Some years ago I began sensing that America was moving away from embracing science. I read that fewer students are taking science classes both in high schools and colleges. It seems to me that consumers are more accepting today of outlandish claims for food supplements, health products and cures for all sorts of ailments. Anecdotal testimony by actors, neighbors or co-workers carry more weight than what doctors tell us. We’ll run off to an acupuncturist because, as the new age generation, the old and esoteric practices are assumed to be best. Just look at the controversy over children’s vaccines which “cause” autism. While serious science in America is moving ahead with marvelous achievements, the contrary seems to be happening within our culture. I started saying to my friends that Americans appear to be moving forward into the 21st Century by returning to the dark ages, as far as science was concerned.
In my world of wine, Biodynamics began to become more visible and seemingly leapfrogged over organic farming as the absolute greenest of all farming techniques by claiming that Biodynamic farming is the “Rolls Royce of organic farming.” For many years I had a laissez faire attitude toward Biodynamics – didn’t know much about it and didn’t care much – live and let live. If Biodynamics got the farmer to put more foot prints in the vineyard that was fine with me – more attention to vineyard farming details is always good. Yes, Biodynamics is a little kooky, but so what— no harm, no foul!
But that started to change in recent years. As of 2008, it was reported that there are over 3,500 biodynamic producers in over 40 countries, a very impressive number, along with some very well-known wineries including Domaine de La Romanee Conti, Domaine Leflaive, Domaine Leroy, Grgich Hills, Quintessa, Joseph Phelps, Araujo, Benziger, Qupe. But what really caught my attention were the claims that Biodynamic soils were “alive,” that the vines were healthier and can ward off infection better and that the wines made from those grapes more precisely expressed a sense of place and thus the resulting wines were better. Better than what you ask? The clear implication was that Biodynamic soils, vineyards and wines are superior in every way than everyone else’s soils, vineyards and wines, and in my book those are fighting words. I didn’t ask for this fight, it came to me – it reminds me of the movie High Noon, re-set into the 21st Century.
I now realized that Biodynamics is the poster child for what was bothering me; what happens when a society doesn’t educate its citizens well enough.