Culture & Entertainment

Biodynamics at Southbrook Vineyards

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Biodynamics at Southbrook Vineyards

Guest blog by Sarah Manning

Southbrook Vineyards Before I visited Southbrook Vineyards, I had never heard of biodynamics. Southbrook is a certified organic and biodynamic farm. I assumed that if these two things were not the same, they had to be pretty close. I was wrong. Biodynamics was first developed in the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner, who believed that both the celestial and terrestrial worlds should be used to benefit agriculture, food production and nutrition. These ideas are the basis for biodynamics, a practice that grows and develops with each farm. Biodynamic farmers work to create a balanced ecosystem within their land to produce healthy crops. Biodynamics also strives to incorporate the movement and forces of celestial bodies into their farming practices. Most importantly, biodynamic farms aim to be ecologically, economically and socially sustainable. While at Southbrook, I learned about one of the practices of biodynamics, something called a preparation. Southbrook creates the biodynamic Preparation 500 by filling 150 cow horns (one for each acre of property) with cow manure and burying those horns in the ground for the winter. In the spring, the horns are dug up, and the decomposed cow manure is prepared and sprayed across the property in amounts of just grams per acre. A week before my visit, the cow horns had been dug up and the preparation distributed. I was shown the empty horns in one of the original buildings at Southbrook. “There were only two buildings on the property,” says Bill Redelmeier, who co-owns Southbrook with his wife, Marilyn. “One was a stone shed, and the other was a dry shed. Everything else was a blank slate.” To fill that blank slate, the Redelmeiers employed Canadian architect Jack Diamond to create the main building on the property. Every room (except for the bathrooms) looks onto the vineyard, the focus of the Niagara-on-the-Lake estate. “A lot of wineries have this idea: ‘From my winery you can see Toronto,’” says Redelmeier. “Coming from Toronto, the last thing I want to see is Toronto. I love that we look out onto the vineyards.” In front of Southbrook’s main building are bioswales (channels that extend across the front of the vineyard), another contributor to biodynamics at the vineyard. The water from any hard surface (which can be contaminated from cars in the parking lot) flows through filtration media in four different chambers, each about 12-feet deep. After over 40 feet of filtration, this water, though it may not sound appealing, is completely potable. Southbrook wines Southbrook produces five different lines of wine: Connect, Triomphe, Whimsy, Poetica and icewine. Personally, I was impressed by their more budget-friendly Connect wines. Connect offers a red and a white wine, both of which are inviting blends of local organic grapes for an affordable price ($15.95). My favourite wine of the day? A 2011 Poetica chardonnay that is sadly outside of my current budget ($49.95), but exemplifies the care and connectivity that goes into the biodynamic wine at Southbrook. Looking to taste some wines in your area? Here’s our list of the best places to go wine tasting across Canada.
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Biodynamics at Southbrook Vineyards

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