Shanyn Ward is a WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Diploma graduate and wine buyer for Cask & Barrel Liquor Store. (Photo: Carmen Weld)

Wineology: What is Biodynamics?

Check out Okanagan sommelier Shanyn Ward’s wine column

I have never been the kind of person that speaks in inspirational quotes. I don’t know how to sugar coat any feedback or opinion that might be considered negative. Instead, I have always believed that being truthful and straight forward will lead me down the right path.

So believe me when you read this that I am a person that has spent a lot of time thinking, researching and visiting vineyards in order to be able to write a piece like this in the first place.

Biodynamics, first and foremost, is a frame of mind followed by a dedication to carry out a commitment. And when I write it out it seems perfect – integrity, dedication and commitment – all values that I find very attractive and wish I could see more of in the world.

But this is not an article on personal morals, instead it about my favorite topic these days it seems – farming!

Biodynamics is a chain of ideas all bound together with the goal of caring for your land in a more precise and attentive way.

I had a boss a few years back who told me if anyone liked biodynamics they would have to be okay with running around naked in the vineyard under a full moon. While I can agree with the fact that some of these farming techniques are a little hard to wrap your head around, the comment taught me two things.

One – This type of farming will always create controversy and have many non believers and;

Two – We have a lot of work to do in order to educate people on why a thought process like biodynamics is important for the growth of our wine industry.

A biodynamic farm is like one big living organism, created by a holistic and ethical approach to tending to it. It incorporates all elements such as plants, soils and animals. Naturally occurring preparations are used in composting and as cover crops to encourage growth of vines and to discourage growth of harmful weeds and pests. Farm animals such as cows, chickens and pigs are raised respectfully and used to fertilize soil and feed on vineyard pests and insects.

It has been said many times before; biodynamics is more organic than organic. It is minimizing the use of any inorganic substances and completely moving away from inputs such as fungicides, herbicides and pesticides. Instead, learning how to tend to the land using things that exist in nature.

In a previous article I wrote about Tinhorn Creek and how they were creating areas on their land where animals could live without harming the vines. These are steps we take to working more harmoniously with our land.

Last week, I visited a vineyard that I am embarrassed to say I had never been to before.

Covert Farms, just north of Oliver, is one of the most beautiful properties I have been to. I would like to say it is hidden away, but at 400 acres in size that would be an understatement. While they are not fully biodynamic, I am so excited for the steps they have taken in that direction.

They have been certified organic since 2006, they are experimenting with many different cover crops, have more chickens than you could count and produce organic vegetables on a scale too big to call just a garden. Their approach to wine making is a natural as it gets, but what makes them special is how much time they spend in the vineyard.

Their wine portfolio includes varieties such as Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and others.

It is an absolute must to see in the valley if you have never been.

They are family friendly and while your kids play on the bouncy balloon you can sit back with charcuterie and a glass of wine while watching the llama’s rolls in the dirt and the cows chomp on grass. They also allow you to park on their property to enter the McIntyre Bluff hike – which is spectacular if you have a couple extra hours to spare.

Related: Wineology: Making sense of natural wines

Related: Wineology: Let’s talk organic wine

What I am loving this week:

Covert Farms Amicitia

A Bordeaux inspired blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. It is full bodied, with rich dark fruit and soft ripe tannins. A perfect wine for our transition into fall.

Cheers!

shanynward@gmail.com

To check out past Wineology columns, click here.

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