Demeter International is a global organization founded in 1928, named after the Greek goddess of agriculture. The organization’s mission is to promote Biodynamic farming and certify Biodynamic farms. Demeter is the world’s oldest ecological certification organization, operating in fifty countries.
In 1928 it was registered as a trademark and run by Erhard Bartsch, a German agronomist. He was very involved in the movement and also ran the Experimental Circle of anthroposophical (biodynamic) farmers. He, along with German chemist Franz Dreidax, chose the name Demeter. Dreidax oversaw the development of the Demeter criteria as well as quality control.
The name Demeter has become well-known around the world. In 1934 Melbourne, Ernesto Genoni and Ileen Macpherson, both members of the Experimental Circle, created Demeter Biological Farm and ran it for 20 years. In 1985, Demeter became a non-profit organization in the United States.
While all the organic certification requirements under the National Organic Program apply to Biodynamic certification, the Demeter standard is far more stringent, with stricter requirements for imported fertility, a greater emphasis on on-farm disease, pest, and weed control, and more detailed specifications for water conservation and biodiversity. Consumers are given an increased level of trust in the products.
Farmers and businesses are coming to believe that Biodynamic certification is all they need as customers develop a better awareness of Biodynamic standards and gain a greater level of experience with the quality of Biodynamic products.
When it comes to wines, the certification solidifies farmers’ compliance with the criteria, ensuring that consumers receive the best tasting and highest-quality wines. It is rewarded by charging a higher price for any food verified with the “Demeter” mark, which typically yields a 10%-30% price increase.
Despite generating only 1% of all wines produced in the United States, Oregon has 52% of the total vineyard acres that have achieved biodynamic certification from Demeter. According to their data, Oregon has 15 wineries that match their certification criteria, with another 30 claiming to follow biodynamic principles but are not formally accredited.
To put this figure in context, only 83 wineries in the United States have received Demeter USA’s biodynamic certification. The history and culture of sustainability in this state explain the high percentage of biodynamic-certified acres.