Visual Tour of Biodynamics at Littorai Wines

Integrated Agriculture Thinking at Littorai Wines
Do you associate organic and biodynamic viticulture with manure filled cow horns, voodoo, and musty smelling wines? Better think again, some of the top wineries around the world have embraced these approaches. Not because they believe in voodoo, because they have tested the approach and liked the results.

A great way to dig deeper into biodynamics is to find a tour at a vineyard practicing these techniques. By all accounts, Ted Lemon at Littorai Wines is producing highly regarded, elegant wines in Sonoma and Anderson Valley. A visit to the winery can give you a personal view of what these techniques look like in practice. It doesn’t look that much different from other wineries you have visited until you look a little closer.

The Littorai winery and Pivot vineyard

The Littorai winery looks over the Pivot vineyard, the home estate vineyard. The property is 30 acres, with just 3 acres planted to vine with the remainder intentionally left as meadow and forest.

Alternatives to Conventional Farming
Ted came to alternative approaches after practicing conventional farming back in the 1990’s.  Today, all the properties owned or leased by Littorai are managed to at least an organic standard.  The estate vineyards are managed to an approach which, while not certified, is closely aligned with organic and biodynamic methods.

Biodynamic Farming Basic Principles
Biodynamics starts with organic farming, where the goal is soil health. This means no artificial fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides. Biodynamics goes further, with a goal of self-sustaining health of the entire farm. The ideal model is that of the forest, with a balance of plant and animal life. This approach encourages mixed use in every aspect of the farm, quite different from the typical monoculture of most of today’s typical farms and vineyards. The property at the Littorai winery totals 30 acres, with 3 acres planted to grapes. The remainder is left to meadow and forest. They have animals on the farm and encourage beneficial wildlife as well.

Activities are completed according to the phase of the moon. While this seems odd to our modern brains, farmers have used moon phases to guide operations for centuries, until the start of modern chemical based agriculture. Think: Farmer’s Almanac.

Key Things You’ll See

  • Compost piles
  • Bird houses, bat houses
  • Livestock such as chickens, sheep, goats, cattle
  • Herb gardens with a variety of plants
  • Biodynamic preparations at various times of the year
  • Awareness and use of the moon’s phase to guide farming (and cellar) activities.

If you’re interested in learning more, there’s lots of good information available on the Demeter Association website here with useful faq’s here. Now, take a visual tour of Biodynamics in practice at Littorai. Make sure you continue reading after the tour! (click on any photo for a full size slide show, hit “escape” to return)

Disappointed that you didn’t see any manure filled cowhorns? Stay tuned for a coming post. Plenty of poop there!

Not taken at Littorai, I had more biodynamics 101 at the Wine Bloggers Conference. Post coming soon!

Organic & Biodynamic Wine Tasting

See For Yourself
You can see the estate yourself, Littorai hosts a variety of tours and tastings. The extensive tour pictured here is the Goldridge Estate Tour and Tasting. The current fee is $60, and includes the complete tour you see here, plus a nice tasting of Littorai Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. When you visit Sonoma, make an appointment and try the wines!

Take a biodynamic vineyard tour at Littorai Wines at

6 Responses to “Visual Tour of Biodynamics at Littorai Wines”
  1. Lynn says:

    What a treat your visit was Jeff! In addition to the tea and herbal mixtures, doing things by the phase of the moon is fascinating to me. Was recently at a bio winery in Saussignac who heavily used moon phase to determine when things are done. Hope to visit Littorai one day!

  2. Noshots of Pierre the randy ram???? 😉

  3. Very enjoyable read, on a subject that can sometimes seem so esoteric or “out there.” You’ve brought it down to earth (pun intended!)

  4. I’ve toured biodynamic vineyards in Italy and Spain. Yes to manure filled horns, but no voodoo or musty smelling wines. I find biodynamics fascinating. And like all other wines, some turn out good while others not so much. Thanks for highlighting Littorai wines.

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