Let’s be honest, shopping for wine can be a bit of a mystery. Even for some of the most experienced shoppers, purchasing a new bottle is always a risk. The best we can do? Try to understand the terms winemakers stick on their labels to gain a deeper insight into the juice we’ll be sipping.
Aside from the usual differentiators (Is it oaky? Is it dry?), there’s another characteristic that’s becoming more and more of a sticking point among American wine consumers. Just like the food we eat, Americans are looking for sustainable wines from growers who practice natural and biodynamic farming. But what do those terms actually mean? More importantly, is buying a bottle just because it says “biodynamic” any better than another? Let’s break down the basics behind the buzzword.
What Is Biodynamic Farming?
Biodynamic wine-growing is one of the most passionate and rigorous farming styles out there. It’s also a little, um, out there. Master of wine Vanessa Conlin, head of wine at Wine Access, explains that at its core, biodynamic farming “is a way of looking at the entire vineyard as one living organism.” That includes making sure the fields, plants, animals, soil, and even the pests are nurtured to support the healthy lifespan of the entire unit, she explains.