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Most eccentric biodynamic preparations

Biodynamic wine is a little kooky, right? To its critics, biodynamic viticulture is akin voodoo or witchcraft. Its supporters consider it to be simply working in tune with the natural world. Love or loathe the result, there is no doubt that the biodynamic approach and its methods are a little unconventional.

Ever wonder how weird it gets in the world of biodynamics? Let’s take a look at three of the most eccentric biodynamic preparations.

Three weird biodynamic preparations

It’s easy to shrug biodynamic wine off as a pseudoscience or folly. Some of the world’s leading winemakers have long sworn by the philosophy, though, and more are embracing it by the year. With top Burgundy, Bordeaux and California estates getting behind it, just how weird can it all be?

Well, seeing as you’ve asked…

  1. Preparation 500

The horn manure preparation, sometimes known simply as 500, is perhaps the most commonly cited example of biodynamics being a little “out there”.

It’s not exactly hard to see why. Demeter lays out some pretty odd – and oddly specific – instructions for this one, not the least of which involves stuffing a cow horn with “high quality” cow manure and burying the lot underground for the winter. Once exhumed, the preparation must then undergo a rather bizarre series of further treatments before being sprayed in its final form onto the vineyard. Eccentric enough for you?

Strange as the whole thing may sound, Demeter believes that it has some tangible benefits for the soil and plant roots, like encouraging microbial activity and regulating pH balance.

  1. Preparation 502

If a cow horn doesn’t do it for you, how about a deer bladder? Preparation 502 is not as well known as 500, but is perhaps even stranger. The preparations numbered 502-507 are used to produce a biodynamic compost.

This one requires freshly-harvested yarrow flowers, which doesn’t sound so bad. It doesn’t stop there, however. It gets weird, and fast. The vigneron must dry the yarrow and then sew it into the bladder of a deer, which is then hung out in the fresh air for an entire summer to take in all that good sunshine. In autumn, the bladder is buried. Winter comes and goes, and in spring the vigneron digs up the bladder and removes the yarrow, which is only now ready for the compost. Straightforward enough, right?

Demeter says that this one stimulates the plant’s intake of potassium and sulfur, promoting its reproduction and growth.

  1. Preparation 503

Preparation 503 combines the best of preparations 500 and 502 – that is, cows, internal organs and pretty flowers.

Here, the vigneron works with chamomile flowers, which are dried and then stuffed into some cow intestines (because why not?) and buried for the winter. In spring, the whole mess is dug up, the chamomile is extracted and added to the compost.

The supposed benefits here are again on plant reproduction and growth, this time by going to work on the compost’s nitrogen, calcium and potassium content.

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