Organic and Biodynamic wine
What's the difference between Organic and Biodynamic?To understand the difference between organic and biodynamic wine, first it shall be a little background.
Wine is the product of two processes: wine growing and winemaking. Wine growing encompasses planting, farming and harvesting grapes in the vineyard. Winemaking includes crushing, transforming and bottling these grapes into stuff you might sip by the glass at your favorite restaurant.
Though the legal definition of organically grown wine varies from country to country, here's the gist: organic wine is made from grapes grown according to government-regulated principles of organic farming. Using the "organic" label means that the wine has been certified by a licensed third-party organization and has been grown, harvested, processed and packaged according to rigorous standards. In France, organic certification was introduced in 1985. It has established a green-white logo of "AB - agriculture biologique". The certification for the AB label fulfills the EU regulations for organic food. Also most of the organic wines approved by the Ecocert. Ecocert is an organic certification organization, founded in France in 1991.
Organic grapes are cultivated in vineyards banning the use of artificial inputs, including synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides. In organic vineyards, a bountiful growing year relies instead on maintaining strict standards for soil health—for example, upping biodiversity through crop rotation.
In the fermenting and bottling phase of winemaking, organic wines cannot contain added sulfites. Sulfites—also known as sulfur dioxide, a naturally occurring preservative in most wines and an inherent by-product of alcoholic fermentation—can be manually added by the winemaker to up the sulfite level in their bottle of vino, thereby increasing its lifespan. If a winemaker opts to add sulfites, but otherwise follows organic farming practices, the wines can't be labeled "organic." However, they can be classified as wine "made from organic grapes."
Biodynamic wine adheres to all organic criteria, plus some (or all) of the doctrines established in the late 1920s by Rudolph Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and academic known for exploring the synthesis of science and spirituality. To put it simply, biodynamics is the practice of viewing the vineyard as an ecological entity regarded from the soil up.
At the base level, this means increasing soil fertility by barring the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Biodynamics, then, is organic wine taken a step further: just as the care for your health shouldn't prioritize lungs over kidneys, so must a vineyard operate as a series of balanced interactions. Planting, harvesting and pruning practices are determined by a specific calendar, taking into account both lunar cycles and the position of the sun and planets.
Like organic wine, "biodynamic" is a registered certification with a definite roster of requirements. Wines labeled "biodynamic" will have approved recognition from the Demeter Association, a branch of Demeter International—the nonprofit organized in 1928 following Steiner's first lectures on biodynamics in agriculture. There is also certification from official body Biodyvin.
All wines produced by biodynamic methods are also certified as organic.