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Day 34 of Clare Valley Vintage - Biodynamically thinking

Published:  23 July, 2008

G'day Folks. As a practicing fan of biodynamic farming, I'm well aware of the moon's influence on our environment and with the early Easter weekend fast approaching, it's obviously not just here to fulfill my hot cross bun addiction. There's a full moon rising.

Working in the Australian wine industry means that Easter is generally consumed by vintage. After 12 years of Catholic education, there's little wonder that I turned to the vinous vice. So whilst the commercialism of most holidays nowadays can sadly supersede their actual significance, it's the dates for Easter that will continue to remain sacred. In this instance, it seems that timing really is everything.

Easter Sunday is calculated using a lunar calendar that refuses to conform to modern day scheduling. Whilst western and eastern Christianity differ slightly depending upon the ancient calendar they use, some theorise it's always the first Sunday after the full moon following the March equinox.

This is the moment the sun crosses the equator. Obviously given the changes in cycles from year to year, so too do the dates of the holiday.

This time of year is sacred to many and whilst I'll be busy with other sacred ceremonies like monitoring ferments, plunging reds and planning the vineyard inputs, I also plan to be celebrating all that I'm grateful for. Given that I've sacrificed my social life for Lent/Vintage, I'm thinking this celebration will also include cracking open some special bottles. Surely no one would argue that Clare Valley Riesling is the perfect wine match for a Good Friday seafood feast.

So with some welcome relief to our hot weather today, one's mind starts to turn towards preparing the vineyard preparations to be applied during autumn. After vineyards are harvested it's important to restore energy to help them through their dormancy over the winter months.

Depending upon your philosophy of agriculture will depend upon your applications but I like to keep things natural. These natural biodynamic preparations act as a nutrient source and include preps like composted horn manure (prep 500) and horn silica (prep 501) and are generally applied when the moon is opposite the planet Saturn. Looking towards April 3rd the next couple of weeks for us are about preparing the ingredients for our compost and preps in readiness for application.

When it comes to biodynamics, one of our Gods, Mr Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was an Austrian philosopher and scientist who made significant contributions to agriculture. Steiner suggested that a flush of fertility and growth forces comes to the Earth with every full moon. The moon opposite Saturn is a specific time occurring each month when it's said that fertility and strength of form are enhanced by this planetary position and biodynamic farmers work with the Astro calendar to manage their timing of inputs.

The full moon will be this Saturday 22nd and so perhaps this Easter, during all of the festivities, you might just feel a little stronger in mind and in body. Perhaps it's because you're having some time off with family and opening some good bottles of your own. Perhaps you've realized you have lots to be grateful for or perhaps it's just your endorphins going crazy from the chocolate high.

Maybe your strength of spirit is in fact because of the full moon's glow. Steiner said that the object as a biodynamicist, is in fact not to have an ideal vineyard, but rather to have a vineyard that's in tune with itself. I would've thought that regardless of your worship, any religion would agree with that. Happy Easter.

Kerri Thompson is winemaker/director of KT & The Falcon