Philosophy

Originally, the concept of organic farming—as it is defined today—stems from a general dismissal of all the habits and failings which have made us forget the responsibility that life bestows upon us as citizens of the earth.

There is no need to dwell here on the arrogance with which, since the 20th-century post-war years, we have imposed chemical and intensive agriculture on ourselves as the only possible model. We must have been short-sighted to accept a system all at once pyramidal and general, based on an unlimited use of the soil, a rampant material growth, the diktat of yields—all of which were pushed to extremes and gradually destroyed our ecosystems.

Currently, pesticides are everywhere: in surface water, groundwater, rainwater, fog, air, food, and, ultimately, the human body. Consequently, for those of us who use these resources, there has been an increase in the number of rare cancers or degenerative neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s—not to mention an admitted decline in cognitive performance.

All these elements are unfortunately missing a true overall and prospective study whose statistical power would give pause to eco-skeptics. Even more so since epidemiology studies related to pesticides show that public health problems affect not only users of these products but also the general population, exposing even further those of us who consume even small amounts of these pesticides in our diet.

However, organic farming is not a step backwards; on the contrary, it requires combining harmoniously the positive achievements of modernity with the positive legacy from innovations and experiments of centuries of tradition.

Beyond everything that we have written so far, to convert to organic or even biodynamic farming is essentially to adhere to a genuine philosophy, to the desire to build a new paradigm.

One can actually wonder, as philosopher Pierre Hadot does, if the soil—owned and controlled, cultivated and exploited, domesticated and subject to our Promethean genius—would not require us to adopt a more Orphic attitude, more friendly and contemplative, more playful and confident. We know how to define power but we do not know how to imagine frailty, yet it is urgent to learn how to do so, for the global, network-like system of the earth, like any unit system based on a single law, can be suddenly destroyed.

The philosophy that links us must be transformative of life by redefining the place of man in the universe. It is not enough to consider the state of the world that we will pass on to our children—we should also wonder about the mental health of the children to whom we entrust this planet. Selfishness must give way to a normative ethics of virtue, distinguishing the "common good" from the "common goods" by understanding natural law. The winemaker is the owner of the vines, not of the space in which they thrive. The vineyard as a collective heritage determines the status of vines as common goods, and yet the water, the air, the ozone layer, genetics, and ideas are all beyond the idea of ownership. This passage from what is essentially material to what is truly spiritual is substantial to the very theory of the common good.

Having forgotten that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, we gave birth to all sorts of speculative excesses, and we gradually drifted away from the obvious: the vine was present prior to the existence of the petrochemical industry. Winemakers have subjected themselves to the law of pesticides as individuals. We must emerge from this as people, that is to say thanks to what characterises us as people—reason and will.

The last eco-skeptics still standing must reconcile with the idea that organic farming is the only alternative to this poisoning we have suffered from for decades. There is neither mysticism nor occultism in the way it works; on the contrary, organic or biodynamic culture is an epistemological approach in the original sense of the word, a theory of knowledge as a whole and not limited to scientific knowledge.

In conclusion, if it is possible to conclude on the subject, it is important to emphasise that the point is not to oppose two types of viticulture, one of which would be good and the other not. Decisions in terms of farming choices are multifactorial and specific to each farmer. We are simply saying that the world of organic and biodynamic farming, as we have been living it for 10 years now, has placed us back at the core of our winegrowing craft and that it has turned the anonymous hours of astronomical time of plant transformation into joyful hours spent together.