A report on biodynamic viticulture from the tiny winery which is tucked into a hillside outside Siena, Italy.

Dante Lomazzi and Helena Variara, Colombaia’s owners say “You have days of fire, air and days of earth – the twelve constellations are our helpers. Our work is to enter the rhythm of the planets”.

Technically speaking, Ms Variaia’s work is also to make wine. “We work the soil on earth days. We work the leaves on water days. The sugar in the grapes grows when the moon grows so we only harvest after a full moon. And the water days are also the best days for eating salad!”

The winemaking method seems unorthodox but their method, better known as biodynamic winemaking is becoming more and more prominent among a small cohort of Italian winemakers.

This method follows an ethos composed in the mind of the Austrian Philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the early 1920s and the tenets are fairly simple: There can be no synthetic chemicals or mechanical irrigation.

A true biodynamic farm must also grow a variety of fruits and vegetables and there have to be animals, either domestic or wild to keep this miniature ecosystem in check.

Biodynamic winemaking also mandates that the farmer adhere to a specific celestial calendar.

Put simply, biodynamic viticulture is a philosophy combining the maintenance of sustainable soil fertility and the recognition of the link between plant growth and the rhythms of the cosmos.

Excerpts from The New York Times International Edition / TRAVEL. Danielle Pergament. October 28. 2016