While many wine writers and much media makes biodynamics sound like it is a complicated way to farm, King Estate's Ray Nuclo, in a farmer to farmer video on CaliforniaAgNet, says it's really pretty simple.
King Estate was certified organic in the early 2000's, but when Nuclo, an experienced organic viticulturist, joined the company in 2015, he was charged with converting its 465 acre organic vineyard in the southernmost part of the Willamette Valley, with going biodynamic.
In one year.
He told American Vineyard Magazine's reporter, Matthew Malcolm, that going biodynamic was straightforward - minimizing offsite inputs, using sheep for weed control before bud break, composting grape must to use as fertilizer, and using what are called the preps - adding herbal and mineral sprays and teas to compost and vines.
The preps were new to Nuclo, he said, but are now part of the routine, supercharging and promoting the natural life in the soils and plants, he said.
While others believe that biodynamic farming is a marketing tool, Nuclo credits the owners' commitment to treating the land well as the primary motivation for being biodynamic.
While the company makes 150,000 cases of wine each year, it blends its grapes with purchased grapes for 95 percent of its production, holding back five percent for its small lot, estate wines, which are certified under Demeter's "Made with Biodynamic Grapes" standard. (That standard is identical to the "Made with Organic Grapes" standard, substituting biodynamic grapes for organic ones.)
Asked for advice to others who may be contemplating a transition to biodynamic farming, Nuclo said, "It can be a little intimidating at first, but it's not as hard as you might think."
"You just have to have the right inputs and know what to do at the right time," he said.