Following courses in 1997 with François Bouchet, Biodynamics advisor, Jean and Jean-Pierre Dirler have decided in 1998 to convert the estate to a Biodynamic agriculture. At that time, 14.2 acres out of the 22.3 of the Dirler estate are converted. In 1999, the last 7,4 acres (the steepest and narrower vineyards) are converted in introducing the ploughing with a draft horse in the estate culture.
From 2000, the family farm expands itself with the takeover of the half of Ludivine’s parent’s vineyard (9.8 acres). From 2001 to 2004, the estate continues to take vineyards over to finally have 44.4 acres and convert all the plots gradually. The estate obtained the Biological Agriculture label “AB” and the Biodynamic Agriculture label “BIODYVIN” from the 4th year of Biodynamic culture so that the estate is 100% AB and BIODYVIN from the harvest of 2007.
The origins of the Biodynamics
Proposed in 1924 to respond to the concerns of farmers who had already seen their lands threatened, Biodynamics is a cultivation method that involves much more than simply prohibiting the use of synthetic chemicals.
The principles of the Biodynamics
This method could be summarized by three points:
The goal of the Biodynamics
Biodynamic agriculture consists mainly of taking care of the soil. It involves making sure that it is properly balanced, creating harmonious life conditions between land, plants and the environment.
This care favours:
• The improvement of soil quality through the presence of a large variety of bacteria,
• Better root development of plant life, with thicker, longer roots,
• Better development of the leaves and flowers by providing the energy required for harmonious development of the fruit.
Work of the Biodynamics on our vineyard
Cultivated soil is not a simple support for vines, but rather a living environment, a source of energy for plant life just like its outdoor environment.
The biodynamic mixtures further life. They help the grape to find its balance in order to be more easily adapted to the climate hazard and to better fight against possible illness.The exchanges that take place between soil biology and its root and foliage systems enable the soil characteristics to be transferred to the grapes, increasing the quality of their flavors.
• The Maria Thun manure compost mixture supports and reinforces the soil decomposition process. It contains all the elements that help form the clay-humus complex. A considerable variety and number of bacteria promoting soil life are found here.
• The 500 mixture (horn manure) acts on the plants. It reinforces subterranean life. Numerous tests have proved its effectiveness; roots are much longer, thicker and better distributed.
• The 501 mixture (horn silica) helps leaves to grow, balances flowers and helps provide the energy necessary for good, healthy fruit development.
The 501 provides a lot of light. It has to be spread in spring, early in the morning to avoid burning the foliage and the flowers. It is more used in the less-sunny years.
These first three products are essential and must go through the dynamisation process (Dynamic transfer of the energy of the mixtures into water) before being spread.
The other preparations, made from Achillea, Camomile, Nettle, Oak bark, Dandelion and Valerian, have all undergone transformations transforming them into humus with specific qualities. Each of them provides the influence of a planet of the solar system. They will be used for the composts seeding. We make our own composts in the context of the activities of the association Vignes Vivantes.
To reinforce the natural defense of the grape, we also use some sulfur and Bordeaux mixture, Nettle and willow tea, and Equisetum arvense decoction.
The ploughing and the hoeing are an essential part of our work in Biodynamics. The grape is a weeding plant. So it is important to plough every year around the plant in order to cut the lateral roots and encourage the principal roots to go always deeper to find their alimentation.
Culture practices used to unpack and aerate the soil and to promote its activity since the surface fauna (worms, bacteria, microorganisms) is aerobic.