Biodynamic agriculture is the “original form” of modern-day organic farming. It is based on the work carried out by Austrian anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. Biodynamics is based on the ideal concept of a winery’s individuality. The key pillars of this production method are a holistic understanding of the winery (soil, plants, living organisms and humans) and the principle of self-contained farming cycles, achieved by species-rich crop rotation and livestock farming, even though this can often only be implemented step by step on a winery.
Biodynamic viticulture aims to support the development of nature and people by ensuring the highest possible degree of ecological, economic, social and emotional sustainability. A self-contained, self-sufficient farming cycle is considered the ultimate goal of biodynamic wineries and enables them to achieve maximum individuality with their products.
Besides plant strengtheners used in organic viticulture, other biodynamic compounds such as manure-filled cow horns, cow horn silica and various plant extracts can also be used for support. A holistic understanding of the winery also includes cosmic influences on living organisms, such as the influence of the moon phases. Consequently, the use of technology, auxiliary materials and additives should be kept to a minimum in the cellar in order to produce wine that is as natural as possible.
Demeter Austria is the Austrian branch of the internationally operating association Demeter. Apart from winegrowers, members include more than 7,000 producers of agricultural products farmed in accordance with biodynamic codes of practice around the world. The Demeter logo was introduced in 1928; consequently, Demeter is considered the world’s oldest organic association. respekt-BIODYN was launched in Austria in 2007 and brings together over 30 wineries from Austria, Italy, Germany and Hungary as they strive towards biodynamic wine production and distinct quality standards.
- Austria had a total of 1,444 hectares of biodynamically farmed vineyards in 2022. This figure is the sum of the areas under vine cultivated by Demeter and respekt-BIODYN members (866 ha and 714 ha, respectively. Some wineries have both certifications.).
- Demeter Austria currently has 54 member wineries.
- respekt-BIODYN has 18 Austrian wineries on its books today (other wineries are currently in the transition phase to become members).
- 15% of Austria’s organic vineyards are already farmed biodynamically. In relation to the entire area under vine in Austria (44,537 ha), 3% is biodynamically cultivated.
- In the last five years the biodynamically cultivated area under vine has almost doubled.
CERTIFICATION AND CONTROL
Demeter certification is carried out by Demeter Austria following a migration phase and an inspection by independent national control bodies, e.g. LACON. Independent control bodies also carry out an annual inspection of the association’s members to ensure compliance with the Demeter code of practice. Austrian wineries that are members of respekt-BIODYN go through a migration phase, followed by an inspection by an independent body. They are then certified by the association and subject to annual inspections by LACON.
Good to know
Biodynamic farming according to Demeter and respekt-BIODYN automatically assumes compliance with the code of practice for organic viticulture and that the winery is officially certified in accordance with the EU regulation on organic farming. Both associations operate under virtually the same biodynamic regulations, but each have drawn up their own specific codes of practice for their members. The biodynamic guidelines are to be understood as guiding principles and do not have to be implemented in the same way by every biodynamic farm (in contrast to the legally prescribed guidelines of the EU organic regulation).
Mandatory and forbidden measures: see the corresponding section on organic viticulture.
THE BASIC CONCEPT AND PRINCIPLES OF BIODYNAMIC VITICULTURE IN SPECIFIC RELATION TO DEMETER (EXCERPT)
According to Demeter, it is the only biodynamic association that follows the same basic principles all over the world, although certain standards do differ from country to country. The Demeter logo was introduced in 1928; consequently, Demeter is considered the world’s oldest organic association. Austria has the reputation of being a role model within Demeter International due to its particularly strict code of practice. The most important requirements of a winery for biodynamic certification by Demeter are described below – stricter interpretations unique to Demeter Austria are detailed when applicable.
THE BASIC CONCEPT AND PRINCIPLES OF BIODYNAMIC VITICULTURE IN SPECIFIC RELATION TO RESPEKT-BIODYN (EXCERPT)
Respekt-BIODYN was founded with the aim of opening up the debate about biodynamics and systematically implementing these practices in a viticultural context. In contrast to Demeter, respekt-BIODYN does not deal with any other field of agriculture and is therefore entirely focussed on wine and viticulture. According to respekt-BIODYN, the association strives to achieve maximum quality, combined with the highest imaginable respect for natural elements, the soil, plants, animals and humans. By definition, respekt-BIODYN products should ensure the “highest possible degree of ecological, economic, social and emotional sustainability”. The goal is the production of natural wine that is as unaltered as possible.
Austrians are born nature-lovers and therefore particularly respectful towards the natural environment. This is a country that places great importance on environmental protection and the responsible use of natural resources. It comes as no surprise, that Austria is a world leader in environmentally conscious viticulture.