Organic Wine Podcast
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

Stephen Hagen and Andrew Smith - Antiquum Farm & Grazing-Based Viticulture

Stephen Hagen and Andrew Smith - Antiquum Farm & Grazing-Based Viticulture

January 17, 2022

Stephen Hagen and Andrew Smith are my guests on this episode, and we’re talking about Antiquum Farm in Oregon. Antiquum is Stephen’s family farm where Andrew runs the cellar, and where they practice Grazing-Based Viticulture, or what Stephen calls Joy Based Agriculture, and I believe he’s doing for grape farming what Joel Salatin has done for regular farming. Antiquum is a vineyard ecosystem specifically designed to enable nearly year-round high-intensity managed grazing of kune kune pigs, sheep, geese, chickens and ducks in the vineyard, though not necessarily in that order. Stephen describes in detail the infrastructure, practical considerations, animal breeds, resources, and much much more that is necessary to make this system work and to make it possible to produce wine that is 100% true to place.

This is a must-listen for anyone considering maintaining a year-round herd and incorporating them in the vineyard, or for anyone who just wants to hear an example of some incredible, earth-first agriculture and how that impacts the wine that comes from it.

This ecosystem requires zero outside inputs for fertility. This closed loop holistic farm continually increases the distinctiveness and richness of the soil microbiome which has had dramatic effects on the grapes’ morphology, chemistry, and flavor. If you really believe in terroir, Stephen and Andrew have taken this concept to such an extreme that I think it redefines terroir. This is such a compelling perspective that I think it challenges a majority of the claims to terroir in the wine world.

If you want to be inspired by what could be possible for the future of wine, or if you want to save 15 years of trial and error in grazing-based viticulture, prepare for a 20 terabit download. And don’t be surprised if you start hearing the name Antiquum – however you pronounce it – a lot more often.

https://www.antiquumfarm.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Christopher Renfro - The Two Eighty Project

Christopher Renfro - The Two Eighty Project

January 11, 2022

My guest for this episode is Christopher Renfro of The Two Eighty Project. If you haven’t had the pleasure to learn about what he’s doing with wine in San Francisco, you’re in for a treat.

Christopher spent much of his childhood in Germany, which allows him a bit of an outsider’s perspective on the culture of the United States that is refreshing and extremely relevant. He has a big vision for the kinds of things he wants to accomplish. We jump right in to discuss the foundational characteristics of the culture of the United States in relation to his story, his work to create what I refer to as a counter-culture of compassion through wine, and his thoughts on our many deep connections to the land and disconnections from it.

But as big as these ideas are, I really appreciated how Christopher is grounded in appreciation for the magic of being alive, breathing air and eating food that we can grow from the earth. I love the inclusiveness of his vision and his desire to celebrate and embrace the many diverse people and cultures that make up our world. This excitement for the contribution that each different being can contribute to our live is what I think is the soul of biodiversity, and a key to the shift of perspective needed to heal our culture… and our climate.

@thetwoeightyproject

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Is The Cost of Organic or Biodynamic Certification Worth It?

Is The Cost of Organic or Biodynamic Certification Worth It?

January 6, 2022

In this special episode I’m going to clear up a far to common misunderstanding about how much it costs to get certified organic or biodynamic (Spoiler alert: it doesn't cost a lot to get certified.) But I’ll also raise some of the complicated but important questions about whether it’s worth getting certified.

I give an in-depth look at the actual fees and costs of the three year transition period for becoming certified Organic and Biodynamic, using a 20 acre vineyard as an example, as well as the on-going annual costs of being certified. 

Also, I explain the complicated way that certification applies to what you can and can't say on your wine's label, and why there are actually two certifications required to be able to state "Made With Organic Grapes" or "Organic Wine" or "Biodynamic Wine" on your wine labels. 

A special thanks to Gina of Lady of the Sunshine for providing some great data from her own Biodynamic certification process, which was a big help in my research for this piece. 

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Martin Bernal-Hafner - Alta Orsa

Martin Bernal-Hafner - Alta Orsa

January 3, 2022

My guest for this episode is Martin Bernal-Hafner. Martin is doing some beautiful and hard work in Mendocino County for Alta-Orsa on a vineyard that is as difficult to farm as it is magical.

Martin may be the perfect guy for such a difficult job. He’s humble and unassuming, thorough and careful, with kindness and patience to boot. And maybe that’s why you haven’t heard of him or Alta Orsa, but that, and the kind of farming he’s doing despite herculean challenges, are exactly why I wanted to talk to him for the podcast.

But even more than that, the Alta Orsa estate vineyard is something special. Halfway up a mountain at the end of what looks and drives like a dirt fire service road you come upon what could be an old Italian wine villa if it was set in Middle Earth. When the gate opens and you pass through the weathered stone entry, it’s like going through a faery door into another realm. Vineyard rows that have never been tilled in 30 years twist and turn over the steep contours of the mountainside, so closely planted that they must be tended entirely by hand…  and the wine that flows from them is dusky, rich, and complex.

https://www.orsawines.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Sandor Katz - The Art Of Wild Fermentation

Sandor Katz - The Art Of Wild Fermentation

December 29, 2021

By looking at wine from a different perspective, I think we can gain a greater appreciation and understanding of it, and also get some inspiration about how we could think completely differently about it, and how that might make it something less exclusive, more sustainable, and more fun.

My guest for this episode is Sandor Katz. Sandor is the author of the books Wild Fermentation as well as The Art of Fermentation – which could be considered the fermentation Bible, and for which he received a James Beard Award – and his most recent book is Fermentation Journeys.

The information Sandor gives in this episode could change not only the way you think, but also the way you eat and drink. I’ve actually been inspired to incorporate new ideas and ingredients into my winemaking and food-making because of this conversation.

Sandor explains how the context of human life, and all life, is biodiversity. The human body is host to over a trillion bacteria, and countless other microorganisms. Rather than eliminate this microbiome, we need this community to be robust to maintain our health. Fermentation, in the context of a global pandemic, is a profound shift in thinking – away from sterility and toward diversity and resilience.

And fermentation is a natural result of the abundance of life. Fermentation explodes categories and defies labels. It prevents waste and reuses byproducts.

Sandor’s mission is to revive our connection to these ancient processes, and after this conversation I hope you feel as reconnected as I did.

https://www.wildfermentation.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Olivia Maki & Mike Reis - Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop

Olivia Maki & Mike Reis - Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop

December 20, 2021

Olivia Maki and Mike Reis are my guests on this episode, and they are the owners of Redfield Cider Bar in Oakland, California! Redfield is one of just a handful of bars anywhere dedicated to Cider, as well as natural wine, and Olivia and Mike give us an in-depth exploration of what it takes to open and run such a bar… during a pandemic, no less.

If you’ve ever dreamed of opening your own bar, this episode will give you the nitty gritty of what goes into it… and you may want to change your dream. Or you may get the vital info you need to make your dream a reality. And even if you don’t want to open a bar, Olivia and Mike will give you a vital perspective on what goes into you being able to casually sit down and enjoy a glass of wine or cider at your local wine bar. You may end up enjoying that glass a whole lot more.

https://www.redfieldcider.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

 

Tilted Shed Ciderworks - Ellen Cavalli Unfiltered, Unfined, & Un-disgorged

Tilted Shed Ciderworks - Ellen Cavalli Unfiltered, Unfined, & Un-disgorged

December 14, 2021

Ellen Cavalli is the co-apple grower, gleaner, forager, cidermaker and owner of Tilted Shed Cider Works, in Sonoma, California. She has a past career in publishing and continues to have a hand in the zine called Malus. I just discovered Malus thanks to Ellen, and I love it and highly recommend checking it out.

At only 10 years in business, Tilted Shed has achieved serious notoriety in the west coast new wave of cider, and this conversation with Ellen is about to show you why.

Ellen is as entertaining as she is insightful, and the laughs and pearls of wisdom continue in rapid fire throughout this entirely uncensored and unedited conversation. 

https://www.tiltedshed.com/

https://www.maluszine.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Mimi Casteel Revisited - Is Wine Big Enough?

Mimi Casteel Revisited - Is Wine Big Enough?

December 6, 2021

Mimi Casteel started her journey by going to the forest. She found she could not save the forest from within, so she went to the farm. But she found she could not save the farm from within either, so she has recently taken the next step in her journey, and that was why I wanted to have this conversation with her… to ask her what that next step is, and why she’s taking it.

But more than offering just the answers to these questions, Mimi offers us an urgent call to make big changes. She offers us hope in the resilience of the natural world. And she describes the vital need that we all have of getting and giving support to each other.

We skip introductions in this interview, so if you don’t know who Mimi Casteel is, I urge you to search out her other interviews and talks. Mimi is my first repeat guest, so you can also find another great interview with her in the Organic Wine Podcast episode library.

The context of this conversation is wine, of course. But wine has led us to ask some really big questions, questions about the sanity of our current economic model, questions about the sustainability of our global food system, questions about survival.

Mimi’s perspectives are at once radical and compassionate. Revolutionary and life-affirming. You are in for a treat.

Todd Cavallo - Wild Arc Farm, Natural Piquette and Ecological Winemaking in the Hudson Valley

Todd Cavallo - Wild Arc Farm, Natural Piquette and Ecological Winemaking in the Hudson Valley

December 1, 2021

Todd Cavallo is the vingneron, with his partner Crystal Cornish, of Wild Arc Farm in the Hudson Valley of New York.

This is a dense, practical and at times technical interview about being a thoughtful ecological producer of natural wine in the Northeast US. I I was taking notes.

Among so many other helpful nuggets in this interview, you’re going to get some amazing tips about how to produce a natural piquette from the guy who started the piquette revolution.

I love that this conversation started with bees, chickens, deer, eagles, beetles, grubs, composted chicken manure, and gardens. Once we begin to understand that the best wine grows from a diverse and vibrant ecosystem, the more we see that these seemingly tertiary topics are actually central to understanding and producing wine.

I love that Todd and Crystal are thinking about NOT planting more grapes, but rather helping established grape producers switch to organic practices.

I love that Todd is extremely thoughtful not just about what kind of sprays hes using in his vineyards, but who produces them, how often they must be applied and what that means for his carbon footprint, and how to spray more effectively.

I love Todd’s emphasis on using local ingredients, including promoting the use of local materials for fermentation vessels… which involved a discussion about the American Chestnut, which, if you don’t know about, will be a great intro to what has been called the greatest ecological disaster in history.

Wild Arc Farms was recently selected to produce a wine for Patagonia's new line of natural wines. 

https://www.wildarcfarm.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

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