There is nothing unique about nature,
nature is made of variability.
There is nothing unique about nature,
Grapes, landscapes, men are part of a whole
To work with nature refines the ability to listen, involves the farmer’s spirit and habits, and leads to a deep understanding of the vital processes. Besides the practical aspects, we embrace a different dimension which, going beyond the materialistic aspects, is enriched with a more spiritual essence.
Thus we discover a different nature, made up of macrocosms and microcosms; pulsating with life and giving voice to a multitude that is never trivial. This is nature inviting us to listen and to consider every farming action as part of a complete cycle rather than an end unto itself.
A farming landscape rich with variety is of great value and must be protected, taken care of, narrated and rebuilt.
Thus we have planted old fruit varieties and hedges around our vineyards, reintroduced animals to the estate, tended the grass between the rows by sowing a variety of plants.
Butterflies, insects and birds have proliferated. Even if Trentino is a region where intensive farming is practiced, nature has reacted and almost shown us its gratitude.
From soil to grape
Little do we know of the life that beats beneath a plant, of the soil that lives thanks to an infinite profusion of microorganisms. Yet, it is thanks to the increase in microbiological activity arising from the use of biodynamic preparations, to the care invested in soil management, to the balance reached by the very plant that has interacted positively with the soil that we contribute to maintain and increase the fertility of the soil. Only with a soil that is alive can we harvest fruits that are alive.
The interaction between the land and the men that work on it, their thoughts, feelings and moral development is a reflection of what the farmer feels in his soul.
Our task is to encourage and guide the plant: only by protecting the soil’s fertility will we obtain a well-balanced vine that is resistant and able to respond better to the extreme climatic conditions of these recent years. It is only by reasoning and working through these complex relationships that tangible results are obtained.
We have grown used to walking in our vineyards, surrounded by flowers, to observe attentively every plant and to establish a fragile and intense relationship with each one. Every vine has a different appearance that reveals its health; the vigor of the shoots and its stance indicate if a balance has been attained and if our actions have been correct.
By refining our ability to observe, we have grasped many nuances and the gratitude that a well-cultivated vine tries to express. We noticed it in not pruning the branches anymore, not cutting the leaves near the grape bunch, by avoiding deep cuts while pruning, by letting the wild grasses flower freely between the rows. Our vineyards have become more receptive: every infusion sprayed has a beneficial effect; to spray a few grams per hectare of the 501 preparation brings light into the plant.
At the end of September, when we pick our fruit, the feeling that inspires us is joy and gratitude.
We started using biodynamic preparations in 2002 after long consideration and comparison with our past work.
Biodynamic farming is a “solar” agronomic operation: every action in the field tends to bring the Sun’s forces into the soil’s and plant’s vital processes. Our planetary system is truly a living organism where each planet’s sphere of influence penetrates the sunlight that permeates the Earth.
The use of biodynamic preparations catalyzes these forces.
We haven’t abandoned the modern spirit of knowledge and research, but have attempted to bring man and his spirituality back into science, considering not only the materialistic aspects of nature but devoting ourselves to a deep awareness of the vital processes.
Modern man has forgotten that nearly all human activities gravitate around agriculture.
In the midst of our vineyard’s leaves, blackbirds, thrushes and finches have come back to nest; later in spring, butterflies, bees and many other insects have come back to take residence in the vineyards.
We have gone back to tending the grass between the rows of vine; we have planted hedges and lately have started keeping animals on the estate.
In Fontanasanta the stables and henhouses have been brought back to life; we use manure to make our compost heaps.
Our aim is to work in a closed-cycle farming organism, i.e. a self-sufficient one. The human/social, plant, animal and mineral components have synergetic roles and as such are given equal consideration in our day-to-day activities.
Biodynamic preparations act “dynamically” and not in a quantitative way: we use very small quantities that correspond to a negligible input of the substance. Through the use of these biodynamic preparations, previously “dynamized” in water, information is brought to the soil and to the plant, activating the life processes and therefore the fertility.
When the biodynamic preparation is stirred with a circular movement, the centrifugal force makes the liquid rise up the sides of the container, while the centripetal force digs a funnel in the center of the vortex. When the stirring direction is changed, all is inverted. The dynamization procedure thus generates a movement and a shape, as well as the oxygenation necessary for the proliferation of life. The creation of the vortex has an important role since its surfaces enclose the substance to be dynamized: the inversion of these surfaces as a consequence of the change of direction transfers the “memory” of the substance into the water.
We have found forgotten rhythms and beats in the actions associated with the elaboration of the preparations, their preservation, dynamization and distribution.
Farming is once again close to man.
In this way, we are able to walk through our vineyards and to observe them with different eyes. Every farming action is born from the perception of a signal disclosed by the plant.
The life cycle of the seed: introductory concepts
The world would be without living creatures were it not for the connection between living organisms.
These organisms nourish themselves on the “scraps” or waste created by other living organisms, genetically different to them (they in turn nourished themselves on the scraps of other organisms). Waste is toxic to those it is produced by so organisms search out foreign waste in order to continue this cycle.
Similar to the spiritual world, the material world evolves its ideas through a mutual exchange.
By not spreading or mixing organisms we risk disease. Considering these factors, it is essential to the future health of our plant life that we create and sustain diversity.
15 years ago we began using seeds to enable us to create new and vital diversity within our grape varieties Nosiola and Teroldego to express true terroir.
Our journey through the life cycle of a seed
Vines are self-fertilizing plants, in that they can more or less be fertilized by the pollen of other vines.
The supreme diversity and variability of a vine’s genome makes it possible for each grape to create a plant that is different from the next, as vines are heterozygous.
The vitis genus has both a genotypic and phenotypic variability thanks to the ancient process of reproduction by seed. During this process a genetic recombination takes place, together with spontaneous mutations in nature and interaction with the environment.
We know that man has been cultivating vines since Neolithic times, initially making use of natural materials available to him. It’s reasonable to therefore assume that these first winemakers reproduced vine populations that derived from seed, assuming that they were in fact all from the same variety. In reality they had a genotypic difference but a phenotypic similarity.
Taking this into consideration, we can conclude that these varieties were characterized by a high genetic variability which unfortunately has since been largely diminished due to clonal selection that has not considered the necessities of retaining biodiversity.
Traditionally, clonal selection requires that the genetic base of the population variability has been synthesized in a restricted number of genotypes with the highest number of positive characteristics. This way of working has drastically reduced the variability within grape vine populations subjected to clonal selection, especially in restricted areas.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
This famous phrase by Charles Darwin indeed offers a nod towards further consideration.
Through asexual reproduction man has overtime created a system that goes against nature, effectively halting genetic recombination, as genetic recombination should allow living organisms to evolve or prepare themselves to face ever more unpredictable environmental changes.
In light of the above the need to salvage the vine’s genetic heritage via natural processes has come about. Sexual reproduction is a reproductive strategy, a sort of maneuver by nature that ensures that living organisms are able to adapt themselves to the constant environmental changes.
The self-fertilizing technique that we apply is a useful way of increasing phenotypic expression, whereby we can obtain segregates which demonstrate similar characteristics to the starter grape variety and also some new characteristics, not initially present in the phenotypic expression.
The characteristics, both morphological of the plant, and those integral in the berry, segregate: they manifest themselves with a greater amplitude in their phenotypic expression, compared to the starter variety.
The sowing of grape seeds obtained by self-fertilization is a way of revealing the “hidden” variability of the vine.
The art of listening
As we taste the wine, we are able to perceive its essence and energy. As we look at the evolution in time of the sensitive crystallization images of Teroldego, Nosiola or Manzoni Bianco, we see our abstract impressions take shape in the increasingly dense and fine crystals.
There are no numbers or data, but simply perceptions: thus we feel we are part of a natural cycle, are able to combine our knowledge with the intuitive understanding of nature, to be part of its rhythms. We have finally started listening and have understood.