If you happen to visit Boisset's Raymond Vineyards in the Napa Valley, there you will find a two-acre educational exhibit that brings the Theater of Nature to life. This living exhibit illustrates how the different “actors” – the soil, the plants, the animals, the Vineyardist – each serve a crucial role and together bring synergy to the craft of quality, sustainable wine making.
The story of the Theater of Nature is explained in five acts. To learn more about the “actors” and the roles they play in the ecosystem of sustainable farming, click on the various acts below.
ACT I: The Soil
Healthy, nutrient-rich soil is at the heart of the Theater of Nature and the wine making process. Enriched with a series of preparations and field applications derived from the other “acts,” the soil helps promote plant health and fight disease. This nutrient-rich soil also supports plants that nourish the animals on organic and Biodynamic farms.
ACT II: Plants
Both organic and Biodynamic farming use techniques such as planting cover crops in the vineyards to attract beneficial insects, help conserve water and minimize the need for irrigation. The Theater of Nature also derives soil-enriching nutrients through the composting of plants and herbs. The deep root systems of plants such as yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion, and valerian pull nutrients and minerals from the soil into their flowers and leaves.
ACT III: Animals
Since only natural fertilizers are used in organic and Biodynamic farming, animal manure from cows, sheep, goats, and chickens is vital in the Theater of Nature. One way Biodynamic farming elevates manure to a higher level is to bury cow horns filled with manure in the soil to gather energy from the earth. These horns are later retrieved and the contents are mixed with water to create a tea, which is sprayed on the fields in spring to promote healthy, plant growth. Providing an attractive environment for the bees is also a key aspect of the self-sustaining farm because of the critical role these insects play in pollination. In addition, hawk perches are used to attract raptors to live in the vineyards to help limit vertebrate pests.
ACT IV: The Vineyardist
The role of the Vineyardist is to ensure that the other “actors” work together at the right place and at the right time. In the Vineyardist’s hands, every drop of water, plant, herb, animal, and insect serves a distinct purpose, which works in harmony with the soil and the Lunar Calendar to produce the highest quality grapes – and of course superior wine. The Vineyardist monitors the phases of the moon, as well as the relationship between the sun, moon, stars and planets. In addition, the Vineyardist tracks the moon’s path in relation to the 12 astrological constellations to determine when the vineyard will be planted, pruned, sprayed, and harvested.
ACT V: Wholeness
Through organic and Biodynamic farming, sustainability is achieved in the Theater of Nature. Essentially, the four actors – the soil, the plants, the animals, the Vineyardist – must all work together to create a whole, healthy, cohesive ecosystem. Each “actor” plays a key role in The Theater of Nature, but it is the “cast” as a whole that achieves the end goal of crafting quality wine.
Boisset Collection states its California wineries, Raymond Vineyards and DeLoach Vineyards, are 100 percent solar powered; and their estate vineyards in the Russian River Valley, Rutherford and St. Helena became certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers and certified biodynamic by Demeter USA.
Adherence to organic and biodynamic farming practices is a hallmark of Boisset properties worldwide, and Jean-Charles Boisset, proprietor of Raymond Vineyards, began implementing organic and biodynamic farming practices soon after purchasing the winery in August 2009.