Biodynamic winemaking at Pacific Rim

30% of our grapes are grown biodynamically and to my knowledge we have the only certified biodynamic vineyard in Washington State. We also are the only certified biodynamic producer in the State. We are not fanatical about biodynamie but it has taught us many things and has connected us better to our terroir.

Our understanding of Biodynamic agriculture

What we have learned from Rudolph Steiner’s biodynamic agriculture principles is that our goal should be to set the farm as a self contained entity focused on exporting goods without importing any from the outside world. The farm is in some way limited, just like our planet, and it has to become its own ecosystem to become a sustainable and perennial entity. Of course this preclude the use of any chemical at the farm unless they can be produced at the farm. For these reasons we use only natural products that could be produced at the farm that we call preparations (we actually do not make our own at this point but would like to). The preparations are numbered from 500 to 508:

Preparations

Ingredient

Role

500

Cow manure

Root growth and humus formation

501

Powdered Quartz

Stimulate and regulate foliar growth

502

Yarrow blossoms

For compost preparation

503

Chamomile blossoms

For compost preparation

504

Stinging nettle

For compost preparation

505

Oak bark

For compost preparation

506

Dandelion flower

For compost preparation

507

Valerian flower

For compost preparation

508

Horsetail

To fight foliar fungal disease

This is all we use in the vineyard – no other chemical organic nor synthetic. The compost making is very important as it is the key to a healthy soil and in return to a healthy vine. Also we do use the moon cycles to do most operations in the vineyard.

Our understanding of Biodynamic winemaking

At the winery we do not correct any grape deficiencies (no acid, no sugar, no water). We do not use commercial yeasts, only the yeasts that came with the grapes. The only chemicals we use are bentonite (for protein stability, it is remove and does not stay in the wine) and we add sulfites below 100ppm.

Lesson learned

In the vineyard we understand that we do not need heavy chemicals to grow our grapes. Yes, it is more work but there are alternative ways to grow grapes in an economical way. It makes sense and it does not make us a bunch of hippies. Consequently we have pooled our growers together to find alternative ways to grow grapes in a more sustainable way and we are creating an Integrated Environmental Stewardship Charter to move our sustainability agenda forward.

At the winery we know understand that we do not need commercial yeasts and that we can also make wine with fewer chemicals. Yes, the wines might not always be “technologically” correct but we hope they taste better and are healthier for you, just like an organically grown fruit.

We hope that you care as much as we do.

5 Responses to “Biodynamic winemaking at Pacific Rim”

  1. Andy Says:

    Hi – I’m looking for a biodynamic wine calendar. Something pretty to hang on the kitchen wall to make sure I don’t open the good stuff on a root day! Do you know of one? Or do you know when I can get the info I need?

    There’s bit of shift towards this thinking in the UK. Two big of the big supermarkets only do their tastings non-root/leaf days. To me, certain aspects make perfect sense i.e. the biodiversity has to be good farming.

    Regards, Andy

  2. Nicolas Says:

    Dear Andy,

    I do not know of anything pretty and fun to put on the wall. I use the official biodynamic calendar: http://www.biodynamics.com/node/346

    May be a fun project for the wine industry to put together?

    Nicolas

  3. Wallula vineyard update | News & Blog Says:

    [...] biodynamically from the get go and the farming practices are very unique and highly sustainable (see earlier post on biodynamic farming).  The density is high for Washington (1613 vines/ac) resulting in less crop per vine. The trellis [...]

  4. ignivobiaviax Says:

    Awesome, I didn’t heard about this topic till now. Thankz.

  5. Wallula Biodynamic vertical | Riesling Rules Book Says:

    [...] We were hosting a biodynamic tasting at our offices in Portland. Pacific Rim was pouring a vertical of Wallula Vineyard Biodynamic Rieslings (picture above). This was an opportunity for me to taste through the first three vintages (2007-2008-2009) of the magnificent Wallula Vineyard and reflect on our winemaking and our progress. Remember that those wines are biodynamic wines (vs made from biodynamic grapes) which is pretty rare as I saw yesterday where most of the producers present were pouring made from biodynamic grapes wines. Nothing is added to those wines (no yeast, no acid, no nothing) and they are certified biodynamic. Wallula is probably one of the most thoughtful Riesling planting in the USA with a special trellis system, German clones and all biodynamically farmed (http://rieslingrules.com/the_book/about-our-wines/biodynamic-winemaking-at-pacific-rim/). [...]

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