On Saturday, Farm Manager Christiaan Loots and Marketing Assistant Nadia Barnard attended Monty Waldin’s highly-anticipated Biodynamic Wine Workshop. If there’s anyone who knows their stuff about biodynamics, it’s Monty, the leading international expert on organic wines and the author of The Biodynamic Wine Guide 2011.
The focus of the workshop was on biodynamic preparations, and using cow pat pit manure to add bacteria and other micro-organisms to a vineyard. Now, while many might wrinkle their noses and feel a bit squeamish at the thought of working with cow dung, Christiaan and Nadia have been working with cow pat pit manure for 3 years now, and couldn’t wait to learn more about it from Monty. It’s similar to Prep 500 (horn manure) which we also use at Waterkloof, where the 6 biodynamic compost preparations (chamomile, valerian, oakbark, yarrow, nettle, and dandelion) are added. The cow pat manure is a mixture of cow dung, egg skins and volcanic ash, which get mixed together and aerated for an hour. This then gets buried in a hole, which is lined with bricks. At this stage, chamomile and other teas are mixed in to increase the enzymatic reaction. This will be left in the hole for a few weeks to ferment, covered with a damp hessian bag to keep moist, and will then be mixed with water and eventually spread into the vineyard to boost its natural immunity.
This cow pat manure is a fast way to get the 7 preparations out into the vineyard, without using large quantities of compost. It is actually the energy from these 7 preparations, also known as 502-507, that is the most important ingredient, and not the cow pat itself.
We’re excited to see how Christiaan uses what he learnt in this workshop out in our vineyards, with the help of our beautiful Jersey cows. For now, though, we’ll keep our distance – until he has washed his hands, at least!