Organic Wine Podcast
Gary Paul Nabhan - Indigenous Fermented Beverages of Mexico & Southwest US

Gary Paul Nabhan - Indigenous Fermented Beverages of Mexico & Southwest US

November 22, 2021

Gary Paul Nabhan is an Agricultural Ecologist, Ethnobotanist, Ecumenical Franciscan Brother, and author of over 30 books. His work has focused primarily on the interaction of biodiversity and cultural diversity of the arid binational Southwest. He is considered a pioneer in the local food movement and the heirloom seed saving movement.

A first-generation Lebanese American, Nabhan was raised in Gary, Indiana. He worked at the headquarters for the first Earth Day in Washington DC

Gary has achieved several degrees, including a Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary arid lands resource sciences also at the University of Arizona, and he has received numerous awards including a Macarthur Fellowship. 

He co-founded Native Seeds/SEARCH  a non-profit conservation organization which works to preserve place-based Southwestern agricultural plants as well as knowledge of their uses, and he did the research to help Secretary Bruce Babbitt create Ironwood Forest National Monument.

He now serves as the Kellogg Endowed Chair in Southwestern Borderlands Food and Water Security. At the University of Arizona, where he founded the Center for Regional Food Studies and catalyzed the initiative to have UNESCO designate Tucson as the first City of Gastronomy in the U.S.

Despite all this, I only came to hear about Gary when Ricky Taylor of Alta Marfa forwarded me an article about Gary’s intra-institutional work to catalog and preserve the rich diversity of Mexico’s traditional fermented beverages. Maybe this shows my need to broaden my scope, or maybe it shows the power of these fermented beverages to capture attention… I’ll let you decide. Regardless, I’m so grateful to have discovered the wealth of wisdom and knowledge that is Gary Paul Nabhan, and I’m thrilled to be able to share him with you.

https://www.garynabhan.com/

Colonche, Tepache, Tesguino, Pulque, Mesquite, Mescal

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Quinn Hobbs - Hollow Wines

Quinn Hobbs - Hollow Wines

November 15, 2021

Quinn Hobbs, the founder and owner of Hollow Wines, is my guest for this episode. Quinn is based here in the Los Angeles area, but makes wine in the Central Coast. I don’t think it’s inaccurate to call Quinn a maverick. He wants to build Hollow Wines to be the Gallo of sustainable, environmentally positive wine, and shake up the wine industry. Hes going big, and thinking big.

Quinn takes a holistic perspective on what it means to farm responsibly, wants to make it more acceptable to buy wine in cans to reduce wine’s carbon footprint, and he’s followed the lead of his own health to embrace natural, minimal intervention winemaking.

In addition to being a disrupter of the wine world with big plans, he’s a father, he’s studying for a phd, and He’s never more than a short drive from the ocean  so that he can get some surfing in with all his free time. That’s a joke. Quinn has no free time. But he does love to surf. Enjoy!

https://hollowwines.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Rob Durham - Durham Cider and Wine

Rob Durham - Durham Cider and Wine

November 8, 2021

It’s a pleasure to introduce you to Rob Durham of Durham Cider and Wine Company in this episode. Rob is rocking the California Central Coast Cider scene, but also makes cider that represents the entire west coast of the US. Rob’s journey to start Durham Cider and Wine didn’t follow a straight path, so this conversation rambles around a bit uncovering fascinating and really admirable insights into his knowledge and experience at every turn.

Rob has crossed North America on a bike, owned an edible landscaping company, worked on an organic potato farm in Idaho, gotten fired from his first brewery job, and now makes close to 20 ciders and wines each year (though he hope to make less varieties), with names like Everything Is Mood and Space Parade. I hope that, like me, this conversation will cause you to want to get to know him and his ciders better. Enjoy!

https://www.durhamciderandwine.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Austin Glasscock - Wild Texas Wines (with Prickly Pears!)

Austin Glasscock - Wild Texas Wines (with Prickly Pears!)

September 27, 2021

As we continually strive to move our winery, Centralas, in the direction of becoming a more ecologically thoughtful and environmentally beneficial winery, I became convinced that prickly pears need to be an important part of what we do and what we promote as Los Angeles based winery.

Prickly pears are native to Los Angeles and other parts of the South West, and have been tended and used here for thousands of years. The entire cactus is useful and edible. I foraged and picked them this year from natural areas all around LA, including some within walking distance of my home in South LA. Prickly pears thrive in marginal land without irrigation or chemical inputs of any kind. These are the kinds of fruits that we can build an environmentally positive and ecologically integrated local beverage culture on. A culture that isn’t imported, but that represents the unique local flavor of this land.

As you can tell, I couldn’t be more excited about the potential of incorporating prickly pears into wine. 

Austin Glasscock, our guest for this episode, shares my enthusiasm. He’s making wine from prickly pears, and other wild fruit, in Sonora, Texas with his brand new winery called Wild Texas Wines. Austin is a marine who got into winemaking as a hobby after his military service, and found not only a love of fermentation, but a great excuse to get out into the natural world.

I was delighted to hear Austin talk about how he gathers fruit by hand, without equipment, with some serious risk, so as to move through the landscape as an animal would and leave a light footprint. I was inspired by his vision of staying small – wanting only to make a living and maintain a lifestyle that allows him to interact with nature daily.

The most amazing part is how much the wines Austin makes embodies his love of nature in every aspect of his process. The contrast to how we tend to make wines here in California is stark, and makes me thrilled to be able to share this unassuming and understated winemaker’s perspective.

We get into some pretty detailed technical specifics about making wine from prickly pears, which I hope will be part of a growing body of shared knowledge that others can learn from and add too. I hope that Austin and I and a few others are just the early adopters of what will become a much more popular kind of thinking about making wine ecologically from locally available wild fruit here in the South West where the summers are long, the sun is hot, and the water is more precious than gold.

In truth we aren’t early adopters at all. We’re the rediscoverers and revivers of a very old tradition.

https://www.wildtexaswines.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Eve’s Cidery - How To Make Sparkling Cider with Autumn Stoscheck & Ezra Sherman

Eve’s Cidery - How To Make Sparkling Cider with Autumn Stoscheck & Ezra Sherman

August 19, 2021

On this episode we get a comprehensive step-by-step how to make sparkling cider from Autumn Stoscheck and Ezra Sherman of Eve’s Cidery. This is Cider Making 101, from the folks who have achieved OG status in the New York cider world because they’ve been at this for over 20 years and have mentored and collaborated with many of the folks who now have successful cideries of their own.

I don’t want to over-hype them, but learning cider making from Autumn and Ezra is the equivalent of learning winemaking from Paul Draper, or Bernard Noblet, or Lalou Bize-Leroy. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Autumn and Ezra make some of the best ciders in the world. They are farmers and foragers who turn nature’s bounty into some of the most true-to-place and also refined ciders you can drink. From sparkling ciders made from pears foraged from the Fingerlakes National Forest, to site-specific apple ciders from their own certified organic single orchard, Eve’s Cidery produces uniquely high quality ciders that are some of the best I’ve personally ever had, and that have at times moved me to my core and haunted my dreams.

Okay maybe I do want to over-hype them.

Because I think the quality that is exhibited in their ciders comes from their deeply thoughtful approach to farming and living in the land. In addition to teaching us how to make cider, some of the highlights of this episode are learning about Autumn’s conversion to organic farming, how foraging can reconnect us to the land, our community, and our dependence on nature, as well as inform the potential for reparations to those who were removed from the land. And we even get a glimpse of how to move into the future of growing fruit organically, even on the east coast where the fungal and pest pressures are extreme and complex.

https://www.evescidery.com/

Bibliography:

The Finger Lakes Region: It's Origin and Nature by O. D. Von Engeln - Cornell University Press 1961

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Thanks:

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Steve Selin - South Hill Cider, Ithaca, New York

Steve Selin - South Hill Cider, Ithaca, New York

August 12, 2021

Steve Selin is the proprietor of South Hill Cidery in Ithaca New York, where he farms apples organically and makes beautiful cider and music.

Wendy and I stumbled upon South Hill Cider on a recent visit to the Fingerlakes region, and I was just so impressed by the quality of the ciders that I returned to get a chance to chat with the person who was responsible. After a brief 5 minute conversation with Steve, I knew I wanted to interview him, and I think you’ll see why.

As I was getting to know Steve via this interview, I was delightfully surprised by the many unexpected and fascinating turns that this conversation took. It’s always a strange and special experience to find that someone far away living a different life is thinking about many of the same ideas that you’re contemplating.

One of the topics we cover is how “local” is as important as “organic” when looking at the big picture of our ecological footprint.

Yes, this presents some immediate compromises to my values, but I think it is the long term way to have the greatest positive impact. At this point in American history I think one of the most important things we can do is cultivate friendships with people with whom we disagree.

https://www.southhillcider.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Vitis Sapiens - 1st Year Anniversary Episode

Vitis Sapiens - 1st Year Anniversary Episode

August 3, 2021

How does the way we grow and make and drink wine fit into a historical and ecological perspective? What is the importance of organic or biodynamic or regenerative ways of farming grapes? How are we related to grapes, and what does that mean for our relationship with all of nature? Is the climate crisis really a cultural crisis? And what are the solutions to the cultural climate crisis that now threatens both our wines and our lives?

These and many other questions are addressed in this special anniversary episode in which host and creator Adam Huss gives a retrospective and introspective review of the things we learned in the last year on the Organic Wine Podcast.

Books referenced include:

The Unsettling of America, by Wendell Berry

The Overstory, by Richard Powers

The Half Has Never Been Told, by Edward E. Baptist

Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, by David Montgomery

Tending The Wild, by M. Kat Anderson

Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer

 

Sponsor:

Centralas Wine

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Garrett Miller - Finger Lakes Cider House

Garrett Miller - Finger Lakes Cider House

July 19, 2021

Garret Miller is one of the people responsible for Finger Lakes Cider House just a few minutes outside of Ithaca, New York. Nestled in the narrow strip of land between the two largest finger lakes, Finger Lakes Cider House is at the epicenter of the new cider renaissance in the North East US. Garret’s farm is using regenerative organic polyculture to produce organic fruit and veggies, and making some of the tastiest ciders and local farm to table food you can find.

I’ve wanted to talk to Garret for a while. Not just because of the beautiful farming he’s doing, but because Finger Lakes Cider House is responsible for blowing my mind. I stumbled on them on a visit to the Finger Lakes to taste wine. All I can say is that after trying their ciders I forgot all about fermented grapes and began seeking out the elixir that is possible when apples and pears are given the quality of attention they deserve. It was some of Garret’s work that convinced me that Cider, good cider, is America’s champagne.

Garret dropped out of high school to start farming, and he’s been learning ever since. We leave dogma behind in this interview and really dig into some of the nuances and compromises and complications that are a reality in the world of agriculture. I’m very grateful to Garret for his candid answers to some difficult questions.

If there’s a theme to this episode, I’d sum it up as “We have a lot to learn from farmers.” We talk a lot about the understanding gap between those who are doing the farming and those who are consuming farm products… that is, everyone who isn’t a farmer.

http://www.fingerlakesciderhouse.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Dear Native Grapes - Deanna & Alfie Alcantara

Dear Native Grapes - Deanna & Alfie Alcantara

July 13, 2021

Deanna and Alfie Alcantara don’t like to see wasted potential. And they see lots of potential in the wealth of America’s endemic grape species. Not only potential for new vines that are adapted for the climate in which they’re grown, don’t need to be sprayed with chemicals, and make wines that truly reflect their land, but also potential for engaging and involving all kinds of people, especially those who might feel excluded or marginalized by the dominant Euro-centered wine culture.

So Deanna & Alfie have started a project to revive, refine and re-define the native grape and wine cultures of America. They found a piece of property in the Catskill Mountains of New York, and they’ve begun planting vines from grape species that contain native DNA – some new varieties that aren’t even named yet, and others with names like Black Eagle and America, and still others that they found growing wild on their property.

They are at the beginning of a project that can take many, many years to begin to see the impact of their efforts. I think there’s something brave and hopeful about starting something that can take longer than the years you’ve been given on this earth. And I think these are the kinds of projects we need desperately now, so I hope Deanna & Alfie will inspire us to think about what is important enough for us to give our lives to even if we know we won’t see the results.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, their name for this project is “Dear Native Grapes.” Maybe that’s where they get their inspiration. Because what they’ve started is something much more meaningful than a business plan. They’ve started writing a love letter.

@dear.native.grapes

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Chiara Shannon - The Yogi Sommelier

Chiara Shannon - The Yogi Sommelier

June 29, 2021

Chiara Rose Shannon is a California-based advanced sommelier, certified yoga instructor and mindfulness practitioner, and she’s also known as The Yogi Sommelier. Her unique approach to Mindful Wine™ tasting and combining the principles and practice of yoga with wine have been featured in The Wall Street Journal.

Chiara believes in wine as part of a healthy, balanced and meaningful lifestyle. Her wellness-informed approach to wine education integrates principles of yoga, mindfulness and traditional sommelier training on top of a deep, working knowledge informed by many years in the industry. An advocate for environmental sustainability, Chiara has niche expertise in organic, Biodynamic and natural wines and sourcing sustainable alternatives within the three-tier system.

What is the connection between yoga and wine, you may ask? Well, the word ‘connection’ is actually the key to answering that question. As we talk, I think you’ll find that the way Chiara approaches this question provides a perspective that is much broader and deeper than either yoga or wine.

https://www.theyogisommelier.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

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