Yesterday I went with my friend and co-worker Patricia to visit another winery named Emiliana just up the road from where we are living. Like Clos Apalta where we work, this vineyard is biodynamic, a widely accepted practice in Chile. Biodynamic viticulture takes organic to another level. From what I have come to understand, it is a principle that not only uses environmentally friendly practices such as composting, avoiding unnatural chemicals and pesticides, etc., but also follows celestial calendars for decisions like when to harvest. This is of course a very basic explanation of a complicated subject. Some wineries in the United States and Europe have been using these practices for years but overall in the wine industry I’ve been told, what might be seen as a “hippie movement” by some winemakers is being met with less resistance in Chile. I don’t know enough about the subject to form an opinion on it yet, but I don’t see any harm in treating the environment well and having less chemicals in my wine.
Winemaker Noelia of Emiliana was nice enough to show us around the property and explain some of their practices. The vineyards are gorgeous right now as it is Autumn and the countryside is a patchwork of yellows, oranges and reds. Noelia explained to us that they don’t spray chemicals to kill bugs because they find that everything has a balance. When you wipe out a population of one “pest” you find that inevitably you will have a sudden increase in the population of another critter that the first pest may have been keeping in check. So they have things like chickens that comb the fields for bugs. The chickens won’t wipe out the whole population but they help decrease numbers and simultaneously fertilize the vineyard. At Emiliana they also plant other vegetation the insects are attracted to near the vines. Noelia explained that if you give the insects somewhere else to go then they may not need to rely on the vines for sustenance. Next we were introduced to the Alpaca. These “woolly eaters” eat weeds and fertilize the vines. It all seems very tranquil and harmonious.
We also were given the opportunity to try a few of the wines. Like Clos Apalta, I thought the wines were very good. I don’t know how much of the taste is influenced by biodynamics but based on the result, I don’t think I would change anything. Our tour definitely inspired me to learn more about the viticultural aspect of the wine. After all, the terroir is where it all begins!