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Monty Waldin

Published:  11 August, 2011

The biodynamic winemaker's view


The steady rate at which global vineyards have converted to organics or biodynamics since 1995 will now augment dramatically. By 2015, 15% of both France and New Zealand's vineyards will be organic or biodynamic.


By then perhaps laggardly Australian winegrowers will accept organic compost and cover cropping can make their ever scarcer irrigation water go much further than any of their techno-babble deficit irrigation systems - or even render irrigation superfluous.


Global wine oversupply makes "premiumisation" a lifeline for wine's bottom-feeders.
Organics offers them rungs up the quality ladder and potentially fatter margins, even if cash subsidies for organic conversion remain scarce.


With scarcer water and fossil fuels, expect more rain barrels under winery roofs, more solar panels on them and more biodiverse vineyards: horses in for tractors, sheep and chickens on winter weed control, and petrol-hungry fertilisers replaced by four-legged fertility factories called cows.


Increased adoption of flowering cover crops will spawn fewer vine pests and more terroir-specific honeys from vineyard beehives. Biodiverse vineyard farms growing other fruits, vegetables, or herbs on spare land will become more desirable places to work and will give local families with kids multiple reasons to stop and shop. The perfect cellar-door product may become no-added-sulphur wines, which usually travel poorly.


For wine exporters organics offer zero liability as big wine buyers like Germany and the US block imported bottles containing even a micron of herbicide or pesticide residue.


While rule-setters keep disagreeing about a single global bio wine standard - the US and Europe are at loggerheads over exactly what kind of support posts bio vineyards can have - wineries may put their organic bona fides in their top drawer rather than on their bottles to avoid having to design potentially different labels for Japan, Canada, the US, and Europe.


Label frustration should help the world's only dedicated biodynamic wine body, France's SIVCBD (Biodyvin), become a world leader by attracting winery members from elsewhere in Europe, but, more significantly, from the New World.