Also the wine-making process must be as natural as possible, without added chemicals or physical forcing, without using cultured yeasts and with the least possible use of even sulphur dioxide. In fact, we have decided not to add it at all in our vinification, although it should be remember that a small amount of sulphites is naturally produced by the yeasts during fermentation.
As vintners, we believe that wine is made in the vineyard rather than the cellar. This is why immediately after the grape harvest, we start working the soil with special tools (subsoilers, also known as rippers) which loosen the soil by penetrating it along its force lines, without upsetting the clods, thus leaving its structure undisturbed. The earth is lifted without altering its planes but letting the air penetrate deep to stimulate the development of humus, microflora, and microfauna.
Lifting the soil makes it soft and crumbly, ready to welcome the sowing of the many grass and flower varieties which form our green manure, with their rich biodiversity. In the spring, these plants are mowed and tilled into the ground. This step further opens up the soil and enriches it with carbon, nitrogen and other elements that help humus to develop.
This kind of practices are often common also in organic farming, but the difference lies in the fact that Biodynamics has a different philosophical approach and because it utilises special preparations, such as BD500 or "Cow Horn Manure" and BD501 or "Cow Horn Silica" as well as several other preparations containing oak tree bark, valerian, dandelion flowers, stinging nettle etc.
Additionally, we follow the moon cycles and base our agricultural work on the ascending and descending phases of the moon. This refers to the motion of the moon above the horizon, not to be confused with the optical phenomenon of lunar phases, which has little to do with the life cycles of plants and the earth. Planets and constellations are also taken into account, obviously not in themselves but as indicators of the position of the earth within the whole wide universe, which of course bears its influence on all natural phenomena.
But what do we mean by "preparations"? Preparations BD500 and BD501 (Cow Horn Manure and Cow Horn Silica respectively) are essential in biodynamic farming. "Cow Horn Manure" is obtained by stuffing into cow horns cow dung obtained from biodynamic farms. These are then buried in autumn, following specific rules, and left to rest underground until spring. In this way, they harness all the winter energies and transform the manure into a completely different substance, charged with vital force, smelling like underwood and with nothing in common with the original manure. After being carefully "dynamized", the horn manure is sprayed in the autumn on the freshly worked soil immediately after sowing, and in the spring immediately after tilling the green manure to promote the formation of humus.
The right time to harvest is determined with organoleptic tests and by carefully assessing the condition of the skin, of the flesh and of the seeds. The latter are very important because if they are not perfectly ripe, they may pass on bitter herbaceous tastes and particularly astringent tannins to the wine. The grapes must be perfectly healthy. They are hand-harvested, placed in special baskets and promptly taken to the cellar; in our case this is easily achieved, since the vineyard farthest from home is hardly 1/2 Mille from the cellar. On reaching the cellar, the grapes are immediately de-stemmed and put in the tank, where they are left to rest for at least 2-3 days to facilitate pre-fermentation maceration.
As soon as the fermentation process begins, we start performing open-tank pumpovers to provide the air required to develop and nourish the yeasts. We also press down the skins to break the cap they form on the surface of the fermenting must .