Nowadays, Tuscany has so many high-quality wine producers, it can be difficult to narrow down the options. On this visit to the region, I decided to limit my explorations to some of Tuscany’s best wineries with biodynamically farmed vineyards.
Increasingly popular, biodynamic agriculture can be partially understood as going a step beyond organic practices. This philosophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s, involves fostering a “farm organism” that is self-sustaining. Certain aspects of biodynamic practice are intuitive, such as using cow manure as fertilizer and animals like sheep, goats and chickens to control weeds and pests, rather than chemicals. Other aspects might strike some as superstition. Timing vineyard and cellar activities according to the location of the moon relative to certain constellations doesn’t seem like a process a scientist would endorse, for example.
And yet, somehow, it seems to work. “The Oxford Companion to Wine” cites a study that found “significant increases of microbial life on biodynamic vine roots at depths of several metres compared with conventionally and even organically farmed root vines, and that the roots were thickest, longest and most able to penetrate the soil, and assimilate trace elements, when grown biodynamically.” Deeper roots that better absorb minerals should lead to more-complex wines with a stronger sense of terroir.