If the Bush mis-administration isn't enough to get me thinking about moving out of the States, the above picture in the Press Democrat-- Mike Benziger in a room full of dismembered horns, (which looks like some bizarre pagan graveyard instead of a celebration of biodynamic farming) is.
And so, the bastardization of biodynamics continues.
Now, I am an anarchist, not a religious one, mind you. I just am not fond of rules. All you have to do is look at my apartment and you'll get the idea.
I admit to annoyance with the gung-ho biodynamic zealot who has a proselytizing, sign-em-up mentality. I have the same reaction to any born again whatever. But I’d rather have that religiosity than the marketing spin I read into Mike Benziger’s profile. There he is with his horns and buried in the piece is the revelation that only a tiny part--not the whole-- of his production is biodynamic. Then he says ‘this is what the market is demanding.”
I mean, what happened to the concept of making wine because of a passion? I didn't start to write because of what the market demands. I write because what else can I do? It is my fiber. My agent once wanted me to write a chick-lit wine book. And I tried. Really. I couldn't do it. "Too dark," she said. I want to make money (send assignments, please) but it has never been the ruling force in my life.
On this very topic, Paul Dolan of Mendocino Wine Co.--a company that 'develops' sustainably grown brands, said. "There is value in biodynamics for the consumer because you have to be close to your vineyard. We have no problem selling any of our biodynamic wines," he said. "Even though they're really expensive. Tribute sells for $80, we have a sauvignon blanc that sells for $30, no problem. From the research I've seen, the consumer is willing to pay more provided the quality is there."
Some biodynamic wines are expensive. Many are not, falling into step between $12-$20. Is Dolan doing the ground work for high priced California boutique biodynamic wines? Will we be seeing more people farming this way (or pretending to, is more of the reality) because of profitability?
Hah, say this to the folks at Clos Roche Blanche or Olivier Cousin. Their top wines don't sell for more than $18. The winemaking at both of these Loire estates is gorgeous.
Biodynamics is a very work intensive way of farming and forges a spiritual connection to the soil in a way conventional or sustainable (whatever that buzzword is beginning to mean) farming doesn't. And I really did believe that this genre of winemaking was safe from commercialization, and I really thought that if someone was going to grow biodynamically they wouldn't be wanting to muck it up in the winery. But, this is America. Nothing is safe.
Press Democrat URL: http://northbay.pressdemocrat.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060503/NEWS/60503048/1190/NORTHBAY02