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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Two years ago, I spent a weekend at Château l’Hospitalet, one of the nine estates owned by Gerard Bertrand, located in the Languedoc in the south of France. I recall Gerard’s passion as he shared his belief in l’art de vivre (the art of living). And recently, I was inspired again when he visited the U.S. to host a series of master classes to espouse how biodynamics magnify the expression of terroir in a grand vintage.
Gerard Bertrand started making wine with his father 43 years ago in the south of France. By 2002, Gerard began to change his view after reading Rudolf Steiner, the father of biodynamics. Having used homeopathy in his personal life, he connected with the principles of biodynamics and began converting his vineyards.
We hear stories of biodynamic producers planting cow horns and running naked through the vineyards. But, biodynamics are based on the spiritual/practical philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. It is a controversial topic among winemakers. Many are skeptical about the practice while others embrace it. One of the most well-known biodynamic winemakers from the Loire Valley in France is Nicolas Joly of Vignoble de la Coulée de Serrant. He is known as the father of biodynamic wine making and as a passionate environmentalist, at 69 years of age, Joly travels, writes and speaks about his beliefs. Nicolas Joly While on a press trip to the Loire Valley, we were scheduled to visit Coulée de Serrant and to our great surprise, Nicolas Joly was there to greet us when we arrived. We spent the next three hours walking through the vineyards, tasting his wines and listening to him wax poetic about his grapes.