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In Pictures: Niagara's Southbrook Vineyards, a step beyond organic

Winery is growing fast but has come up against a problem: a lack of organic manure to fertilize with

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Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier purchased land in Ontario’s Niagara region eight years ago with the intention of creating the country’s first certified biodynamic winery. A step above organic, biodynamic farming is a holistic method of agriculture with strict rules. As proprietor of Southbrook Vineyards, Mr. Redelmeier, left, must ensure that everything used to make his product, from manure to grapes to the glass used to bottle his wine, conforms to these standards. Here, he and longtime vineyard manager Scott Jones study a container of organic cow manure.

Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

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The bet on biodynamics appears to be paying off: Southbrook Vineyards now produces an award-winning product and has expanded its annual output to an expected 15,000 crates by the end of this year, up from 6,000 in 2008. But Mr. Redelmeier has had to start turning down orders. The problem, he says, is that he can’t acquire enough organic input – manure, mostly – to grow beyond his current numbers. There simply aren’t enough local organic suppliers to meet his needs.

Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

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The winery sprays its vines with a natural fertilizing liquid made from herbal teas such as chamomile, pictured here, and nettle leaf, shave grass and diluted manure.

Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

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Sheep roam the vineyards, providing organic manure for the gravevines.

Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

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Bottles display the organic components used by Southbrook Vineyards to make wine. Manure, for instance, is not all created equal. To qualify as organic, the animals that provide the manure must be pharmaceutical and steroid-free, consume an organic-based diet, and live in conditions that afford them a fuller range of motion.

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Vineyard manager Scott Jones holds a bottle of Southbrook wine and a bottle of the organic cow manure used to produce the wine.

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Windmills are used to prevent frost on the vines at Southbrook Vineyards.

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Upwards of a million bees share the vineyards with the grapesvines at Southbrook Vineyards.

Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

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