In the spring of 2007 I went to the Milford, England, International Rugby Tournament to watch my son play Rugby for the U.S.A. U17 Eagles Rugby team. On the way home from the tournament I was invited to have Easter supper with a wonderful English wine writer and his family in West London. We both shared a passionate love of Riesling and we were all having a lovely time, until he asked me what I thought of Biodynamic farming. After a long pause, I said that if Biodynamics got the farmer into the vineyard more often then that was all to the good. But as to Biodynamic farming itself, I took an even longer pause and finally said “Well, we used to burn witches in America, didn’t we?” It turned out my host is a big believer in BD farming and a pall settled over the rest of the meal. I felt terrible and guilty for upsetting my host – and still do.
It became obvious to me that Biodynamics is the poster child for what I was so concerned about in our society – believing that fantasy is real. Folks within my own winegrowing industry were embracing a farming philosophy that had more in common with witchcraft and animism than modern, progressive Best Management Practices (BMP) of the 21st century. Science that propelled the California wine industry into the forefront of world recognition was being ignored and supplanted with this belief in the cosmic, occult-like mysticism as preached by Rudolf Steiner. Here was ignorance, growing and infecting an entire industry; it’s become viral. Just last week at an organic farming seminar held at Frog’s Leap winery, a rather prominent albeit new vintner (former titan of industry) reportedly pronounced that if Napa Valley Vintners would give up petro-chemicals then the entire Napa Valley would no longer have to be concerned with mildew. This individual could buy me ten times over, with what he makes on interest, yet, in my humble opinion, this guy is dumber than dirt when it comes to vineyards and farming.