Displaying items by tag: Biodynamic Agriculture
Biodynamics is a method of farming based in a holistic way of understanding the relationships within Nature. The sphere of life on Earth in its mineral, plant and animal diversity, in seen as a whole and connected to the larger context of the rythms and forces present in the Cosmos.
As a general principle it is emphasised that each farm should be understood as a self-sustained system, to be created out of its own bio-diversity, in a harmony between soil, plants, animals and human activity.
It is a method of farming that has much in common with other organic approaches, such as emphasizing the use of manures andcomposts and excluding of the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants.
Most of our practices are in fact the same as in organic, such as the use of cover crops with plants that are vine friendly. Some of these plants are sown for specific purposes, such as water retention, structuring or aerating the soils, and Nitrogen fixation. At the same time they help to keep the soil alive, and allow for colonies of micro organisms to develop around their roots, which will in turn perform mineral exchanges with the vine roots.
Differences lie in special practices that are specific to Biodynamics, such as the use of homeopathy (biodynamic preparations), and the Astronomic calendar - a guide to performing agricultural operations according to planetary rhythms.
The biodynamic preparations are divided into 3 main groups: the compost preparations, consisting of 6 specially composted plants that are homeopathically inoculated into the compost heap; the 500 (composted cow manure), which is applied over all the property to activate the life of the soil; and the 501 (quartz powder), which is applied to the vines in order to activate vegetative processes with influence in growth, maturation, natural defences and ultimately the taste.
In our properties, besides applying the biodynamic preparations, we have been experimenting and developing other treatments based on natural plant extracts, to be applied as bio-stimulants or help us control plant diseases. It is the case of plant decoctions and macerations, hydro-alcoholic extracts (made with our own brandy), and essential oils.

In the cellar, we follow the same philosophy as in the vines, excluding chemical treatments, relying on natural processes, and making a minimal use of soft mechanic operations. Maceration and fermentation for the reds is always made with foot treading in our ancient granite tanks (lagares). We only use indigenous yeasts, and follow as far as possible the best moments for cellar operations (harvesting, bottling, filtering) according to the astronomic calendar. We make a soft filtration just before bottling, and add minimum sulphite quantities (average 50mg/litre for reds, 70 mg/litre for whites) for preserving the wines.

Quinta do Casal do Paço

“A place of power”. Such were the words used by a smiling German visitor, who allowed himself to lag behind his group on the way to the bus, in order to enjoy some moments of quiet intimacy with the Quinta.
Casal do Paço, in Vasco Croft’s since the 17th century, has the soul of an old Quinta, and was the starting point of Aphros project. It spreads over nearly 20 hectares of land and forests, four of which are vines and another four of chestnuts orchards. At its centre stands a granite 16th century 2-storey manor house complete with chapel. The wine cellar on the first floor dates back to the origin of the house.
In October of 2006, the first biodynamic process was implemented marking the beginnings of something that would transform both the farm and its wines.
Casal do Paço is now recognized as a model ecological winery committed to the preservation of its ecosystems that not only include the vines but entire forests of acacias, oaks, eucalyptus and century-old trees, the home of wild boars, foxes and eagles.


Quinta do Espadanal

Quinta do Espadanal is only a few meters away from Casal do Paço, from which it has been separated by a public road. In fact, although the 2 Quintas formed a unity for centuries, each has an individuality of its own. Espadanal is set in an isolated site,  higher towards the mountains, and is completely surrounded by forests. It is also a very old Quinta, as testified by the existing remains of a pre-roman site and by the ruins of a very old traditional rural house (16th century). Fully restructured in 2007, it has just 1 Ha of vines (Loureiro), probably the plot of highest quality of all our Quintas, 3 HA of chestnut orchards, and around 2 HA of forest.
Quinta de Casa Nova

Located in the neighboring parish of Refoios, near Ponte de Lima, Casa Nova is a Quinta we have decided to buy when it became clear we needed to increase our production for a self sustained operation. It is a beautiful southfacing and gently sloping property, with around 7Ha of vines in only 2 plots, and has a group of granit houses at its centre, around a central patio covered by vines. This property was fully  restructured by us in 2009, when all the vines were replanted according to biodynamic principles. In the near future, we plan to have our main cellar here, as well as a wine bar, to be installed in one of the existing buildings.

Quinta de Valflores

Valflores Quinta is located right above Casa Nova, and belongs to the Bossert family, fro Oregon, USA, with which we agreed to have a long term lease. With 3 Ha of existing vines, in an almost abandoned condition, this property was restructred right after Casa Nova. The old vines were recovered, and 2,5 Ha of new vines planted. There is the curiosity that the parents of the actual owners were friends of the famous Oregon Pinot Noir producer David Lett, who once came to visit them bringing a few shoots of his vines. They are still there, scattered among the Loureiro. In order to preserve such an unusual event in the story of this Quinta, we have decided to plant 0,5 Ha of Pinot, using shoots of the existing vines, from which an Aphros Pinot will one day be born in the future.