The basic outline I've seen involves a responsible stewardship of the land, a dedication to taking care of the people whom you work with you, a respect for tradition, a passion for the industry and most of all, the desire to create something beautiful with the gifts the earth provides. Whether talking to a chef in Italy or about vineyard management in Austria, there is an underlying current of love that keeps them inspired. I'll spend the next couple of weeks talking about each point and why it's important to retain in today's world.
The stewardship of the land is something that has stood out to me most. Realizing that people have been occupying the land here for thousands of years; farming, growing vines and raising animals, yet still the earth produces. There is a consciousness that healthy dirt will continue to grow food without huge injections of artificial fertilizers as long as the natural cycles are nurtured.
A lot of times, when people hear words like biodynamic or organic they roll their eyes; It's seen as just another catch phrase. While sometimes I do believe that this might be the case, I don't think this is a bad trend to be catching on. While visiting the Wachau Valley in Austria, every vineyard I visited practiced Biodynamic or mostly organic practices and the area between the vine rows looked gorgeous.
There were herbs, greens and flowers everywhere, with tons of honeybees and butterflies flitting around. It looked like a living green wonderland and having tasting the wines, they weren't suffering from this green thumb approach. The whole regions' dedication to nurturing the earth and living things in and within her surface was awesome.
Practicing organic and biodynamic isn't feasible for a lot of people due to financial concerns. It's more expensive, requires more people and sometimes means less product at the end of the season. However, seeing a whole region band together and commit was incredible.
This sensitivity to keeping the soil healthy was not just been limited to the Wachau, but since that was one region that stood firmly united in this front, I'm choosing it as an example.
However, seeing a whole region band together and commit was incredible.
With more and more environmental concerns around the globe, perhaps we should all take a moment and pause. We need to see what lessons we might be able to use from before fertilizers and pesticides, when solutions from nature were found. A time when planting one flower was done to attract the predator of a certain pest or the crops were regularity rotated and had fallow seasons to prevent soil depletion.
I'm not saying that new technologies are a villain by any means, but as with everything in life balance is the key. We need to come to a place where we can marry the ideas of careful land stewardship to the ever advancing technologies of today. We need to live in a world where we see the importance of preserving our heritage while looking forwards to see how we can contribute to the preservation for the future.
Next week will be talking about how important it is to take care of the people whom you are working with. As a wise friend of mine once said: “don't forget to water the flowers.”