An article in the dining section of SF (San Fransisco) Weekly gives a journalist’s perspective on biodynamic wine production. I found it indirectly from a link on the Waldorf Review facebook page.
People here in Gloucestershire still can’t accept what biodynamics is and yet it goes on around us – 50 acres of land are farmed biodynamically in the area, and the preparations and rituals used are the same in California and the world over.
I have already reblogged a vegan’s view of biodynamics, but this piece gives more (gruesome) detail about what the process really involves. Author Joe Eskanazi describes a family vineyard “steeped in the occult and bad science”.
I recommend reading the informative and interesting article which lifts the lid on a subject many wine merchants and their customers do not want to know about in detail.
He starts with a drive in the chief gardener’s truck;
“…with every bump in the road, a bovine nose protruded momentarily from the bed…The bull’s eyes stared serenely skyward while its majestic horns barely fit within the truck bed. A calf’s head, shorn of its jaw muscles, bounced around alongside it…the severed heads were a vital ingredient in Biodynamic Preparation No. 505.” (There is a picture to illustrate the point.)
He then moves to a winery in Sonoma County where nearly half the wines are biodynamic, yet the sellers do not disclose any details about the method of production, simply saying it is “ultra-organic”.
In an article openly critical of the astrology, alchemy, occult rituals, and use of dead animal parts intrinsic in biodynamic production, he says
“Clearly, Biodynamic wines’ sign is ascending – even if no one involved in making or selling them wants to volunteer information about the severed cows’ heads or a bevy of other animal and vegetable preparations that read like a shopping list for Shakespeare’s three weird sisters.”
The descriptions used by winemakers are “almost wilfully obtuse”.
(Ring any bells with other Steiner followers’ descriptions…?)
The founder of the vineyard says
” …drawing attention to its supernatural aspects, such as those severed cows’ heads freaks people out… Explaining the method of production for [Preparation No. 505] is particularly difficult in any public forum and is usually avoided by those representing Biodynamics.”
There is another very telling statement from the same grower about why it is best not to tell people about the anthroposophy in biodynamics;
“…the winemaker avoids explaining that Steiner felt Biodynamics was viable only because of cosmic forces from above, spirit beings living in the Earth and air, and his clairvoyant ability to simply know it was so. “One of the things you have to be careful about is overprojecting information to people before they’re ready,” Benziger says. “Look into history. There have always been initiates, and no one is willing to tell a novice secrets about the way the world works.”
So consumers are not fit to be told about why biodynamics *works*; we wouldn’t understand ; we are not initiates, not clairvoyant and not *ready*.
Yes, and that’s also why parents are not told about anthroposophy in Steiner schools. Only when we are ready to be assimilated into the cult are we fit to be honoured with the details.
There are fascinating snippets about Steiner and anthroposophy in general, including a comparison of biodynamic growers’ belief that it has prevented hurricanes with the “fundamentalist mindset” of those believe the 9/11 attacks were a result of god’s displeasure with certain members of society.
Also a note that some elements of biodynamics “cloak themselves in the vestiges of scientific validity — and fail.”Eskanazi looks at the suggestion that the phases of the moon may affect the growth of plants, and explains why “… while it may be logical, it’s not true.”
The alchemy is also dismissed.
Surprisingly criticism of biodynamics is not “rippling through the wine world” according to the article, despite the many winemakers who feel it is “wacky and a cult”. No-one wants to burn their bridges in such a big money industry.
I find it ironic in an age where people are more and more concerned about how the food they eat is produced, that biodynamic wine, a luxury item, is allowed to slip through the net and simply call itself the “Rolls Royce of organic farming” without consumers troubling themselves with the gory details.
We are prepared to pay more for food produced with high animal welfare standards – free range eggs for example, and worry about the use of leather and furs, but are generally not curious about how animals are used in this cosmic “voodoo” version of agriculture.
Well worth reading the whole article.