If you’re planning to get into bio-dynamic wines, then you would be well advised to do it for all the right reasons, rather than just looking for monetary gain or niche marketing.
Rob and Pauline Bryans, owners of biodynamic wine producer Avonmore Estate, advise not to get involved in biodynamics if you really don’t believe in it or have a commitment to the land.
“Biodynamics requires a lot of patience, understanding and observation, “Pauline says. “It is something we have learnt over many years and have always believed in. It requires a lot of hard work to be successful, there are no quick fix solutions”.
Avonmore Estate is a certified biodynamic red wine producer and family farm near Elmore in the Bendigo wine region. Avonmore wine bottles carry the internationally recognized Demeter certification of the Biodynamic Research Institute, Powelltown, Victoria, confirming the credibility of its biodynamic status.
Pauline and Rob have run the sheep and beef cattle property for more than 20 years with biodynamic certification and accreditation. They diversified into viticulture in 1996 to make the farm more viable while not creating a monoculture. The entire farm is certified including the vineyard and winery. The sheep and cattle are grown biodynamically and are keenly sought by specialist Melbourne butchers.
Avonmore uses no pesticides, synthetic chemicals, fungicides, weedicides or other artificial additives. The vines are all cane pruned so as not to leave and ald wood on the vines, and the prunings are burnt, alongwith round straw bales, to avoid vine damage in high frost risk periods at budburst.
Pauline says more and more consumers are enquiring about biodynamic wines.
“And more and more people, not just consumers who want biodynamic wines, are saying they won’t touch red wines because of the high sulphides,” she says.
“We explain to consumers we only add minimal sulphur, and we suggest that they open the bottle one hour before drinking or decanter the wine to dissipate the free sulphur. A lot of young people, especially women, are showing more interest in biodynamic wines. Alternately a lot of our older people and wine savvy customers can’t drink red wines like they used to because of the chemicals used and the reaction they experience.
“We did a tasting at the opening of Federation Square in Melbourne and met a professional couple in their mid 50s who said they had to cut back on red wine consumption because there was something in it these days that knocked them for six. They bought our wines and have had no ill effects, and now they are among our best customers and are ‘sales reps’ to other consumers.”
Pauline says being a biodynamic wine producer hasn’t really meant more work, particularly as the vineyard was planted on biodynamic soils – making it possibly the only vineyard in Australia with that status.
“Most organic/biodynamic vineyards start as conventional and spend years converting to certification,” she says.
“The viticulture and winemaking are more labour intensive, however it is more prevention than cure and, as many wine producers acclaim, the wine is made in the vineyard.”
Pauline and Rob like to hand-sell the wines, which are made by their son Shaun, at trade shows and tastings where possible, because they see themselves as the best salespeople of their product.
“As our wines are a bit different we really have to get out there in the marketplace and sell the product and tell the story about why our wines are different,” Pauline says.
Avonmore has captured the imaginations of Canadian wine consumers, with the 2001 Avonmore Shiraz the best overall red wine at the Organic & Biodynamic Wine Symposium in Vancouver earlier this year.
Pauline and Rob received an offer from a UK importer but declined due to price.
“What that did was show the difficulty competing in global trade with cheaper imports from other countries.” Pauline says
Avonmore is currently establishing export markets in Asia, particularly Thailand.
The winery produced its first wine from its new winery this year, processing about 47 tonnes of estate grown fruit. The wines, which have won medals at wine shows across Australia, sell for $20 to $22 at cellar door.