TravisbickleThere are few topics that are more controversial in the wine world right now than that of Biodynamic wines. Both proponents and opponents seem to be equally passionate in their opinions on the subject. Jeff Lefevere has an outstanding post up on his Good Grape blog right now about the need for a change in the dialogue (or dueling monologues) on this topic. Jeff does a good job of showing the parallels between wine and politics or religion that this issue has created. From the post -

By now, I think most seasoned wine enthusiasts are not only familiar
with BioD, but they’ve formed an opinion on it.  If you are like me, you
take BioD for what it is – a belief system, nothing more and nothing
less.  Maybe you agree with it, maybe you don’t, but it’s like walking
down a New York City sidewalk and accepting an “All God’s Creatures” point
of view, instead of living like Travis
Bickle.

Yet, read the comments to any article or blog post discussing
Biodynamics and you will inevitably see a comment denouncing Biodynamics
as the work of hucksters, crackpots and loonies. What happened to reasonable people being able to respect differing
belief systems—particularly when there is no right or wrong answer?

The name calling that accompanies this topic seems like it’s straight out of a Fox News program, or a religious message board on the internet. Jeff has tackled the “Biodynamics as a belief system” point in the past, and I think that there is a lot to this position. I don’t know that I would go so far as to say that you are Godless if you don’t believe in BioD, but I think the parallel being drawn between people like Stuart Smith, who writes the blog Biodynamics is a Hoax, and say, Christopher Hitchens, is a valid one. It might even be a characterization that Smith himself wouldn’t mind. I don’t want to get into the question of religion here, if for no other reason than the fact that it might undermine my future plans to start a global religion based on wine. The point is that Biodynamics is just a belief system, and that all the hyperbole surrounding it might be a bit extreme.

In the interest of not leaving you all hanging too long, I am not a believer in Biodynamics. I do find a lot of the more mystical elements of the Biodynamic process to be a bit unbelievable, but I certainly don’t begrudge anyone engaging in those practices. I think that, like many religions, there are good points and some not so good. I find the not so good elements in Biodynamics to be fairly benign, and I think that the good points do have a lot of potential to lead to quality fruit being produced in a vineyard, and subsequently to quality wines being produced. I think that the overall effect is a positive one. I do, however, feel like a lot of the same vineyard quality could be achieved through other methods. My opinion is that the attention to the soil and environment within the vineyard that is required for Biodynamics is a big part of what produces positive results. I know growers who are every bit as careful as the average Biodynamic grower about the impact that they have on the land, without the inclusion of the more “quirky” elements of BioD, and I believe that they can produce grapes that are of the same high quality and minimally impact the environment.

The Question

Jeff’s post has gotten me started thinking about this issue some though, and trying to see it from both sides. Do you think that Biodynamics is a hoax, or just a benign system of beliefs? Do you think that the overall effects of Biodynamics are positive, negative, or neutral?