, however, this practice has been going on for more than a century and many reputed growers and “wine gurus" believe it benefits the result of the wine. 

Rudolph Steiner, an Austrian philosopher launched the idea of Biodynamic farming in the 1920's and has gained more adepts little by little. But how does this concept work in practice? Well, it affects the entire winemaking process, from planting, pruning, to harvesting. 

 

The calendar 

The biodynamic calendar is divided into four categories, Root, Fruit, Flower and Leaf Days and each one is associated with the classic elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water. 

What does this mean in terms of the run of the winery? 

  • Fruit days - this is the best moment for harvesting the grapes
  • Root days - these are the best days for pruning 
  • Flower days - the best in this case is don't do any work at the winery on these days
  • Leaf days - perfect for watering

 

According to the calendar, you don't confuse these days, otherwise you could end up with rotten grapes!

The reason why a lot of people think that "biodynamic" and "organic" wines are the same is that sulphites, chemicals and other components must not be used when producing biodynamic wines. The fact is that a fair amount of organic wines, follow biodynamic practices, but they are not necessarily certified. 

Ultimately, the idea that we need to keep in mind when talking about this philosophy is that the most important is to find balance as a whole and be in harmony with nature.

If you are intrigued about the biodynamic concept, there are a few apps that you can download and test it yourself! (When Wine Tastes Best)

And of course, the best way to get to know some of the producers following these practices is to try some incredible wines from our cellar, here are a few to start:

Happy drinking!

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