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Beckmen Vineyards, California – Tom and Steve Beckmen

April 6, 2012

From Steve Beckmen – Winegrower

Why do you do what you do?  While I love the positive environmental aspects of farming biodynamically, quality is the reason behind everything we do. Because quality and consistency are so important, we did years of trials, testing the efficacy of biodynamics on specific blocks of Purisima Mountain Vineyard before we committed our entire property. Time and again we saw great results—the vines grew straight up, the leaves were healthy and rich in color, and the soils retained more moisture. We also saw an increase in sugar and tannin quality. With these results, we began a fully dedicated program of biodynamic farming at Purisima Mountain Vineyard in 2006, and received our certification through Demeter USA in 2009.

How do you do it?  We began experimenting with biodynamic farming because we thought it could improve quality. We were very methodical in testing it, and very exacting in how we evaluated the results. Once you know that it works, it is easy to commit yourself fully—but you do have to commit yourself. I was much more focused on winemaking when we first began farming biodynamically, but the more Purisima Mountain Vineyard has matured into an exceptional site, the more I’ve realized the vineyard is where my work as a winemaker needs to be. I’m in the vineyard every day.

What obstacles have you overcome?  It takes a while to understand the power and strength of the process, so that you don’t go overboard and over-farm parts of your vineyard. Once you become more sensitive to the impact of the practices, you can utilize them with more finesse and refinement in different parts of the vineyard. Like anything worthwhile, you learn, grow, adapt and gain a deeper understanding over time.

What disasters have you survived?  Since we started farming biodynamically we haven’t experienced any disasters. I think people expect them, but if anything it is exactly the opposite—our vineyard is healthy and strong and more capable of weathering whatever comes its way. As an example, when you grow on hillsides, you can have issues with unevenness in growth, vigor and ripening. We have overcome a lot of that, and nowadays it is more like we are farming on flat valley floor ground in terms of evenness and ripening time.

Are you happy with your work?  Yes. I love it.

Is it worth the effort? Our goal is to always get better and better. Biodynamics allows us to achieve the purest possible expression of our Purisima Mountain Vineyard terroir, which is at the very heart of our winegrowing philosophy. Farming in this way also accentuates the diversity of our vineyard, which is another key element to our winemaking approach. Since we’ve gone biodynamic, we are producing our best wines ever.






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