Sunday, 16 November 2014

Attila and the Cow Horns

Now that the harvest has finished we are busy tidying up the vineyard and preparing for next year. This of course includes burying our cow horns, filled with dung from a lactating cow, which will form the basis of biodynamic preparation 500.

Biodynamics is an advanced form of organic viticulture. "Bio" means life and "Dynamics" means energy. It's an holistic approach which aims to harmonise nature's elemental forces of the earth (the soil), water (the vines), air (the weather) and fire (the sun). It also recognises that the phases of the moon have a significant influence on plants through gravitational forces.

The cow horns will be dug up in the Spring and the contents dynamised in water. The solution is then sprayed on the vineyard to improve fertility and encourage the natural sense of terrior in the grapes which will help produce great wine.

I know that some of you will think that we are crazy (including Alex's dog Attila!) but many of the great vineyards around the world are convinced by the biodynamic approach, including Romanée-Conti in Burgundy, Coulee de Serrant in the Loire, Beaux Freres in Oregon, Hensche in Australia and Jean-Pierre Fleury in Champagne. I'm just happy to be in such great company.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Cow Pat Pit

Cow Pat Pit (CPP) is a biodynamic preparation that stimulates soil activity and enhances the humus forming processes of the soil. It also helps to initiate the fermentation of manure and activates organic matter conversion in compost. Research carried out after the Chernobyl disaster showed how it helped reduce the effects of radioactive fallout on land where it was applied.

It is made by mixing cow manure with crushed egg shell and basalt dust, which is then fermented with biodynamic preparations 502-507 for a three to four months in a 12 inch deep pit lined with bricks.

Unfortunately we didn't get around making our own CPP this year, but instead have sourced some from the Biodynamic Association which we have added to a compost pile that will be spread on the vineyard in the next few weeks. This will help address deficiencies some nitrogen and minerals deficiencies which were identified by a petiole analysis earlier in the year. Biodynamics and science working in harmony!