Kelly Mulville’s life has been guided by an awe and respect for the natural world and a deep appreciation for its beauty. This led him to want to learn how to farm in a way that protected or enhanced the natural world, and made him a better listener and observer of what made ecosystems work. Through his years of farming he has attempted to answer the question of how we can turn agriculture from one of the most destructive forces on the planet into the method we can use to repair that damage and restore biodiversity and health to ecosystems?
Kelly’s journey has led him to test various kinds of grazing-based viticulture in many contexts throughout the west and south-west US, and to ultimately build a vineyard system that incorporates animals year round in central California at Paicines Ranch. The work he is doing is laying the foundation for what I think will be the future of viticulture, and Kelly lays out the vision and principles that guide it.
Kelly is working with vinifera that he basically doesn’t have to spray because of the system he has implemented and his attention to soil health, biodiversity, and amazing new findings around SAP brix analysis that is revolutionizing our understanding of how we can prevent insect pest issues. We get into the details of the Watson trellising system he uses now to create a kind of vine forest rather than a vineyard, as well as how to potentially integrate sheep year round into an existing VSP trellis system, ground squirrel management, the ecology of birds in viticultural and agricultural systems, and the amazing return of an endangered species for which his vineyard is helping to provide desirable habitat.
If you haven’t heard of Kelly Mulville, or the work he’s doing at Paicines Ranch, this is potentially revolutionary stuff. I could not be more impressed with Kelly’s humble, passionate, and compassionate approach to viticulture. He grounds everything he does in science and real, detailed data, because he sees everything he has accomplished so far as just the beginning, and he wants others to be able to learn from and build upon this work to do even better.