Biodynamic Farming

Our three ranches (Blue Heron, McNab and Butler) are certified Biodynamic® by Demeter and our status is reviewed annually to ensure that each ranch adheres to the Demeter Farm Standard. The principle of Biodynamic farming is the simplest way to understand what it is: a living organism which is self-contained, self-sustaining, and follows the cycles of nature.

Being self-contained and self-sustaining can be better understood by thinking of how farms functioned centuries ago. A family farm would often exist in isolation, requiring people, animals and plants to sustain one another. These systems function together to create a single living organism: the farm as a whole. We farm our Biodynamic ranches striving to achieve this ideal with as few external inputs as possible. Biodynamic farming is a holistic view of agriculture with high awareness of the interconnectivity between earth, plants, animals, humans, the moon and planets.

Preparations

There are nine Demeter certification required biodynamic preparations made from herbs, minerals and manures applied to our soil and vineyards to benefit the soil fertility with increased microorganism development and photosynthetic activity.

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Lunar Phases

We consult various Biodynamic calendars which recommend dates for sowing, cultivation and harvesting based on the complex movements of the moon and planets.

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Natural Partners

Life in all forms is a cornerstone for the Biodynamic approach. Sheep, chickens, birds and hundreds of insect species bring dynamic diversity to our ranches with countless benefits, assisting in our effort to be self-sufficient.

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OUR ESTATE VINEYARDS

Three of our ranches, including our home ranch, McNab, are certified Biodynamic by Demeter. We think of Biodynamic farming as “back to the future” – bringing back practices from centuries ago, when a farm had to be completely self-sufficient, and incorporating modern ways to “listen” to the land.

Blue Heron Ranch

Nestled between the shore of the upper Russian River and a blue heron nesting site and preserve, the Blue Heron Ranch beautifully integrates farming and wildlife. The fertile riverbank location is essentially the coolest part of the Mendocino County valley floor. This beneficial climate, coupled with ancient alluvial riverbank soil, creates a perfect home for Biodynamic farming.

McNab Ranch

The use of sheep for weed control and added biodiversity is still in practice today on our McNab Ranch, once a thriving sheep farm. Situated within a box canyon at the foot of the Mendocino County coastal range, the vineyard’s topography allows it to integrate more closely with the surrounding natural habitat and related cycles and processes.

Butler Ranch

This steep, historic mountain ranch was once a you-pick cherry farm. With its extreme elevation and rare Red Vine soil, Butler Ranch is perfectly suited for the Rhône varietals planted to it. The ranch is 900 acres in size with just 90 planted acres of vineyards. It is a truly breathtaking place, which overlooks Bonterra’s home on McNab Ranch.