Mindful Winemaking

Covering topics like organic, sustainable, biodynamic and natural winemaking, we have launched a new one-day Mindful Winemaking training course. Designed to help you navigate the minefield of these winemaking approaches, this new course will give an in-depth understanding of each area while also covering how to best convey these concepts to your customers.


Now, more than ever, consumers are considering the impact of their choices and actions; whether it’s on their own wellbeing, on future generations’, or the planet at large. As a result, there’s been a huge shift in consumer mindset, demonstrated by the rising popularity of veganism, the global battle to reduce plastic, and an increasing interest in the practice of mindfulness. It was only a matter of time before consumers turned their attention to the drinks they consume.


While the majority of wines today are made using conventional methods, there are a small (and ever growing) number of producers who are taking a more holistic approach to the winemaking process. At Walker & Wodehouse we like to refer to these various schools of winemaking, which include the likes of sustainable, organic, biodynamic, low intervention, natural, Fairtrade and vegan, as mindful winemaking.


Stepping back in time


But this is nothing new. In fact, it’s an idea that dates back centuries, to a time when winemakers considered themselves farmers and custodians of the land. Fast forward to the mid-20th century and these traditional forms of agriculture had almost been driven to the point of extinction through seismic shifts in society.


The first big change was witnessed at the end of the 19th century, after the industrial revolution, when people became distanced from working the land by the introduction of machinery. Then after World War II, we saw the development of conventional agriculture as we know it today, with the invention and usage of herbicides and pesticides, and the industrial scale of agriculture required to meet increased demand.


However, a movement is slowly emerging that captures all the lost knowledge and traditions of sustainable, organic, biodynamic and natural wines. Gabriele Dalcanale, owner of La Dama in Valpolicella, says, “I make organic wines not just for the wine, but for me, my family, our workers and our health. We are in the vineyard everyday and we don’t want to be surrounded by chemicals.”


Georg Meissner, head winemaker and biodynamic consultant at Alois Lageder in Alto Adige, says, “30-40% of climate change is because of agriculture and the drive to over produce… A farmer is therefore not only responsible for one plot of land, but is socially and ethically responsible for their contributions to the world.”


Getting to grips with mindful winemaking


Julia Bailey, head of customer training, says, “The challenge we have as an industry is that these philosophies can be challenging for consumers to understand, with a myriad of labelling terms and different certification bodies, each with their own intricacies of legislation.


“While many may dismiss approaches like biodynamics as ‘voodoo witchcraft’, we think it’s about time that people really got under the skin of these approaches and fully understood them. That’s why we have designed a course dedicated solely to these approaches. Ultimately, we believe that staff in the trade should not only feel confident talking about these wines, but they should be using their knowledge to actively shape their guests’ drinking habits.”


Our new one-day Mindful Winemaking training course is designed to help staff navigate these winemaking philosophies, giving an in-depth understanding of each area, while covering how to best convey these concepts to consumers.


Course outline


– Conventional, sustainable, organic and biodynamic practices in the vineyard

– Conventional, sustainable, organic, biodynamic and natural winemaking practices in the winery

– Wine faults: is natural wine faulty or funky?

– Are mindful wines more expensive and, if so, are they worth it? An understanding of quality and price

– Identifying and interpreting labelling terms associated with these philosophies

– Selling mindful wines: understanding and influencing consumer perceptions.


Get involved


The first course took place on 24 October at our head office in Primrose Hill. Dates for 2019 include: 30 January, 10 April, 7 August and 30 October.


Spaces are limited so please get in touch with the Training Team at trainingadmin@bibendum-wine.co.uk to secure your place.