Nature is a great Totality; forces are acting from all sides.
Rudolf Steiner

In 1924, during a series of conferences for farmers in Koberwitz, Poland, Rudolf Steiner set the basis for biodynamic agriculture and the anthroposophic understanding of nature.

This approach aims at clarifying spiritual and mental aspects, as well as the energy influences, and proposes techniques that may find a practical application in agricultural cultivations. 

The decision of putting into practice the concepts of biodynamics in our reality was – and still remains – a process that starts from the vineyard itself. In the vineyard, matter is found under the form of vine and earth, which encounter the winemaker’s ideas and ideals, as well as their love for nature. The vineyard is therefore the place where matter and spirit are combined to support the fecundity of nature. 

At the very beginning of his course for farmers, Rudolf Steiner analysed the rhythms existing between Earth and the universe, along with their fundamental importance in a type of agriculture that holds into account spirituality and humanity. 
We were particularly impressed by this priority: indeed, the vineyard is a chance to observe many events that present themselves with the same, steady rhythm and for which no explanation is found in the sometimes too “rigid” knowledge gained through study.
Hence, we were driven towards a deeper study of Steiner’s course on agriculture and, curious about the techniques he suggested, we started to integrate them in our experience. 

Our daily work as winemakers makes us aware of our relationship with plants and the land in the surrounding natural setting, and inevitably requires from us a critical analysis of our actions.
Observing the numerous biological, biochemical, and physical processes and reactions occurring in the vineyard on a daily basis is fascinating, and discovering that everything is interconnected and should, in fact, be considered as one living organism is a matter of great wonder.

Each action, each natural event, each practical intervention operated by the winemaker has consequences on everything, and ultimately impacts on the quality of wine and on human well-being. 

The key to anthroposophy ultimately lies in considering a farm as a whole organism, but without losing sight of its individual parts. 
The biodynamic cultivation of vines thus requires pursuing the integration - through a holistic approach - of all aspects of winemaking: from soil quality to the characteristics given by the position of the vineyard; from the choice of vine varieties to be planted to the ground that is suitable for them; from vine and grape growth to protection against diseases, and so on, passing through thousands of small, practical steps and decisions that will lead us to the decisive moment of opening the bottle.

The plant

According to the anthroposophic vision, the vine, just like any other plant, has a physical (material) body and a superior and spiritual etheric body containing life.
The etheric body is born from the interaction of four formative etheric forces. These follow rhythmic sequences that define the organisation of the vine within time and space and are responsible for the development, structure, and degradation of the plant. 

The polarity between earthly and cosmic forces forms a constantly evolving energy field, where all biological, chemical, and physical processes observed in nature are triggered.
The processes that promote quality within the organism of the vine are thus also stimulated and enhanced by the tension between cosmic and earthly forces. 

Perceiving these polarities is a decisive step towards understanding, in the present case, the vine. The earthly influence impacts above all on the vegetative processes that develop matter, while cosmic forces are present in the generative processes of flowers and fruits.

The etheric formative forces

The four formative, cosmic and earthly forces oppose in a polar way:



Heat ether


Chemical ether

Light ether


Life ether

In the case of the vine, each force contributes to a specific aspect: 

  • The life ether is involved in the first stage of matter formation development, i.e. the formation of buds, shoots, and leaves. It therefore directly influences the grape yield. 
  • The light ether favours the formation of vine defence mechanisms against pathogens and harmful insects, as well as against climatic events such as frost, hail, droughts, etc. It also favours the formation of the leaf canopy. 
  • The chemical ether favours reproduction or, in other words, the first stages of grape bunch and seed development. 
  • The heat ether acts directly on the formation of taste, aroma, and nutrients, and is fundamental for grape quality. 

Our main purpose is to achieve harmony in wine, and this is only possible through a balanced interaction of all four etheric formative forces.
As winemakers, we thus try to maintain the balance among these rhythmic forces, trying to control any deviations of the polarity of ethers in contrast.

A couple of practical examples may help us understand this rationale:

A strong life ether opposed to a weak light ether leads to an increase in the formation of nutrients and thus to thriving stalks and large grape berries, which are significantly more vulnerable to fungi attacks. 
The conventional winemaker intensifies treatments with higher doses of phytosanitary products. 
Instead, the biodynamic winemaker strengthens the light ether in the vineyard at the right time by spraying horn silica (preparation 501) to compensate for the imbalance and restore harmony between the two forces. 

A predominance of the chemical ether over the heat ether causes an increase in water inside the grape berry, consequently reducing flavour and diluting the aroma of grapes and wine. 
If some winemakers may rejoice for the higher output, our goal remains instead that of collecting grapes that feature an exceptional depth of aroma when they have reached optimal ripeness. 
To restore the balance in favour of the heat ether, treatment with valerian or chamomile is applied during three favourable fruit days to stimulate the process of maturation. 

Rhythm carries life

The four etheric formative forces act in a rhythmic manner.
Our daily job is mainly determined by the perpetual alternation of day and night, of the seasons, and of the moon phases.

Back in 1918, Steiner said at a conference: “The growth of one leaf after the other in plants is rhythmic; the arrangement of petals in flowers is rhythmic; all arrangements are rhythmic. The onset of fever in a disease that is then mitigated is rhythmic; our whole of life is rhythmic.
The permeation of natural rhythms, this will be the true science.” 

To approach the essence of these rhythms, the first step is to understand how they manifest themselves.
Rhythm always occurs within a field of tension between polarities and acts as a mediator and connector. It is constantly characterised by the ability of flexible adaptation, which is the main aspect that differentiates it from the time (pace) of technique, which is rigid, or dead.

To this regard, Walther Bühler (1978) commented: “Without the mediation of rhythm, the idea of the whole, which almost always emerges from the contrasts it is anchored to, cannot manifest itself fully”.

Rhythm therefore becomes a common thread between essence and appearance, between Earth and Cosmos, between mind and matter. Rhythms can thus be perceived in three different ways: “In polarity and balance, in constant renewal, and in flexible adaptation” (Zeit und Rhythmus, Wilhelm Hoerner, 1978).

The position of the vineyard

The landscape influences the plants that grow on it with specific and clear effects.

Each vineyard includes different etheric forms with different forces, which are determined by geological conditions, slope grade, range direction, elevation, and macro-, meso-, and micro-climatic conditions.
This leads to the formation of different phenotypes, varying outputs, a particular fruit formation, and specific compositions of aromas. 

Evaluating the position thus provides the opportunity to create a harmonious environment for vines, even before planting the vineyard, through adequate preparatory interventions.

The elements and the influence of planets

The four elements - fire, light, water, and earth - are the physical manifestations of the etheric forces. They can have different effects on the vines and characterise their phenotype form depending on the position of the vineyard.
The following is a classification of the four elements and of the etheric forces acting within them:


Etheric forces

Plant organs


Heat ether



Light ether



Chemical ether



Life ether


Every year, Maria Thun publishes a lunar calendar that indicates the passage of the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun in front of the constellations of the Zodiac during the year.
The passage - or position - of supersolar and subsolar planets is also considered, in order to identify the conjunctions that occur on a given day and, consequently, the forces that act on plant growth at a given time. 

Over long years of research, Maria Thun studied the influence of the Zodiac on plant growth and observed which plant organs develop better under the influence of the different planets.
She was ultimately able to observe that some constellations influence plant growth, phenotype, and characteristics, with a particularly evident action on the development of the roots and vitality of the plant (the vine, in this case) and on the resistance to pathogens and to the influence of adverse climatic conditions. 

The polarity between earthly and cosmic forces forms through the influence of the different planets in our solar system.
In this setting, Steiner mentions Jupiter and Saturn among the supersolar planets, and the Moon among the subsolar planets. Mars, Mercury, and Venus are indicated for both areas, and are thus defined mutable.

Supersolar planets provide the etheric forces of light (Jupiter) and heat (Saturn).
The influence of Saturn on the vine, which is especially effective with fairly high temperatures, favours the apex, i.e. the longitudinal growth in height.
The forces of Jupiter need clear, sunny days, and enhance the defence mechanisms of the vine. 

Subsolar planets, on the other hand, favour the chemical ether and the life ether, through which they influence the flora and the fauna.

The Moon

The Moon has always had a particular meaning for work carried out in - and with - nature.
Its phases have always been observed in agriculture and silviculture for the purposes of identifying the most favourable time to perform different types of work on the land. The deeply-rooted experience and repeated and repeatable results have led this good practice - which is applied to sowing and planting through specific cultural interventions, and even to the cutting and collection of wood - to be passed on to many generations.. 

The Moon is the only planet that passes in front of the constellations of the Zodiac, exclusively in the subsolar zone. 
Combined with the chemical ether, it favours the reproductive forces and has a vitalising effect on vines, fruit trees, and on the development of the leaf canopy in the vineyard. 
The influence of its action is progressive, so that its vitalising force increases gradually, from new moon to full moon. 
However, it can also increase vine vulnerability to attacks of fungi such as downy mildew or powdery mildew. During full moon, the danger of infection is greater, so prophylaxis shortly before full moon is most effective.
When the Moon is waning, on the other hand, it develops devitalising forces. 

As a mediator of the forces that are present in the planetary space, the Moon has a significant role in our daily work because, depending on the position of the other planets, it increases or reduces their shaping influence on life. 
The Moon completes its passage in front of all the constellations of the Zodiac (sidereal Moon) in 17.32 days, while 29.53 days pass between two full moons. This difference is already enough for the Moon to produce different rhythms that activate their relevant forces in different ways, for example by stimulating leaf formation through the sunlight reflected by the full moon.

The mutable planets

Throughout their orbit, Mars, Venus and Mercury change their position between the subsolar zone and supersolar zone. 

Paired with the chemical ether, Mars influences especially the formation of matter, and thus favours leaf growth. 
Venus and Mercury deserve particular attention from the winemaker, as they both influence the processes that lead to quality.
Paired with the light ether, Venus favours fruit formation and influences the quality and quantity of polyphenols, with a positive action on wine and grape longevity.
Mercury, which revolves around the sun approximately three times in a year, is paired with the heat ether, and thus influences the processes that lead to the formation of aromas and grape maturation.

We are therefore able to assign the correct elements and ethers active within them to each specific day of the year. The resulting calendar is of precious help in carrying out our daily work in the vineyards and in the cellar on the appropriate days, in accordance with the universal rhythm of nature.

The practice: treatments with preparations and farming interventions

A prompt treatment of the vines increases plant resistance to attacks from fungi and parasites, and stimulates the shaping forces. 
Considering that certain parasites appear and proliferate in a rhythmic manner, they need to be weakened during the most critical stage of their development with organic and biodynamic substances. At the same time, the vine needs to be strengthened. 
The main tools available for biodynamic viticulture are preparations, among which horn manure (500) and horn silica (501) have a decisive role. 
The main reasons for their use are:

  • Ground health 
  • Improved ground fertility 
  • Production of top-quality grapes
  • Increased resistance of cultivated vines

Increased resistance of cultivated vines:

Biodynamic preparation

Type of ether

Therapeutic use

Horn manure (500) 

Life ether

Favours the vegetative development of the plant and the growth of roots and buds / strengthens weakened etheric structures

Oak bark (505)

Chemical ether

Used for prophylaxis against plant diseases

Chamomile (503)

Heat ether

Favours the delicate formation / interacts with calcium 

Yarrow (502)

Light ether

Has an “extraordinary irradiating force” and a “vitalising and refreshing” effect

Nettle (504)

Chemical ether

Favours the formation of humus / regulates iron irradiation in the plant 

Dandelion (506)

Light ether

Regulates the interaction between silica and potassium in the soil / favours the upward growth of the plant 

Valerian (507)

Heat ether

Protects against the cold: it is used preventively against frost-related damage / enhances the plant maturation process during rainy years

Horn silica (501)

Light ether

Increases immune defence, especially against fungi attacks / favours the interaction with the forces of light

Source: Jörgen Beckmann, Die Methode der Pflanzenregeneration von Martin und Georg W. Schmidt

Preparations in our experience

500 Horn manure

  • Increased microbiological activity in the ground;
  • Strong increase in the activity of fauna;
  • Improved root development;
  • Rapid improvement of the porosity of heavy types of ground;
  • Increased humus formation and water-retention ground capacity; 
  • More vital vines and balanced growth;
  • No differences have been observed in terms of treatment effects on different types of ground;

Horn silica

  • Increased plant resistance;
  • Improved maturation;
  • Increased longitudinal growth; 
  • Treatment with silica should always be associated with light soil turning, e.g. hoeing, which increases the action of the forces of the Zodiac, i.e. forces coming from the deep cosmos;
  • The choice of the time for treatment influences the formation of matter in the plant as well as its resistance.

A balance between silica and potassium is necessary, which is why the two preparations should always be considered in connection with each other.
A treatment with horn manure lays the foundations for the effectiveness of the silica-based preparation: it is only together that these two preparations can have a harmonising effect on the vine. 
On the other hand, other biodynamic preparations are particularly effective on the compost with which we fertilise our land.
Paramount to our work, a good compost revitalises the soil, that is, it significantly favours a soft structure and enriches the humus and humic substances available in the long term. 
Furthermore, compost supplies a precious source of food for various organisms, such as earthworms, which create a widespread network of capillaries in the ground, contributing to soil turning, to a correct air/water ratio, and ultimately to the creation of a perfectly balanced environment for vine root development.
Every year, we produce new compost with grape stems and pomace, Biochar and cow manure. Subsequently, it is enriched using different biodynamic preparations depending on the effect we seek:

Achillea millefolia (Venus)

  • In biological processes, yarrow (Achillea millefolia) acts on any weaknesses present in the astral sphere, restoring its balance;
  • The use of yarrow is important both in biodynamic agriculture and as an organic treatment;
  • The yarrow preparation influences potassium supply in different ways;
  • Preparation 502 is typically added to manure or, more rarely, to horn silica.

Chamomilla (Mercury)

  • Chamomile improves the action of calcium through (extremely small amounts of) sulphur, favouring the formation of both ground and plant structures.;
  • Preparation 503, which is normally added to a fertiliser, increases resistance to plant malformations.

Urtica dioica (Sun)

  • Preparation 504 with nettle favours process individualisation in specific habitats, activates the mobilisation of nutrients and creates order;
  • Added to fertilisers, it improves ground structure and extracts excess nitrogen and iron;
  • In the form of an infusion obtained through long maceration, nettle keeps aphids and mites away from plants.

Quercus robur (Mars)

  • Oak-based preparation 505 acts as a harmoniser in proliferation processes (such as, for example, fungal attacks from downy mildew and powdery mildew) and between shaping and organising forces, essentially improving vine health;
  • Oak is rich in calcium and tannins, which act as insecticides.

Taraxacum (Jupiter)

  • Preparation 506 with dandelion has a binding action between organic processes and their cosmic origin;
  • Dandelion seeds are composed of cells containing silica, which make this plant a sensory organ for light.

Valeriana officinalis (Saturn)

  • Preparation 507 is added to horn manure and silica preparations when disruptive external influences, such as hail or sudden mite attacks, arise;
  • Valerian flowers, which are of course picked on flower day, are prepared in an infusion with a ratio of approximately 0.5-1 kg/ha and are then left to macerate for 1 hour;
  • In case the vines get damaged, a few drops of infusion are added to the treatment 20 minutes before the end of the dynamization process.

Teas, decoctions, extracts: our phytosanitary products

We also use phytosanitary products, which need to be applied at the right time. Phytosanitary products mainly consist of teas, decoctions, and extracts.
Below are some examples:

Achillea millefolia
  • Yarrow improves the transport of absorbed substances through an increased photosynthesis.
    That is why an infusion of yarrow is added multiple times to pre-flowering treatments and to the first treatments applied after flowering;
  • 50 g/ha of dried product are prepared in an infusion that boils for 30 minutes before being left to macerate;
  • The yarrow infusion supplies the plant with potassium and stimulates processes related to it. For example, through osmotic pressure and cell turgor, potassium influences the water balance of the plant, increasing water use efficiency by up to 30%;
  • Potassium is also effective on cell division and plant growth, acting synergistically with plant hormones like gibberellin, cytokinin, and indolic acid to stimulate germination and cell division and extension, as well as root and shoot growth.

Equisetum arvense

  • Horsetail acts as a fungicide.
  • It is used in the form of an infusion that is prepared a few days before treatment. Normally, 200 g of horsetail are used for 30 L of boiling water.
  • The infusion is diluted in a proportion of 10 L to 500 L of water.

Salix caprea, Salix viminalis, Salix triandra

  • We use willow (common osier) to tie the vines.
  • It is high in salicylic acid and may be more effective during leaf/water days. 
  • It is used particularly to contrast downy mildew, so as to reduce the use of copper. 
  • It can be sprayed together with the nettle infusion. 
  • To use it as an organic treatment, approximately 250 g/ha of dried willow are boiled in hot water (not over 80°C) for around 30 minutes. 

Inula viscosa

  • An inula decoction, which is effective against powdery mildew, is added to the treatment after flowering. 
  • It contains many etheric oils, such as helenins, alantolactones, and other sesquiterpenic lactones.
  • It is effective against bacteria, fungi and worms, in both human beings and plants.
  • At the moment, its use is also being studied and experimented as an alternative to copper in organic agriculture. 
  • The roots and leaves of the plant are used. Everything is added to cold water, which is heated up until boiling point and is then removed from the fire. The infusion is then left to macerate for approximately 1 hour.

In our opinion, working together with nature as described here and in the long term is the only way to harvest grapes of genuine quality – the fundamental raw material to obtain excellent wines.