The Spiritual Science of Wine: Analyzing the Growth of Biodynamic Wine in the United States

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John Wargo
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The United States is currently seeing an increase in number of biodynamic vineyards, most of which are concentrated in Napa Valley, California, and Willamette Valley, Oregon. Biodynamic agriculture can be described most easily as one step beyond organic agriculture: it takes organics and adds a spiritual component. In order to be certified biodynamic, a farm must satisfy the requirements of both the National Organic Program and Demeter USA, the biodynamic certification agency in the United States. Given the reputation that biodynamics has acquired for having techniques that use “voodoo” or “witchcraft,” this paper explores the impetus behind the production of biodynamic wine, and the subsequent execution of said production. It delves into the technicalities behind certification, the scientific legitimacy of biodynamic agriculture, and the efficacy of biodynamic techniques, in addition to synthesizing interviews with biodynamic grape farmers and winemakers in Willamette Valley. Each of these topics is placed within a more familiar framework: that of organic agriculture.