After converting all the vineyards on the estate to organic agriculture, the Filliatreau Domain embarked on an even more demanding approach: biodynamic winemaking. Far from being a commercial choice, this way of producing wine is, above all, based on the desire to respect nature and to create a lasting connection to the land. Jean, head of cultivation at the domain, has witnessed first-hand the changes in cultivation methods and is the leading contractor along with his colleague, Nicolas. They tell us more…
In our line of work, we are in direct contact with nature and have noticed the rise in extreme weather episodes and overall imbalances in nature: heat waves, droughts, late spring frosts… and we want to do something ourselves to help. There is no question that what we eat and drink directly influences our health !
Respecting the soil and plants also means respecting those who work with them, in the middle of healthy fields, and of course the consumer at the end, who enjoys a product without residues.
We need to understand that organic and biodynamic cultivation are complementary in order to better respect the land, the products grown, and the consumers. For us, one cannot go on without the other !
The first principle is to work the soil, throughout the crop cycle :
As a basic treatment, biodynamics will strengthen the plant’s immunity. Preparations based on plants or natural materials are used for this. You have to know the type of plant, the plot and type of land, and know how to observe the signals sent by nature. These preparations need to be applied according to the lunar calendar, at very specific times of the day or night.
There’s nothing magical about biodynamics! Only the result of observing natural cycles. We owe its principle to Rudolf Steiner, a philosopher who gave a series of lectures on this subject in 1924.
The preparations :
These two treatments combined literally regenerate the land and vineyard life.
Biodynamics places great importance on the rhythm of nature and the influence of celestial bodies, particularly the lunar cycle. Spraying is completed before sunrise, and requires great rigor in monitoring the lunar calendar.
The Demeter certification guarantees that the labelled product comes exclusively from farms where biodynamic agriculture is practised. This logo can only be affixed if the whole farm is cultivated using biodynamic techniques.
Similar to the AB certification in organic farming, it guarantees that the labelled techniques are done in compliance with strict rules, and not as a ‘rookie.’ It should be understood that organic and biodynamic farming are not synonymous with ‘carelessness’ (letting the grass invade the vines, for example) but on the contrary, are meticulous jobs that take time. While chemical weeding for each row (glyphosate) requires one hour of work per hectare, manual weeding requires 10 !
You need to go through each row about four times, working rigorously in an organized way with specific tools (there is a sprayer dedicated to each preparation).
Thanks to the work being done with the soil, microbial life develops, earthworms resettle and aerate the ground: the soil breathes better.
We are also seeing wildlife return, which is a very good sign: partridge nests, with many eggs, hares in the plots… we hadn’t seen them in a long time!