Biodynamic is a method of farming that treats the vineyard as a living organism. It is based on a philosophy created by Austrian scientist Rudolf Steiner in 1924, who was also the founder of the Waldorf school system. Steiner created the "spiritual science" of anthroposophy, which was meant to understand science through the spiritual world.
Because the soil is treated like a living organism, it is therefore necessary to build its "immune system" and maintain its health. Since pesticides and chemicals tend to deplete the nutrients of the soil, biodynamic methods ban the use of both. Instead, following lunar and cosmic patterns, homeopathic methods called "preparations" are used to nurture and protect the soil from pests and disease. In short, the goal of biodynamic farming is to be in tune with the totality of life forces affecting the growth of the plant.
There are two main factors that make biodynamic farming distinctly different from organic farming. The first is the use of a complex system of herbal sprays and composting techniques, known as "preparations." The second is the timing of the operations on the vineyard and cellar, which is strictly regulated by the movements of the spheres. Demeter (www.demeter-usa.org) is the international organization that certifies and monitors biodynamic farmers around the globe. Biodyvin is a biodynamic wine certifying organization in France.
Many growers choose to borrow certain elements from biodynamics, applying only the principles they deem most suitable to their own vineyards on a case-by-case basis. Here we have distinguished between those who are fully certified and those who simply practice any number of elements of biodynamic viticulture and winemaking.