Biodynamics


For 30 years Millton Vineyards & Winery's grapes have been grown in the traditional manner using biodynamic techniques.

Biodynamics (“bio” – life, “dynamic” – energy) is based on Rudolf Steiner's spiritual science, that recognises that there is a growth force or energy force, which is related to the cosmic rhythms. This means that the movements of the moon and other planets have a profound influence on the soil, plant and animal life.

Biodynamic techniques are used in all areas of the production at The Millton Vineyard. This involves growing the grapes without the use of herbicide, insecticide, systemic fungicides or soluble fertilisers. It also incorporates the use of special herbal, mineral and animal preparations and teas. In the cellar the use of synthetic agents is forbidden and the use of animal products, cultured yeasts and introduced bacteria is minimised.

James Millton is one of the 10 original biodynamic winegrowers in the world and is one of the pioneers of this practice in the Southern Hemisphere. He is the only New Zealand member of the French inspired group of world-renowned biodynamic winegrower’s Renaissance des Appellations.

“I practice bio-dynamics for no other reason than a burning desire to grow the best wine and produce. I like the philosophy, the discipline and the reward. Like the enthusiastic people the subject attracts. I like the spiritual science and metaphysical attitude. I like the mindfulness. I like it as well for the fact the when you do it well it becomes easy. And when it is easy there is little space for dis-ease to fit in.” James Millton

Renaissance des Appellations (Return to Terroir)

This is a group of 80 bio-dynamically minded winegrowers established by our friend Nicolas Joly of the famous Coulee de Serrant in Savennieres in France. He is the master from where our mission statement comes from. This group includes many famous, long-standing wine producers. In 2003 I was invited to attend, with 50 other growers, the first bio-dynamic Winegrowers exhibition, in conjunction with the Vinexpo Exhibition, in Bordeaux, France. I was one of only two Southern Hemisphere producers to attend, the other my friend Julian Castagna from Beechworth Australia. Now there are more producers from the Southern Hemisphere and we are encouraging several other New Zealand producers to join our group as well, as they advance their practice into bio-dynamics. We have also exhibited twice in New York City, in San Francisco, Tokyo, Toronto, London and Los Angeles with the possibility of going to many other European cities as well.

It appears however that time is changing. That knowledge is diversifying and more accepting and, while still being the only New Zealand member of Renaissance des Appellations (see below) the level of distinguished world renown winegrowers in the group is a sure sign that biodynamic winegrowing has come of age.



What is Biodynamics?

Biodynamics ("bio” – life, “dynamics” - energy) is a method of organic agriculture which can be applied to any farm or horticultural enterprise, by following a series of practical steps.

The steps emphasise building soil fertility, and are carefully tailored to the particular property. They include :
· Use of Biodynamic sprays to stimulate biological activity in the soil, and improve retention of nutrients, such as animal wastes.
· Stocking with several different animal species to vary grazing patterns and reduce pasture borne parasites.
· Widening the range of pasture species.
· Planting trees for multiple purposes.
· Crop rotation designs to enhance soil fertility, and control weeds and plant pests.
· Recycling of organic wastes where possible, by large scale composting.
· Changing from chemical pest control to prevention strategies based on good plant and animal nutrition.
Biodynamics is a systems approach - the farm is viewed as a living whole, in which each farm activity affects the others. Management is based on the farmer's own careful observations, plus the results of tests and analyses. This leads to a modern approach in which traditional knowledge finds a renewal.

What are the Advantages?
Because Biodynamics uses very limited external inputs, and reuses most on farm waste, it has a low impact on the environment. It provides an economical way of farming in which most of the costs are met at the time they incurred. It thus offers a solution to conflicts between economics and the environment.

A further benefit is the quality of the produce. Flavour and keeping quality of the foods, lustre and comfort of fibres provoke favourable comment from consumers.
Where did Biodynamics come from?
In 1924 a number of German farmers were deeply concerned with signs of agriculture in decline:
· Soil infertility
· Unthrifty animals
· Loss of food quality
Philosopher and scientist Dr Rudolf Steiner responded with lectures introducing Biodynamic concepts.

In New Zealand, Biodynamic methods were first used in1928 at Havelock North.

What is Demeter Certification?

A change-over period of at least three years is required for farms, orchards and market gardens which have been worked by conventional means, before they can carry the Demeter trademark on their products. The Transition Demeter mark can be used after a year's farming to the published standards.

Licences to use the Demeter trademark are renewed yearly, and the Association's inspectors visit licensed properties regularly.

Processed products bearing the Demeter trademark come from licensed farms, and the processing, also licensed, is inspected to protect the integrity of the produce.

The licence to carry the Demeter trademark is your guarantee that the product conforms to the highest standard of Biodynamic agriculture and horticulture.

Look for this trademark when buying organic produce:


 


What is the Biodynamic Association?
The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association was established in 1945 to promote biodynamic methods.

Membership is open to anyone interested in biodynamic farming and gardening methods, and current members include farmers, processors, orchardists, commercial and home gardeners as well as others who wish to support this work.

For further information please contact:

David Wright, Executive Secretary
P.O.Box 39045, Wellington
Ph (04) 589 5366
Fax (04) 589 5365