Organic Wine Podcast
Brady Shepherd - Mortgage Banker for Vineyard Real Estate

Brady Shepherd - Mortgage Banker for Vineyard Real Estate

May 16, 2022

This episode is a bit unusual for this podcast. It’s about how to purchase real estate, and my guest is Rural Mortgage Banker for United Ag Lending, Brady Shepherd. I’m very grateful to Brady for the time he spent with me preparing for this episode, and I think you’ll find this episode packed with potentially life-changing ideas.

Why “life changing?” Because, for better or for worse, the US economy is founded on real estate. The laws and economic structure that guide our society were written by and for land-owners. And behind every glass of wine is a piece of land where it was grown that somebody or some entity owns.

Did you know that to buy real estate you don’t have to put 20% down? You might not have to put any cash down. Your credit doesn’t have to be perfect either. We talk about this and so much more.

A final disclaimer, nothing that I or Brady say on this episode is meant to be investment advice, and please talk to an accountant about your personal situation. Actually, talking to an accountant can be just as eye-opening as talking to a mortgage banker.

A big thanks to Brady, who, if you stay tuned, literally gives out his phone number for anyone who might need help getting a mortgage loan.

https://unitedaglending.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Bardos Cider - Gleaning Fruit From Abandoned Orchards

Bardos Cider - Gleaning Fruit From Abandoned Orchards

May 9, 2022

Colin Blackshear and Aaron Brown of Bardos Cider are my guests for this episode. This is their first podcast, and I’m honored to be able to spread the word about what the remarkable work they are doing. They have built Bardos Cider since 2019 to a significant production, of over 150 barrels, by gleaning fruit from abandoned, forgotten, and derelict old orchards from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

These trees have learned to survive only on the winter rains and despite human neglect, and this has made their fruit all the more exciting with age. Working with them has connected Aaron and Colin to the history of this land in some very meaningful and even spiritual ways. They clearly have a humility and respect for the wisdom of these elder beings, and through cider they have begun to realize a larger responsibility they have to protect and preserve these orchards.

So often wine and cider are produced from an egotistical standpoint. I decided I wanted to make a certain kind of wine or cider, so I found or planted vineyards or orchards to meet my specifications and invested my will and desires and resources into bringing my ego-vision to reality. When this is my approach, is the wine or cider that I end up with really a reflection of the terroir, or just my ego? Colin and Aaron of Bardos Cider remind me that there is another approach. I could instead look to work in service of what already is thriving without my ego, despite that it may not be what I thought I wanted or intended. I could work to highlight and preserve the beautiful work that was already being done before me, and that will continue on once I’m gone. Could this lead to a truer reflection of place? And if I applied this approach to my life more broadly, is this the kind of perspective that could lead to abundance?

https://www.bardoscider.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Gabriela Fontanesi - Vineyard Worker & Force of Nature

Gabriela Fontanesi - Vineyard Worker & Force of Nature

April 5, 2022

Recorded on, and released in honor of, Caesar Chavez Day.

My guest for this episode is Gabriela Fontanesi. Gabriela has one of the most unusual and unique paths into wine that I’ve ever encountered. Because of that, she brought questions and perspectives that have incredible power to transform the way you see and think about this industry and that led her on a journey of being a vineyard worker, and to Mexico where she recorded this interview, so that she could improve her Spanish and one day conduct wine tastings for Spanish-speaking farm workers here in California.

Some of the points she brings up include: the laws that surprisingly don’t apply to farm workers, and why that is; How our separation from farming is what allows for the exploitation of the people who do the farm work; the euro-centric nature of formal wine education; the troubling idea of objectivity in wine tasting and if it accounts for the treatment of those who grow the wine; and the opportunity that wine has to bring change because of the narratives it tells. And so much more.

Gabriela is a non-stop force of insight and this interview is packed with some of the most important ideas we can grapple with as an industry. If you get nothing else out of it, I hope you’ll be inspired by Gabriela to ask better, harder questions and to keep asking them regardless of where they take you.

Gabriela would like to give a shout out to two great organizations that she supports. The first is AHIVOY which provides mentoring & scholarships for vineyard stewards in Oregon. You can learn more at ahivoyoregon.org or @ahivoyoregon.

And the second organization is The Botanical Bus – a bilingual mobile herb clinic. You can find more at TheBotanicalBus.com or @botanical.bus

Gabriela can be contacted through her Instagram @gpfontanesi  

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Organic Sucks & Natural Wine Will Save The World

Organic Sucks & Natural Wine Will Save The World

March 15, 2022

It’s time for an end of the imperialistic colonial culture that we’ve all had plenty of by now. It’s time to recognize that there are indigenous grapes that grow best in every location on the lands of this earth, and they don’t need chemistry to survive because they evolved in those lands. And beyond that, great wine doesn’t have to be only about grapes. There are amazing fermented beverages from whatever is locally available in every corner of the globe, even those corners where grapes can’t grow.

In other words, free your palate and your mind will follow.

And you know what, say what you will about Natural Wine… it has freed an entire generation’s palate.

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Jack Sporer - Fres.co Wine and Magnolia Wine Services

Jack Sporer - Fres.co Wine and Magnolia Wine Services

March 8, 2022

Jack Sporer is the owner of Fres.co Wine and Magnolia Wine Services.

This interview is a great episode for a beginning winemaker thinking of starting their own brand and considering how to make that dream a reality. Because Jack is the owner of a custom crush winery facility. Unless you are independently wealthy or inherited a vineyard, you are likely going to start your winery in some sort of a co-op or shared winery space, and since that’s how I make our wine for my brand Centralas (whose wines, btw, are available for sale at CentralasWine.com the purchase of which supports this wonderful podcast) and since Jack owns one of these facilities, we dig into the pros and cons, the whys and the hows, and the hard questions you need to ask before choosing a facility. No, you don’t want to start making a wine at the nearest crush pad, unless it also stands up to some thorough evaluation.

Jack’s custom crush facility in Sonoma is also the home of his winery Fres.co, which he named Fresh Wine Company in an attempt to cause us to think about wine the way we think about produce, as a product that is grown.

Jack is deeply involved in regenerative agriculture, through both Fres.com and Magnolia, and he makes an incredibly important point about it. Basically, true regenerative agriculture implies working with degraded or poorly managed land, NOT pristine organically farmed vineyards. And that means that regenerative agriculture is about building bridges between farmers & winemakers with different and even opposing philosophies.

I love that Jake embodies true regenerative agriculture with both Fres.co and Magnolia, and I think he does that with very smart, empathetic, and trust-building interactions that set an amazing example that we can all learn from.

https://fresh.wine/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Darek Trowbridge - Old World Winery, Soil Carbon Management Co., & Pastoral Winemaking

Darek Trowbridge - Old World Winery, Soil Carbon Management Co., & Pastoral Winemaking

March 1, 2022

My guest for this episode is Darek Trowbridge. Darek is the mind and body behind Old World Winery. He refers to himself as a soil farmer rather than a grape farmer, and this earth-first approach had led him to coin the term “Pastoral Winemaker” … because Darek has been making Natural Wine since before anyone called it natural wine.

That’s right, Darek is a pioneer in the natural wine movement, and a true OG who started his winery in the 90’s and was farming vineyards before that. He has a wealth of information to share from well over 25 years of regenerating vineyard ecosystems and shepherding wine.

We talk about exactly how he does this, bringing vineyards planted in the 1800’s back to vibrant vitality by building soil carbon. We talk about how he uses sesame oil as his only fungicide, his farming of the only Abouriou vineyard in the New World, and how he is helping Sonoma County reduce wildfire risk while regenerating soil health with proprietary woodchip compost through his Soil Carbon Management Company.

Darek is someone who has ignored the trends and just continued to make farming-first wine for decades. And because of that he probably hasn’t gotten the attention he deserves. So I’m thrilled to be able to share the beautiful work he’s been doing.

https://www.oldworldwinery.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Jerry Eisterhold & Jean-Louis Horvilleur - TerraVox, American Native Wine Grapes in Missouri

Jerry Eisterhold & Jean-Louis Horvilleur - TerraVox, American Native Wine Grapes in Missouri

February 23, 2022

Hidalgo, Wetumka, Norton, Cloeta. If you haven’t heard these names before, they are American heritage or American native wine grape varieties. And they are just a few of the dozens of native grape varieties being grown at TerraVox or Vox Vineyards, just outside of Kansas City, Missouri.

Missouri is the site of America’s first and oldest AVA, by the way, so it has a long and fascinating wine history, which we get into in this interview.

In the current American wine industry, built as it is on imported European varieties, these American native varieties haven’t had much of a voice. But Jerry Eisterhold and Jean-Louis Horvilleur are helping to change that. Jerry is the founder and proprietor of TerraVox, and Jean is the winemaker and vineyard manager. TerraVox means Voice of the Land.

TerraVox is a living museum of the diversity of American native wine grapes. But more than that, it is an example of viticulture as a dynamic process. And while this interview is chock-full of amazing insights and information, these are the two points that I hope you’ll hear most clearly:

That fostering, preserving, and celebrating diversity is the key to creativity, innovation, and resilience, and that the best viticulture is a dynamic process, built on the ability to continually adapt and incorporate diversity.

Celebrating diversity and process-centered rather than varietal-centered viticulture are the keys to eliminating short-sighted decision making and to building adaptability and resilience into the American wine industry.

I want to thank Jerry and Jean for giving us a great example of how this can be done through TerraVox.

https://www.voxvineyards.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Ian Thorsen-McCarthy

Ian Thorsen-McCarthy

February 16, 2022

Ian Thorsen-McCarthy is my guest for this episode, and he has made wine on both coasts… first in California and now in New York.

His project is Artemis Botanical, and you can probably tell from the name that he doesn’t just make wine. Vermouth and now cider are part of his repertoire, and he is equally thoughtful about them all. Ian is deeply rooted in natural winemaking. So much so that if you tested him on how to add sulfur to wine, he might fail.

In this conversation we talk about why he decided to move his winemaking to New York, why he decided to work with grapes that were not organically grown for the first time and the importance of this to actually making a difference with his winemaking.

Ian asked me some great questions too, and this conversation ranged into new territory that I think is very helpful in grappling with some complex issues. I’m really grateful Ian was willing to explore these things with me, and I can’t wait to see what this new chapter of his wine life will bring.

https://www.artemisbotanical.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Jason Kesselring - The Only Vitis Riparia Vineyard in the World

Jason Kesselring - The Only Vitis Riparia Vineyard in the World

February 7, 2022

“The blood of the land” is how Jason Kesselring refers to wine. Jason grows grapes and makes wine in a place that sounds like it’s from Game of Thrones, where winter temperatures drop below 30 degrees … below zero, and summer temps can get over 100, where wind blows viciously year round, and tornados are common in the summer, and where last year at the end of May the temperature dropped to minus 23 degrees.

Welcome to North Dakota, one of the most extreme climates in the Americas.

Kesselring Vineyards is America’s only vitis riparia vineyard, and it’s been around for over a decade. Jason started the vineyard by observing and tagging wild vines, taking cuttings in the winter, and propagating them a few feet away in his vineyard, then created additional blocks via massale selection.

When I say propagate, I mean he literally just stuck the cuttings in the ground. And Jason says he actually had to spray them, once, in the last fifteen years, because of a crown gall issue.

What Jason is doing is revolutionary, but at the same time it’s the most natural thing that humans have been doing for thousands of years. The question it begs is, Why isn’t this the basis of American viticulture and wine? As you hear Jason’s incredible story, in his understated way that seems characteristic of this place in the world, that question becomes more and more poignant.

As I talked to Jason I became overwhelmed, not by what he was doing, but by how surreal and absurd the imported, Eurocentric wine world is that I generally inhabit and that dominates the wine industry. I cannot thank Jason enough for bringing somewhat of an outsider’s perspective to hold up a mirror to my way of thinking, and for introducing me to a new world of extreme beauty.

@kesselringvineyards

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

And:

The Ecological Wine Score

Martha Stoumen - How To Make Natural Wine

Martha Stoumen - How To Make Natural Wine

January 26, 2022

It was such a pleasure to geek out with Martha Stoumen about making wine for this epidsode. This conversation gets highly technical, and even more highly helpful for anyone, at any level, who is making wine or thinking about it. If you want to take your wine making to the next level, listen closely. I have learned multiple new things from Martha every time I’ve re-listened.

The ostensible subject of this episode is How to make Natural Wine, but of course there isn’t one way to make natural wine. Instead, Martha offers the principles and perspectives and biology and chemistry that can help you approach wine making holistically, with the goal of helping this living being – the grapevine – achieve what seems to be its ultimate destiny. And we do a case study of one of her wines, to give an intimate and detailed view of the practical application of her approach.

The one impression that I hope you’ll get, if nothing else, is just how thoughtful Martha is about every aspect of this process. She thinks carefully about everything from the macro to the micro, and asks great questions about how to use human efforts to facilitate all of the non-human elements that work for us to create, and refine, and protect a beautiful wine. We could not have asked for a better teacher.

Martha makes wine in Sebastapol, California and you can buy her wines at marthastoumen.com. And I highly recommend you do try them. We talk about how well adapted Italian varieties of grapes are to making natural wine in California, and she has several examples that show just how deliciously true that is.

Sponsor:

Centralas Wine

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