Winery - Sustainability
BIODYNAMIC WINE - BURCH FAMILY WINES
“All of our biodynamic effort is focused on the Marchand & Burch wines with some flowing into Howard Park wines. Some but not all of the source blocks are receiving what I describe as full biodynamic treatment (500 soil spray + 501 atmospheric spray, biodynamic compost, casuarina tea foliar sprays, no systemic fungicides, no herbicides, no synthetic fertilisers and all operations scheduled according to the astro calendar including carrying out harvest and winemaking operations on fruit days).”
Vineyards / blocks PRODUCING BIODYNAMIC WINES include:
Leston Vineyard (Margaret River)
Block 17 Shiraz (exclusive source of fruit for Marchand & Burch Shiraz), Block 30 Cabernet Sauvignon (recently established dryland and biodynamic from outset, potential source of Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon or even higher-end Cabernet Sauvignon). All other blocks supplying fruit for Howard Park wines (eg. Howard Park Leston Cabernet, Leston Shiraz and Miamup Cabernet) are receiving organic treatments and little or no input of synthetic fertilisers, fungicides or herbicides.
Block (Margaret River)
Block 1 Cabernet and Block 2 Cabernet are both biodynamic from establishment (both contribute to Howard Park Leston Cabernet).
Mt Barrow (Great Southern)
Block D Pinot Noir (source of Marchand & Burch Mt Barrow Pinot Noir) is biodynamic from establishment, high density, narrow row planting and has multiple Burgundy clones. Block H Chardonnay (potential source of Marchand & Burch Chardonnay) and all other blocks supplying fruit for Howard Park wines (eg. Howard Park Chardonnay, Howard Park Flint Rock Chardonnay, Howard Park Sauvignon Blanc, Howard Park Riesling, Howard Park Flint Rock Pinot Noir) are receiving organic treatments and reducing input of synthetic fertilisers, fungicides and herbicides.
Gibraltar Rock (Great Southern, Porongurup)
The entire vineyard has received Biodynamic treatments for the last 7 years. It consists of a Chardonnay Block (source of Marchand & Burch Chardonnay), Pinot Block (exclusive source of Marchand & Burch Gibraltar Rock Pinot Noir) and Riesling Blocks (source of Howard Park Porongurup Riesling and Howard Park Riesling)
All Marchand & Burch wines are being made biodynamically at our Denmark winery under the direction of Pascal Marchand.
Download our Biodynamic Calendar of operations for vineyard activity
All biodynamic blocks, B-Block, Leston Vineyard Margaret River, Mt Barrow and Gibraltar Rock in the Porongurups use biodynamic sprays.
Preparation 500 (Builds soil structure, and humus, attracts soil life and increases water holding capacity.) To be sprayed out before bud-burst and before flowering. Timing: Triangle planetary aspect and descending moon.
Preparation 501 (Balances atmosphere for insect attack, protects against fungal disease, increases ripening.) to be sprayed on its own from veration up to harvest two or three times. Timing: Moon opposition satin or on an ascending moon. Morning for growth, afternoon for ripening.
Casuarina tea with sulphur mix sprays out from flowering 7 to 10 days apart. Stir tea in Biodynamic flow-form one hour before adding to sulphur.
Interview on Biodynamics with Chief Viticulturist, Dave Botting, 30/11/2011
Q1. A lot of organic producers I have been speaking to have said while they are big advocates of organic/ eco-friendly practices in the vineyard and winery, they stop short of being fully biodynamic and certified because it is often impractical and unworkable. Do you agree?
Howard Park has adopted both organic and biodynamic principles and practices in its vineyards and wineries. Its adoption of these practices is driven primarily by a determination to improve the sustainability of its viticulture and to optimise the expression of its vineyard sites, grape varieties and winemaking. While we have not yet sought certification we are equally determined to adopt these practices fully and without compromise. Not seeking certification is more about priorities than any concerns about the practicality or workability of any one of the several standards and certification schemes. Our focus right now is on improving soil health and biological function. Four years in we believe we are already achieving sustainable improvements in vine health and reducing or eliminating the need for inorganic chemical inputs.
Q2. What biodynamic principles do you adhere to/follow and what parts are too regulated/controlled for your liking?
We rely mainly on Pascal Marchand, our Joint Venture winemaking partner who has had close to 20 years of experience with biodynamics in Burgundy, and, to a lesser extent, Biodynamics Australia for advice on appropriate practices and timing. We make our own Preparation 500 and source other preparations including 501 from Biodynamics Australia. The biodynamic compost we apply to the vineyard annually is based on pre-composted grape marc, pressings and lees retained at our wineries which we layer with green material, straw and animal manures before inserting biodynamic compost preparations. The biodynamic preparations are energised using flowforms at each of our vineyards and are applied using dedicated spray equipment. We also augment our wettable sulphur based fungal disease management program with teas made from local plants such as casuarina. All operations including application of preparations and compost to the vineyard, harvesting and winemaking are done at optimal times according to the Antipdean Astro Calender.
We have not found any of the practices to be too regulated or controlled and with good planning we have, so far, not had to compromise on the timing of operations, especially hand harvesting of grapes at otherwise optimal maturity and flavour development.
Q3. Do consumers care whether wines are organic/ biodynamic and do you put it on the label? or is more about making better quality/ environmentally friendly wines?
While our primary focus is on making better quality and more environmentally friendly wines, we believe many of our consumers do care and want to know about our practices. At this stage we rely mainly on informing our interested consumers via our website and other electronic and print media rather than via a registered trade mark on our wine labels indicating certification against a particular standard.
Q4. What are the drawbacks/advantages of being organic and opposed to biodynamic?
Organic and biodynamic agriculture are fundamentally similar in terms of their focus on soil health and reducing or eliminating synthetic inputs. As such we don’t view them separately as having particular drawbacks or advantages. Although many of the claimed benefits of biodynamics are intangible and difficult to measure we intend to continue fully adopting the practices in our vineyards without out comprise and leave it up to our informed consumers to judge for themselves whether or not we are on the right track.
Clive Coates MW on Bio-Dynamism
"It would seem odd, on the face of it, that Burgundy, the most disperse and morcellated of all France's vignobles, should have such a large proportion of its territory now cultivated bio-dynamically – 1600 hectares, or 5.3 percent of the total surface, at the last count. After all what your neighbours do, only a few rows of vines away, is bound to impinge on what you have done in your vines. How bio-dynamic is it possible to be in this situation?
But then Burgundy, God bless, is nothing if not a vineyard area of individualists. The refreshing fact is that here the proprietor is the wine-maker, the chef de cave and the chef de culture, as well as probably the book-keeper in his or her spare time. Decisions can be taken, perfectionism persued, without reference to endless committees of finance wizards and shareholders. Bio-dynamism works, though it is more expensive than the lutte raisonnée (the ordinary, sensible, reactive viticultural approach). The wines are better, and more representative of their origins.
Within a decade, I predict that 10 percent of Burgundy will be bio-dynamic.”