Philippe Armenier is considered to be one of the foremost practitioners of Biodynamic farming in the world. Based upon the writings of Rudolph Steiner, who is best known in this country as the philosphical founder of the Waldorf Schools, Biodynamic agriculture is a whole farm approach that combines intense natural practices commonly found in organic farming along with the addition of unique preparations intended to stimulate plant and biological life as well as to bring the farm into balance with the natural rhythms of the earth, the sun, the moon, and the other planets. “Biodynamic agriculture is a way of living, working and relating to nature and the vocations of agriculture based on good common-sense practices, a consciousness of the uniqueness of each landscape, and the inner development of each and every practitioner.” (quoted from the website of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association).
Philippe’s education in winegrowing came at the feet of his father, Elie Armenier at his family’s vineyard and winery in Chateauneuf du Pape, Domaine deMarcoux. Philippe began sharing vineyard management and winemaking responsibilities with his father in 1973 and took over in 1980 upon his father’s passing. Dissatisfied with the results of decades of chemical farming which had robbed the soil of its life, Philippe looked for alternatives. His wife, pianist Brigitte Armenier, gave him a copy of Steiner’s Agriculture Course, a series of lectures given by Steiner to a group of farmers at Schloss Koberwitz in Germany. Like Philippe, they had discovered their soils and crops to be failing after years of chemical farming. Philippe decided to convert his vineyards to Biodynamic practices beginning in the late 1980s. The results were obvious in the vineyard, where the soils sprung to life, as well as in the winery. The estate and the wines it produced rose dramatically in stature over the coming decade and now Domaine de Marcoux is consistently considered one of the best wine producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Eager to spend more time studying and teaching others about Biodynamic farming, Philippe, Brigitte, and their children left France for the United States in 2001. He has built a thriving consulting practice and now advises dozens of growers like us in this unique approach to farming. His clients represent a whose who of the top growers and wineries in the country. Philippe started working with Winderlea in April of 2009.