Faith, Gambling and Technique in the Vineyard
It’s very much like other Biodynamic-centered articles in which the personalities at the center of the story claim to have had great success with the system, yet prefer to either discount the somewhat
loony alchemical aspects of the practice or speculate that these practices "must be doing something" in the vineyard.
You don’t have to go back very far to see farmers applying mystical techniques to try to influence the creation of a better crop. They’ve used prayer, dances, and sacrifices in order to influence the outcome of their annual plantings. Biodynamics seems just about the same thing.
You have to remember, farmers are one part technicians, one part faithful and one part gamblers. The technicians in them employ the techniques in the vineyard they know help produce a better crop such as, in the case of wine grapes, particular irrigation regimes, certain trellising systems and the use of various crop covers among other techniques.
The faithful part of the farmer hopes, prays, looks to the sky and assumes this year will be like last year. Sometimes they help their faith along by employing somewhat odd practices such as many of the Biodynamic techniques that, well, are a bit odd.
The gambler in them is demonstrated by basing their living on the odds that the weather will be like it usually is, though they know that any number of natural disasters could arrive, without much warning, to wipe out their crops: Torrential rain at harvest, massive frosts during bud break, intense and extended heat toward the end of the growing season. While these aren’t "likely" to occur according to odds informed by past performance of Mother Nature, you can’t rule them out.
It’s not difficult to understand why some vintners would succumb to their faithful part and employ all the facets and practices of Biodynamic farming.