The 8th Southern Biodynamic Viticulture Meeting took place at Vina Matetic October 25–27, with talks led by Jean-Michel Florin, Goetheanum’s Director of the Section for Agriculture, and attended by the leaders of organic and biodynamic viticulture in Latin America.
This year’s topic was “New Directions for Grape Growing.” Host winery Vina Matetic, located in the Casablanca and San Antonio Valleys in the Valparaiso Region, is one of Chile’s pioneering wineries in organic and biodynamic agriculture.
More than 100 people from Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Greece, and Chile attended the event, which addressed issues such as the Goethean approach to planting vines; the future direction of biodynamic agriculture for viticulture; the vine: its structures, relationships and paradigm shifts; and other topics.
“This is my first time in Chile, and I am amazed at how many people are here. We have seen how to improve the care of our lands through biodynamic viticulture during this experience at Vina Matetic, where we have been able to see many things, such as the landscape design, the integration of animals, and the commitment of the people,” explained Jean-Michel Florin, a world leader and expert on biodynamic viticulture.
Jean-Michel was in charge of the event’s morning sessions and discussed biodynamic concepts that are relevant to vine growing based on the principles and philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. For example, he addressed shifting the perspective of “agricultural exploitation” toward an “agroecosystem that closes the cycle of substances.” Florin led the group to observe all of the elements in a landscape’s agroecosystem in order to find the vital space in each that enables the expression of their individuality. He went on to explain that this is how every species of every kingdom finds its balance and yields the best it can to maintain a landscape in harmony with humankind, nature, and the cosmos. This led to the concept and practice of the agricultural organism, a pillar of biodynamic agriculture, and to the discovery of “genius loci,” in which every place between the earth and the sky has a particular spirit, a unique characteristic all its own.
Florin also discussed how to maintain the health of the agricultural organism through the concept and practical application of ‘salutogenesis,’ or strengthening its health. He then led the participants along a path of wisdom regarding the six medicinal plants whose particular properties make them important for biodynamic agriculture for their particular properties—chamomile, oak, nettle, valerian, yarrow, and dandelion—all of which are associated with biodynamic preparations and compost.
Ultimately, Jean-Michel suggested working on four elements to improve the vineyards. First, link the terroir with the cosmos; second, work on the regeneration of the vine itself (restore its vitality); third, be aware of the vine’s sensitivity to the local environment; and fourth, strengthen the social component of our initiatives. Through this, the participants were able to observe Viña Matetic’s work with biodynamic preparations, vineyards and blueberries, raising animals, and the winery itself, as well as experiencing the outcome through a tasting of the Vina Matetic EQ line of organic and biodynamic wines.
The three-day event also allowed the winemakers and producers with opportunities to exchange ideas on biodynamic agriculture through activities such as painting, singing, and eurythmy led by Waldorf teachers. These activities enabled the participants to express their commitment to the anthroposophical philosophy through techniques of voice, movement, and art.
At the end of this year’s meetings, the location of the 9th Southern Biodynamic Viticulture Meeting to take place in November 2019 at Bodega Superuco in Mendoza, Argentina, which is headed by Argentine viticulturist Matías Michelini. The imposing landscape and Andean routes make this a fascinating location for the next meeting.
Cristian Gwinner von Matetic