Lark Hill & Biodynamic Farming
Lark Hill was farmed using organic practices from inception in 1978, until a 'lightbulb' moment in 2003 when we attended a conference on Biodynamic farming. After touring Biodynamic vineyards, tasting Biodynamic wines and meeting luminaries of the industry, we dove head-first into the method. We are certified by NASAA (from 2006 onwards) as we believe that integrity is key to 'talking the talk' with how we farm our vines and make our wine.
Biodynamic farming is based on a series of lectures by Rudolph Steiner given in the late 1920s, addressing the problems of increased mechanisation of farming and abundance of chemical sprays and synthesised fertilizers.
At its heart, Biodynamics treats a farm as a living organism - a interconnected web where crop health comes as function of farm health, not in isolation. The first step to this is using the Organic farming standards to eliminate artificial, toxic inputs into the farm.
Beyond this, Biodynamic farming uses a collection of natural methods to increase crop health by re-establishing and supporting positive microbiology in the soil and on the crop itself.
The most common form of this is 'Preparation 500'; cow manure fermented in a cow-horn. The result is a soil starter culture of bacteria and fungi, which is cultured in warm (aerated) water and sprayed onto the soil surface. Included in this culture are Rhizobium bacteria, which fix atmospheric Nitrogen into plant-available nutrients, and mycorrhizal fungi, which form symbiotic relationships with plants to unlock otherwise unavailable nutrients from the soil.
In the winery, the organic limitations are also observed (with regards to chemical inputs), and the elimination of toxic sprays from the vineyard results in healthy natural yeast ferments, resulting in unique and diverse wines. We have a limit of 100mg/L of sulfur dioxide (preservative) under our certification - and our wines are often lower than this level; as a result, they will age predictably and safely - but may be more suitable for people with sulfur sensitivies.
Our wines are suitable for a vegan diet.
Because our wines are made without inputs, manipulation or chemical adjustment, each wine becomes a true realisation of "terroir" - the sense of time & place. They are unique to their vintage and vineyard - and each wine becomes a marker of a time and place in our own lives.
Finally, we use Biodynamics to achieve true sustainability - our farms are self-sufficient and the vines are managed in a way that means they will continue to thrive for generations to come.
Biodymamics isn't about dogmatic restrictions, or prescriptive farming, or a 'silver bullet' to solve a problem; it's a toolkit to help us learn about how to help our farm.
We welcome your questions!