January 12, 2021
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Organic Wine Podcast featuring James Endicott of Vinocity Selections. I’m your host and creator, coming to you from Los Angeles, Adam Huss.
James created Vinocity Selections with his partners to leverage wine to tackle climate change by revolutionizing the supply chain. Vinocity Selections is a wine importing, distribution, and retail hub all in one. The Vinocity Selections website – vinocityselections.com – makes it clear that this company begins with agriculture, specifically viticulture that is “beyond organic.” It makes the bold claim that: “Agriculture is the climate solution. Wine is our first step.” And James accomplishes this by curating and promoting a client list of wine producers who make wine from regeneratively farmed vineyards as a first step. The big problems he is trying to solve, and that are relevant to everyone in wine, is how to create a supply chain that protects and enhances the good work these producers are doing in the vineyard.
I think you’ll really enjoy this conversation because James cares so deeply about the problems he’s trying to solve, and we went deep into some of the big questions facing the wine industry.
Also, I want to give a special thanks to Lisa Bauer of Yamakiri wines. She introduced me to James, and this episode wouldn’t have been possible without her generous spirit. You can hear my interview with Lisa on episode 24.
January 5, 2021
My guest for this episode is Nathan Stuart, and he’s got one of the rarest and coolest jobs in wine. He’s the in house shepherd for Tablas Creek Winery.
If you don’t know Tablas Creek, suffice it to say that if you had to pick the greatest wineries in the US, by almost any measure Tablas Creek would be in top 5 on that list. Tablas Creek introduced many of the Rhone varieties of grapes to the US, and were among the first to popularize them. They are the only winery to have imported and cultivated all of the grape varieties of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
And in addition to that, Tablas Creek has been biodynamic for years and recently became the first winery in the world to become Regenerative Organic Certified. They are like an incubator winery for holistic ideas about how farming can be improved to create healthier vines that are more integrated into the natural landscape so that the wine is as good as it possibly can be.
Nathan’s role as the shepherd is integral to this vision. More than that, he helps explain why animals are essential to not only regenerating vineyard soil health, but if properly managed they can be the key to saving the health of the planet.
Nathan takes us back in time to when the buffalo roamed in immense herds, to understand how plants, soil, and animals all evolved symbiotically together. He tells about how we’ve now begun to integrate these principles into the best farming practices today to reduce carbon emissions, improve soil health, and save money, and he gives us a vision of the future in which vineyards are actually built to accommodate and maximize the presence and influence of animals.
December 29, 2020
Ann Thomas is the cofounder of Wester Reserve Distillers, a craft distillery located just outside of Cleveland and Ohio’s only certified organic distillery. With her husband and son, Ann makes a full array of award winning spirits from all organic ingredients, including local organic non-GMO, heritage seed stock grains for their whiskies, gins, and vodka, organic Louisiana molasses for their rum, and organic agave for their tequila which they can’t call tequila because it isn’t made in Mexico.
No, this episode isn't about wine, but the reason I wanted to highlight what Ann and her family are doing with Western Reserve Distillers is because I think it’s extremely important to get across a simple idea about organic agriculture: I’ve found that People often don’t care whether their spirits are made with organic ingredients. I think that’s because we tend to think about everything as it relates to us personally. So we think about organic concerns from a standpoint of what we put into our body, rather than what organic means for the world. But the simple idea that I want to get across with this episode is this, and really it’s the mission for this podcast: Organic is not as much about what we put into our bodies as it is about what we put into the world. Your purchase of your favorite bourbon or vodka supports an entire agricultural system and supply chain that involves millions of acres of land and waterways. Take corn for example, which is used in bourbon and other whiskies. It accounts for over 91 million acres of farmland in the US, most of which is grown conventionally with chemical herbicides and pesticides and fertilizers. Corn alone accounts for millions of tons of hazardous chemicals being dumped into our environment. If you are not buying organic spirits, you are helping to create and support that system.
So I wanted to introduce you to one of a handful of spirits companies that is giving you an option to defund the destruction of our environment, including a bourbon that beat Pappy Van Winkle as best bourbon in the world. Ultimately, of course, it will be healthier for you too because you’ll get to live in a cleaner world.
I know you’ll enjoy meeting Ann Thomas as much as I did, and I hope the great work she and her family are doing with Western Reserve Distillers makes you think twice the next time you reach for your favorite spirit.
December 22, 2020
Wine and winemaking are having a renaissance in Los Angeles. And Lindsay Williams and Belen Arredondo are making sure that South Central is part of that renaissance.
Lindsay is a doctor of nursing, a frontline worker during the pandemic, and the founder of the South LA Wine club. Belen is a South LA garagiste, literally making a ton of wine in her garage, and joined Lindsay as a co-operator of the South LA Wine Club. Together they are working to bring good wine, with equity and diversity of choice, to their community. I would bet lots of money that this is just the beginning of many big, bright, and beautiful wine projects that these two create and work on both independently and together.
For Lindsay and Belen wine is about connection, and the passion and compassion that they bring to helping others connect with each other through wine is inspiring. Their stories will convince you that there is a beautiful – and delicious – future for wine in our neighborhood, and yours.
December 16, 2020
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This is an important mantra and one that we’ve all heard and applied in some small or large way at home. But for my guest for this episode, this was more than a good idea – it was her career, and it led to her starting her winery.
Lisa Bauer is the owner of Yamakiri – a winery she started when she discovered a feral sauvignon blanc vineyard full of grapes that were going to waste.
That vineyard couldn’t have been discovered by a better person. Lisa had recently retired from a career in recycling and had a viticultultural philosophy inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka. After retiring she had bought land and moved to the Yorkville Highlands AVA of Mendocino County. Her desire to let nothing go to waste started her on a path to figure out what to do with those savignon blanc grapes… and led to a chain of events that resulted in her winery and her cidery called Sineater Ciders.
With Yamakiri and Sineater she continues to make use of that feral vineyard, which she allows to remain “wild,” as well as grapes and fruit from other organic and biodynamic vineyards and orchards.
I had a blast getting to know Lisa a little bit, and I hope you do too. She’s funny, smart, and inspiring, and really forged her own path in wine by following her organic values and her desire to let nothing go to waste.
December 8, 2020
Today we take a trip to the country to meet Craig Camp, the General Manager of Troon Vineyard in the Applegate Valley AVA of Southwest Oregon. Troon is a certified organic and biodynamic winery and estate vineyard that focuses on blends made from the grapes of Southern France, which seem to do extremely well in this northern area with a hot Mediterranean climate.
Craig was brought in to regenerate every aspect of Troon, and we had a very enjoyable conversation about everything that is happening there that he has helped implement. From soil testing and replanting and staff education to sheep dogs to organic vegetable gardens and more, even from the outside it’s exciting to hear about what he’s doing, and you can hear the excitement in the way he talks about it.
Craig has a personal story in regards to wine that I can relate to as well. He fell in love with wine far away from where it was grown, and over the course of his life and several career changes, he worked backwards toward an understanding of how the finest wine begins in a healthy, probiotic soil.
December 1, 2020
This episode highlights one of the new winemaking teams that are part of the Southern California Wine Rennaissance.
Herrmann York is the brand new winery that is a partnership of three young gents: Dustin Herrmann, Garrett York, and Taylor York. They all originate and make wine from a part of California that is often both over-looked and unfairly maligned as a wine growing region: southern, specifically inland, California. The high desert.
They are using their intelligence, passion, and loyalty to their corner of the world to prove that delicate, interesting, and delicious wines can be made in the desert.
Hearing them talk about how they are doing this is a colorful journey through this climate and its extremes, the grapes that thrive there, and the creativity they are using to craft wines that actually haven’t been made before.
November 24, 2020
Matt Niess discusses his winery slash cidery, North American Press, which is a California winery dedicated to native & hybrid grapes, heirloom apples, and native ingredients.
Matt forages wild grapes to blend with heirloom apples to make cider. He farms and makes wine from a small Baco Noir vineyard on the Sonoma Coast that is own-rooted in clay, below the fog line, and is not tilled NOR SPRAYED. And he’s convincing vineyard owners to let him foot the bill to plant an array of hybrid grapes in valuable vineyard land.
All of this takes a fair bit of courage. Matt is risking his livelihood on grapes and ideas that California has ignored and even shunned for over a century. He’s asking difficult questions, and he’s bravely willing to face the consequences of the unknown. Even doing this podcast was an act of courage for Matt, as you’ll find out.
Matt is willing to face these risks because the truth is that he isn’t just making wine, he’s on a mission to eliminate prejudice. Matt is breaking down prejudice against non-european grapes and wine flavors, prejudice against native plants and foods, and prejudice against the ways and wisdom of native peoples whose knowledge of the natural world may hold answers to some of the most urgent issues we’re facing today.
Once you’ve talked to Matt, it’s hard to talk about terroir or a sense of place in wine grown in California and North America in general without asking the questions he’s asking. And it’s become increasingly clear that asking these questions is necessary if we want to preserve biodiversity, get rid of our dependence on chemicals, survive extreme weather, and improve food security.
November 19, 2020
Laura Brennan Bissel is the owner of and winemaker for INCONNU.
She built her career, INCONNU, and a new project in the Columbia Gorge, by following her curiosity, her drive to find an occupation that allowed her to express her innate creativity, all while being guided by her love of wine.
As you’ll hear, Laura is beautifully articulate about some of the most important aspects of wine – its ability to inspire and encapsulate our love of life, and its sensual magic that somehow transcends the senses. But these aren’t romantic notion to her. They give wine its depth, and she’s quick to emphasize the respect and patience that great wine demands.
If you have an artists soul, If you are a free spirit, if you learn by doing, and if you are driven to create something beautiful and good… then you will enjoy getting to know Laura. She’s as much Muse as winemaker, and you’ll find yourself equal parts inspired and enchanted.
November 11, 2020
My guest for this episode is Alice Anderson. Alice is the vigneron for Amevive winery, based in Santa Barbara County. Alice leases the Ibarra-Young vineyard in the Los Olivos district and farms it with regenerative organic and biodynamic viticulture in partnership with animals and the native flora and fauna. In this interview we really dig into the winegrowing and winemaking specifics of how to craft beautiful, natural wines, even in hot, crazy years like 2020. It’s clear that Alice’s brilliance is in her holistic perspective on both caring for vines and making wine, and her generosity of spirit and thoughtfulness come through in the way she approaches every aspect of her passion. Amevive is only on its second vintage, and its already clear we can expect great things to come from Alice.