BIOLOGICAL VITICULTURE, BIODYNAMIC…IS IT POSSIBLE TO DEFINE IT WITH JUST ONE WORD? WE DON’T THINK SO.
Agriculture is one of the oldest jobs on earth, going back to Neolithic times. The know-how and human expertise for growing plants today is the culmination of thousands of years and generations of humans managing a natural environment for their own interest. With the help of science, this know-how has had incredible advancements during the last century, and today agriculture involves many different powerful industries in the chemical sector, biotechnical sector, industrial sector, and very important economic interests.
At Aba Solleira, we’re science people with many years studying at different universities, but we’re also the generation who comes from rural families, who’s very existence is thanks to agriculture, and living off the land. Having a higher scientific knowledge doesn’t allow you to forget or give less value to the human expertise and heritage going back thousands of years, and a multitude of different crops and conditions that exist our planet. Agriculture has been the way of feeding humanity before any modern science research came along, but this has always been at the forefront of human foresight. Humans have long been interested in a more efficient and productive agriculture, with the first generally considered Agronomist in history, a Spaniard-Roman named Columela, taking place in the first century AD.
Today’s world population has the largest food needs in the history of our planet, and this means that our food is based off an important industrial food production, based on industrial agriculture. This system uses many advancements and technologies, that were only developed in the last century or so- farm machinery, mineral fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, herbicides- all with the goal of increasing yields, and decreasing production costs.
However, there are other ways of producing food and responsible agriculture management, and those are defined as Biological and Biodynamic. These terms might also be new as of the last century, but the ideas are as ancient as mankind itself.
At Aba Solleira we don’t use any definitions for our techniques and work in the vineyards, we just want to be reasonable in our grape and wine production, and have based our philosophy with the following ideas:
- All agricultural environments are unbalanced by definition, as there is an exogenous crop planted by humans, and for human goals that unbalance the environment. We want to balance our vineyards as much as possible in the natural environment by letting other plants, animals, and microbiology have as much development as possible. The more balanced vineyard environment, the stronger it will be against specific grape and vine pests and diseases
- Weeds, pests, and diseases aren’t our enemy, they are just part of nature that are sometimes antagonists of our human interests, while others are beneficial and help to increase the health of the overall vineyard environment. Wild weeds are the house and food source for many insects that eat other potentially harmful insets who destroy the vines and grapes. The same is true for microbiological species found in the vineyard- some are harmful to the vines and grapes, while others help the vines secure more nutrients and water from the soil, such as mycorrhiza. If we use herbicides, fungicides and insecticides only thinking to eliminate the negative pests, we’ll never truly get to the goal of eliminating them 100%, and in fact we’ll also eliminate the beneficial weeds, predator insects, and helpful microbiology. At Aba Solleira, we don’t use any herbicides, and wild weeds are welcome. We don’t use any mineral fertilizer that quickly changes the nutrient status in the soil, pH and osmotic pressure (salinity), in effect killing the soil’s microbiology. We don’t touch the soil with any type of machinery, helping to preserve the soil conditions, reduce erosion, and preserve microbiological life. We control the growth of any pests and diseases before deciding on any sort of intervention. The best way to do so is to maintain a good balance in the vineyard, with low grape yields, and proper trellising to increase air flow through the canopy and grapes- we’ve found this as the cheapest and best “fungicide” to use. Only in the case of extreme pest or disease issues that might compromise the quality and quantity of grape production, would we ever apply any sort of fungicide or insecticide. Even then, we use the most environmentally friendly solution possible, as our main goal in the vineyards is to have an environment as balanced as possible.
We promise to maintain our philosophy of producing the highest quality grapes, as it is the only way to produce the highest quality wine, respect mother Earth, as well as produce the healthiest wine possible, without any residual toxins. We are the ones who personally take care of the vineyards, the first ones to taste the wines. We want to take care of ourselves and only consume the healthiest products possible, and we want the same for our consumers as well.
In our philosophy, it is impossible to think that we are the ones producing the grapes- we see ourselves more as “grape keepers,” and know that the vines naturally produce the grapes, and all we can do is watch over each individual vine to ensure its health. In general, less human intervention means in many cases a much more balanced environment. This is possible with an integrated production system based on moderate yields and moderate natural resource exploitation. Lower grape yields are the main target, as this helps obtain the best concentration of flavors and aromas from the grapes, and in regard to the soil, it helps guarantee the long-term viability of our vineyards, as well as our way of living.