I can only give a personal answer to the question of understanding what biodynamics is. There are various possible definitions: it is a constantly developing movement and those within it do not tend to prescribe practices. It is a question of interpretation and adaptation, all of which is largely subject to evolving mindsets. So even though there is currently a boom in winegrowers and consumers with an interest in biodynamics, this is still a world of individual approaches.


At Fonroque and Mazeyres, biodynamics means implementing an experimental toolkit that enables us to support natural phenomena in order to gain the best possible results in terms of resistance to disease, supporting growth processes, and quality levels.


We know that nature is expressed in interactions, and our goal is to take account of all the key players in this natural conversation. The soil, the plant, the people working the land, and the local and distant environment all form part of the ‘body’ of the project. So we are very attentive and collaborative, and never underestimate a single element, whilst also remaining aware of our limits.
The role of biodynamics is to support genuinely complex phenomena via observation. And yet, the more curious we become and the greater our field of awareness, the more elements we will amass.
We are already entirely able to let organic and energetic mechanisms that offer good results operate independently again.


And of course, it is important not to be afraid of accepting what emerges, from the rational to the inexplicable, and to take a sometimes very intuitive approach in establishing connections. This is a key stance to take when it comes to getting involved in a whole that we are of course unable to totally control.


We use precise preparations to promote organic vigour and minerals in the soil as well as the plant’s growth rhythm, and draw on its spontaneous relationship with the soil, the moon and the constellations.


Our agricultural practices are influenced by the work of Maria Thun, who built extensively on the previous work of Rudolf Steiner, as this offers us a very relevant reading grid that nevertheless required some transposition as it did not make specific reference to winegrowing. The work this inspired is designed to encourage vines to achieve their archetypal potential, resulting in a decisive impact on the wines’ form of expression.


In his 1924 agricultural course, Rudolf Steiner (the creator of biodynamics) listed eight preparations designed to transform manure into specific compost, in other words a substance that has been knowingly altered on a microbiological level. The aim was to enrich the soil used to nourish the plant. These preparations act like an escort. Used in infinitesimal doses, they offer a wealth of information and activate natural mechanisms, in a context where what we are asking of plants is outside of its natural tendencies (whether for agriculture or domestication).


We work with these preparations, six of which are added to compost only and two of which are also sprayed over the vines. The six preparations numbered 502 to 507 are made from fermented plants and act like yeast. Across fifty years of research from 1960 onwards, Maria Thun – a pioneer of biodynamic gardening and the use of cosmic and lunar rhythms – established a link between plants and certain planets in the solar system in terms of how they influence the plant. Mercury is associated with chamomile, Venus with yarrow, the sun with nettles, Mars with oak bark, Jupiter with dandelion and Saturn with valerian. This reading grid is very creative and is of major structural interest.


The two other preparations, 500 and 501, are horn manure and horn silica. For the first, the horns of biodynamically reared cows are filled with cow manure and buried during the winter around 50 centimetres deep in a dedicated spot on the estate. For the second, the horns are filled with very finely milled quartz and buried during the summer in the same conditions. These horns are then dug up, and their contents are removed and either added to compost or sprayed over the vines in homeopathic doses after having been energised.


Each preparation boosts a plant life cycle. Horn manure promotes the vegetative stage, or vertical growth, from the tip of roots to the stems and leaves at the top. Horn silica promotes fruit-forming and the ripening of both wood and fruit.


As the soil is the result of source rock being broken down by the combined action of fungi, bacteria, yeast and insects, it is decidedly alive. This is a subject that is astonishingly underestimated, as soil is often reduced to just a mineral substrate. It would be like not paying any attention to a person’s skeleton. If treated as such, soil offers plants greater resistance to stresses of all kinds and improves their ability to adapt, in particular to climate change.

This is the opposite state of mind to the intense practices that destroy soils and dope up plants. Although an opulent harvest is ‘pleasing’, it is of no use if it is achieved without high-quality fruit or without preserving the terroir. The environmental argument is therefore clear, and supports our efforts to enhance wine by seeking depth, beautiful texture, a sophisticated profile, a lingering finish, balance and refinement.


To explain the lunar calendar, you have to mention the four elements.
In the fifth century BC, Empedocles described four main elements that he considered to be the root of all things: fire, air, water and earth. The fourth volume of Aristotle’s Meteorology offers a qualitative approach to the elements by pairing them with the qualities of hotness, moisture, dryness and cold. These descriptions formed the basis for the natural sciences in the Middle Ages, during which links were observed between the elements and the constellations.


Traditionally, the constellations of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are associated with the element of fire; Gemini, Libra and Aquarius with air; Pisces, Cancer and Scorpio with water; and Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn with earth.
The influence of the constellations is enhanced when the moon passes between them and the earth. For example, if the moon is in the Leo constellation, all fire-related elements in nature appear more present and pronounced.
The experiments undertaken by the researcher Maria Thun allowed every organ in a plant to be paired with an element and a moon position in a constellation.
The earth is linked with roots, water with leaves and stems (where sap circulates), air with flowers and the volatility of their pollen, and fire with fruit, as it is the fire of the sun that allows this fruit to ripen.


This is the basis upon which our calendar of activities is built, in order to make the most of subtle influences that are both verifiable and quantifiable.


Cosmology, astrophysics, matter physics, astronomy and its history, humanistic astrology and philosophy all clearly highlight that we should show an interest in things that we do not fully understand in the hope of one day understanding them better.


The way in which the effects of the moon are boost by planetary alignments is one of the things that interest us, quite simply because it has a tangible and even quantifiable impact. On this point, humanistic astrology has a lot to teach us, giving us the fruit of human-based work that we can to a certain extent transpose, without anthropomorphising.