Topic of the Week 1/22/18 - Advanced

Great discussion on disgorgement last week - thank you , and  for your input!

This week: Sustainable viticulture

What are some of the various methods of sustainable viticulture and how do they compare to one another?

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  • The main models of sustainable agriculture fall under the larger umbrella of "sustainable," or "raisonnée," organic, and biodynamic.  Darla and Jeremy have already covered the lion's share of what covers the world of sustainable agriculture, but another key factor in sustainable agriculture is the mindset that many winemakers employ of doing what needs to be done in order to protect the crop and harvest given the circumstances of the vintage--being more pragmatic than dogmatic in one's approach.  The definition and requirements to achieve certification for organic viticulture varies based on country of origin and/or appellation, but generally forbids the use of synthetic pesticides, certain methods of filtration, and limits the use of sulfur during the winemaking process.  Organic certifications, however, do not always take into account what must be done in the vineyard, but what must not, so although it carries a certain commercial appeal, it doesn't necessarily mean that the wine is necessarily more sustainable than one coming from a "raisonnée" mindset.  Biodynamic viticulture takes the tenets of sustainable farming, organic viticulture, and a sprinkle of hocus-pocus to achieve the most pure land east manipulated wine of all.  Pioneered by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 and championed now (most notably) by Nicolas Joly, the viticultural system employs tenets of organic viticulture in addition to natural soil treatments including cow horns, manure, dandelion, stinging nettles, yarrow root, and others, works strongly in accordance with the cycles of the moon, and encourages biodiversity in the vineyard in terms of crops & livestock.  Additionally, biodynamic viticulture heavily eschews the use sulfur, mechanical harvesting, and the use of deodorant by it's most staunch advocates.  While there are many world-class wines that are produced biodynamically, the movement is most often associated with the natural-wine movement.  The Demeter Biodynamic Trade Association certifies biodynamic farms and vineyards internationally. 

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