DeLoach Vineyards is cultivating an intimate relationship with the land. The small-lot winemaker maintains 17 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley and a 1-acre garden. And while both are certified organic, it is their biodynamic certification that makes them exceptional. Indeed, guided by a holistic approach based on biodynamic farming principles, DeLoach vintners make organic farming alone look like a half measure.
The farmers at DeLoach tend to their vineyards and garden as if they were a closed system. They seek at every turn to drastically limit if not altogether eliminate external inputs. Rather than a cycle of dependence based on the importation of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, through biodynamic farming practices they create a self-contained oasis of self-sustaining interconnected biodiversity, an eco-system where the land, plants and animals exist in harmony to create a thriving environment.
The land is constantly replenished and enriched through natural processes using cover crops and compost made on-site and designed to encourage the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the soil. The signature components of the biodynamic process includes horn manure and horn silica, which are made by filling cow horns with manure or crushed silica and burying them in the ground through the winter. The horns are then dug up and their contents used as the basis to make organic fertilizers. Biodynamic farming also recognizes the importance of the cosmic rhythms that influence life on earth and work in the fields and cellar is carried out based on the lunar calendar. “In the holistic spirit of biodynamics, we will also continue to cultivate a sense of community with our neighbors, growers, and natural surroundings,” notes the DeLoach website.
The development of biodynamics came in response to the decline in food quality some farmers noticed with the shift from natural to synthetic based agricultural practices. Ironically, in moving forward toward a more environmentally sound and healthful future DeLoach is in many ways moving backward. Back to the time before the rise of the agro-industrial complex disrupted the close link between land, animals and plants and supplanted organics with chemicals.
The recent experience of Kim Wallace, assistant editor of Natural Home Magazine, testifies to the superior taste and nutritional content of food produced through biodynamic farming. “After trying farm-fresh eggs from DeLoach Vineyards’ Biodynamic, organic farm and garden, I’ve made a vow to buy only local eggs whenever possible,” Wallace says.
Kim Wallace’s tour of DeLoach Vineyards for Natural Home Magazine including the horn silica making process.
Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association National Conference September 30, 2010: Biodynamics and the Future of Agriculture: Growing the Food Revolution
Image credit: foodstuffla.org