BioDynamic Burgundy

Richard McGeachy continues to relate his travels through France...

Unknown spray drift - what is it?

As I was leaving the town of Beaune in Burgundy I noticed this dense white cloud emanating from a vineyard. I pulled over in a headland and walked back down the road to find out what was happening. There didn’t appear to be anything wrong with the equipment and nothing was burning – so I waited for the driver to get to the end of the row.

Burgundian engineering.
After a brief conversation with the driver (his English was vastly better than my French!) it turned out this block was being run biodynamically and he was spraying bentonite for botrytis protection. It had been raining fairly consistently for about a week up to this point (September 10th) and the fruit was just becoming edible (9-10 Baume). The rain had been falling in the equivalent of the first week of March for McLaren Vale. I didn’t walk through his vineyard to check how much, if any, botrytis was present.

Botrytis infection in Pinot Noir.

However I was able to walk through another biodynamic block early that week and it took very little effort to discover bunches with levels of infection as shown – at least one like this per panel. The grower was not concerned (outwardly anyway) as the block was being handpicked; given that vintage was at least 2 weeks away I would have been more than a little worried!

Powdery mildew.

It was also reasonably easy to find severe powdery mildew infections on bunches in this same block. The powdery appeared to be predominantly isolated to second crop and the upper leaf. Second crop was widespread in Burgundy due to the amount of trimming carried out during the season.


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