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Wine writer Katherine Cole says that the best wines, like the best books and movies, make her weep. When she noticed a few years ago that some of those tears were being shed for biodynamic wines, she decided she wanted to learn more about this agricultural philosophy.
It's hard to describe biodynamic agriculture in just a few sentences — Cole explores it in her new, rollicking book — but you can think of it as organic farming on homeopathic steroids with a lunar twist. Farmers use no chemical inputs, such as fertilizers or pesticides. Their compost preparations are based on old recipes involving animal parts and specific herbs. And their planting schedule is based on phases of the moon.
When you first learn about biodynamic farming, it's easy to focus on the archaic-sounding kookiness (ie: deer bladders, cow horns, and chamomile). Cole does provide plenty of great stories about the specific concoctions and about Rudolf Steiner, the movement's protean founder.
But she's after bigger quarry. She delves into the motivations of biodynamic winemakers, their connections to the natural world, and the specific qualities of the wines they're producing.
We'll talk to Cole about the past and future of biodynamic winemaking, and about what she's learned over the last few years.
What's your experience with biodynamic wines — as a grower, winemaker, or drinker?
- KATHERINE COLE: Wine columnist for The Oregonian and Mix magazine, and the author of Voodoo Vintners: Oregon's Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers