Burying the cow horns in December
Followers of our blog will remember that at the end of last year we buried cow horns on the vineyard that had been filled with manure from local organic cows (here's a reminder of what we did!). Cow horn manure renews and improves the fertility of the soil. You can see a video of us filling the cow horns last year to find out more.
During the winter the manure fermented and earlier this week we dug them up the horns so that we could use their nutrient rich contents. As always, our premier cru wine club members bravely volunteered to get their hands dirty! Our new vineyard assistant Dominic also got involved - what a way to start a new job...
We emptied the contents of the cow horns, dynamised the fermented cow manure in water, and then sprayed it on the vineyard. According to the biodynamic calendar this ideally needs to be done on a full moon before Easter, so Tuesday was the chosen day. This mixture is called Preparation 500 and it primarily acts through the soil and the root system to strengthen growth, enabling the vines to connect more strongly with minerals in the soil, encouraging a sense of terroir in the grapes and ultimately the wine.
Nick, Alex and Dominic with our Premier Cru wine club members
We have also sprayed a tea of equisitum (horsetail) on the vineyard which helps to surpress fungi back into the earth, hopefully reducing the threat of downy mildew. As the growing season progresses we will spray horn silica on the vines to help their growth and development. Our compost piles are developing well having been mixed with cow pat pit which is made by mixing cow manure with crushed egg shell and basalt dust, then fermenting it with preparations 502 to 507 for three to four months in a 12 inch deep pit lined with bricks. We hope that this preparation will stimulate soil activity and enhance the humus forming process of the soil. It also helps to initiate the fermentation of manure and activates organic matter conversion in compost. Research carried out after the Chernobyl disaster showed how it helped reduce the effects of radioactive fallout on land where it was applied.
More and more vineyards in Europe, Australasia and South America are now adopting a biodynamic approach. Whilst some see it as madness most sommeliers now recognise that biodynamic wines are some of the best in the world.
On another note, we have had bud burst on the vines for a couple of weeks now so frost watch has begun!