Organic Wine Podcast
Kelly Mulville - Regenerative Grazing-Based Viticulture at Paicines Ranch

Kelly Mulville - Regenerative Grazing-Based Viticulture at Paicines Ranch

September 26, 2022

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.

https://paicinesranch.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Nicole Dooling & Michael Frey - Dirt & Mariah Vineyards, The World’s First Savory Institute Global Land To Market Verified Regenerative Vineyard

Nicole Dooling & Michael Frey - Dirt & Mariah Vineyards, The World’s First Savory Institute Global Land To Market Verified Regenerative Vineyard

September 19, 2022

My guests for this episode are Nicole Dooling and Michael Frey. Nicole and Michael helped transition Nicole’s parents’ mountain top vineyard in Medocino into the first ever Savory Institute Global Land To Market Verified regenerative vineyard in the world. We talk in depth about the Land to Market cerification, which is results based, rather than process based like most other certifications, and takes most of the work of certification off the farmer’s to do list. And we talk about Nicole and Michael helped convince her parents, the Doolings, to make this transition after 40 years of pouring their hearts and souls into Mariah Vineyards, with a lot of respect and commitment to the economic as well as the ecological success of the farm. This generational transition and how to navigate it is vital to regenerative agriculture, and this conversation has some amazing insights into it.

There are some important new ideas including how to be regenerative as a winemaker or consumer even if you don’t do any farming personally, perspective shifts about transitioning to a nature based style of farming that may have a slightly more wild and messy aesthetic, and we mention several great resources mentioned for everyone interested in learning or doing more. And Nicole and Michael leave us with a challenge that if you claim to be regenerative, then show it with quantified results.

https://mariahvineyards.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Justine Belle Lambright - Kalche Wine Worker Cooperative Making Hybrid Space Juice

Justine Belle Lambright - Kalche Wine Worker Cooperative Making Hybrid Space Juice

September 12, 2022

My guest for this episode is Justine Belle Lambright of Kalche Wine. Together with Kathline Chery and Grace Meyer, Justine has founded Kalche as a worker cooperative. If you’re wondering what it would mean for a winery to be built as a worker owned business, that’s exactly what we talk about in this episode.

Justine goes into detail about what is involved in setting up and running a winery as a worker cooperative. Because of the hard work they have already put in with their co-owners, Justine is able to give us almost a step-by-step how-to that includes many of the strengths and weaknesses, challenges and opportunities, as well as giving some great reasons why you might want to do this as well.

If you’re sick of Big Wine, if you envision a more equitable way of running a winery, if you want a business that is run democratically, if you want to think of people as humans rather than as human resources, if you think business should serve human needs rather than the other way around, then this conversation is for you.  Justine not only breaks down the details of how we might go about setting up our own worker cooperative, they also offer further resources and lifelines to provide practical help and information to anyone actually undertaking this kind of human-centered business building.

And we talk about Kalche’s Hybrid Space Juice and make a strong case for why American hybrid grapes need to be included in the mainstream of the wine current wherever it’s coming from.

Justine reads a poem, we meditate on death and consider a cosmic perspective on ourselves, and generally have a really fun, informative conversation.

https://www.kalchewine.co/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Part 2 - How To Make Clean, Delicious Natural Wine

Part 2 - How To Make Clean, Delicious Natural Wine

September 9, 2022

Thank you to everyone who responded to the first episode about how to make clean, delicious natural wine. Your feedback was both encouraging and helpful. It became clear that there was a desire for this kind of information, and that there were things I needed to further explain from part 1. 

This is a technical, detailed explanation of some of the important aspects of making wine naturally. If you haven't listened to part 1, this one will make a lot more sense if you do. Included in this part 2 episode are further discussions of optimal temperature and pH ranges for fermentation, everything you wanted to know about racking wine - when, how, how often, and why - and a comprehensive discussion of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in wine and how to avoid and manage it, and many other aspects of natural winemaking. 

Enjoy!

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Erin Rasmussen - American Wine Project

Erin Rasmussen - American Wine Project

September 6, 2022

My guest for this episode is Erin Rasmussen. Erin has made wine in Napa and on New Zealand, where she also completed graduate studies in winemaking and viticulture at Lincoln University. She took this transnational, transcontinental wine experience and returned to her childhood home of Wisconsin, where she founded the American Wine Project in 2018.

With The American Wine Project Erin explores the American grape varieties adapted to her beautiful corner of Wisconsin. Erin is innovative, applying a natural approach to winemaking informed by her breadth of experience in other, very different wine regions, to make some very exciting wines in her cold climate.

I had such a fun time picking Erin’s brain that I forgot to have her introducer herself and the American Wine Project until the end, so this is a slightly topsy turvy conversation that covers a lot of ground with truffles of delicious insight buried throughout. Erin shares some unique findings relating to whole cluster fermentations and stem inclusion to manage both pH and tannins in American varieties of grapes. We talk about many different facets of sweet wine, including how it’s made, what its purpose is, and why we shouldn’t be prejudiced against is. She crushes my ill-informed dream of holding a Judgement of Paris for hybrids. And she shows so many reasons, both explicitly and implicitly, why American grapes are the future… and really are already the present.

I’m sure you’ll quickly be as impressed as I was with Erin’s brilliance and great sense of humor… There are as many laughs as perspective shifting ideas throughout this fun interview. Enjoy!

https://americanwineproject.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Anne Biklé & David R. Montgomery - How To Heal Our Soil, Improve Our Wine, and Save Ourselves

Anne Biklé & David R. Montgomery - How To Heal Our Soil, Improve Our Wine, and Save Ourselves

August 29, 2022

For this episode I have the pleasure of talking with two of my favorite authors on soil and our utter dependence on it, Anne Biklé and David R. Montgomery

 

David R. Montgomery is a MacArthur Fellow and professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington.  He is an internationally recognized geologist who studies the effects of geological processes on ecological systems and human societies.  His work has been featured in documentary films, network and cable news, TV, and radio including NOVA, PBS NewsHour, Fox and Friends, and All Things Considered. 

 

Anne Biklé is a science writer and public speaker focusing on the connections between people, plants, food, health, and the environment.  She has been known to coax garden plants into rambunctious growth and nurse them back from the edge of death with her regenerative gardening practices.  Her work has appeared in digital and print magazines, newspapers, and radio and her gardening practices have been featured in independent and documentary films. 

 

Anne and David are married and live in Seattle, WA.  Their work includes What Your Food Ate: How to Heal Our Land and Reclaim Our Health, and a trilogy of books about soil health, microbiomes, and farming—Dirt: The Erosion of CivilizationsThe Hidden Half of Nature, and Growing a Revolution.

 

These books are not only about soil but about agriculture, our food system, human health and survival and the climate… and, perhaps shockingly, they provide ample evidence for a way forward that provides solutions to the problems we face in all of these areas… dare I say they provide hope? And, even more importantly, he says sarcastically, they provide ample evidence for how to farm grapes in a better way to make more delicious wine.

www.Dig2Grow.com 

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

How To Make Clean, Delicious Natural Wine

How To Make Clean, Delicious Natural Wine

August 24, 2022

This is natural winemaking 101, from a technical, principles-based approach, by Adam Huss, the host of the Organic Wine Podcast and the winemaker for Centralas Wine in Los Angeles, California. 

Adam presents a vineyard to bottle, step-by-step how-to that focuses on protecting and expressing the beautiful ecosystems from which the fruit comes. He offers tips and processes to make this job of winemaking understandable from chemical and microbial standpoint, and gives general guidelines that enable winemakers to be creative while crafting clean and delicious wine that is free of microbial spoilage, with as little intervention as possible. 

The principles and techniques Adam presents in this episode can help you make wine naturally, with practical tips about how to avoid Volatile Acidity (VA), Mouse Taint, Brettanomyces, and other common natural wine issues. The practical advice he gives can help you get a handle on how to make a delicious and clean wine with minimal to zero additives. He discusses the importance of CO2 and how to manage CO2 naturally to your advantage, the importance of pH and how to manage pH naturally, as well as two of the most important aspects of winemaking that are most often overlooked by natural winemakers. 

This is a special episode that Adam recorded while driving in Los Angeles, so please forgive the audio quality and unscripted nature of the tutorial. 

 

Kendra Knapik - Ellison Estate Vineyard Regenerative Grazing-Based Viticulture & Natural Wine

Kendra Knapik - Ellison Estate Vineyard Regenerative Grazing-Based Viticulture & Natural Wine

August 22, 2022

For this episode I had the pleasure of talking with Kendra Knapik of Ellison Estate Vineyard, a vineyard of American grapes on Grand Isle in the middle of Lake Champlain Vermont. Kendra and her husband Rob practice animal grazing integrated regenerative viticulture with a flock of sheep and organic practices, and make an array natural wines.

Kendra talks about the joys and challenges of embracing the life of a winegrower while having young children and a full-time job – in her case as a veterinary oncologist. As hard as you can tell she works, you can also hear in her voice that she is fueled by the beauty of what she’s doing. The process is as impressive to me as what she’s building, and one more piece of evidence that Vermont is a hot spot for some really cool winemaking.

https://www.ellisonestatevineyard.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Tom Plocher - How to Breed Grapevines

Tom Plocher - How to Breed Grapevines

August 14, 2022

My guest for this episode is Tom Plocher. Tom has been growing and breeding grapevines and making wine from them since 1980. He was a longtime friend and mentee of Elmer Swenson, and lives and grows grapes in Minnesota just north of the Twin Cities.

Tom has bred several varieties of grapes that are patented and available for sale out in the world… and you’ve heard about at least one of them – Petite Pearl – if you listened to the recent episode with Montpellier Vineyards in Vermont. In this interview Tom gives detailed instructions about how to breed grapevines, with some great tips and an in-depth sense of what is involved.

While Tom isn’t focused on breeding for resistance to mildew or pests, what he’s doing and what he teaches us in this episode may be some of the most valuable information ever shared on this podcast. Because learning to breed grapevines is what will make it possible to adapt to the rapidly changing climate and find a delicious future for wine that doesn’t require the unsustainable use of chemical sprays that make environmental degradation worse. Tom literally shows us the path to the future of wine, and that it’s something you can do with some intelligence, patience, and care on your own, without a lot of land.

Here’s a fun fact: The time it takes to research, develop, test, and get approvals of a new chemical pesticide is about 10 years. The time it takes to breed, grow, prove out and patent a new variety of grapevine that could have any number of beneficial traits – including a diminished need for new pesticides – is about 10 years.

Forget the fact that the development of the pesticide took millions of dollars too, and that breeding the grape just took time and some knowledge and practice. Imagine if all of us who grow vineyards also began collecting, crossing, and breeding new vines. Imagine where we’d be if we’d channeled our resources over the last 80 years into this approach to resilience and vitality in our vineyards, rather than trying to prop up a handful of increasingly more feeble grapevines with the ongoing development of chemicals that degrade our environment and make climate change and human health worse.  

Think of how much further along we’d be to having real solutions to viticultural challenges by looking in the vines themselves. It is both possible and 100% achievable to have delicious wine made from grapes that never need to be sprayed with anything and thrive in the extreme climate that will be our future. But not as long as we fetishized and clone the same vines over and over again.

If we take the knowledge that Tom gives us here and apply it to the California wine industry, we could have a continually renewing, regenerating, and improving cycle of increasing health and flavor in our wine and our world, rather than this downward spiral we’re on that has an expiration date.

The only thing standing in our way, I believe, is prejudice. We’ve created a hierarchy in which a few types of grapes, and only those few select grapes, can make great wine. That hierarchy is bullshit. All grapes are hybrids.  

I hope you’ll join with me in normalizing the idea that wine is not made from a few European grapes but from an ongoing process of adaptation, innovation, experimentation, and inclusion. If you do, I think the future of wine can be exciting. It can be diverse. It can be delicious.

In this interview, Tom gives us the tools to get there.

https://www.plochervines.com/

Sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

Diana Snowden Seysses - Climate Change, Carbon, and Bi-Continental Winemaking

Diana Snowden Seysses - Climate Change, Carbon, and Bi-Continental Winemaking

August 8, 2022

My guest for this episode is Diana Snowden Seysses. Diana studied Viticulture & Enology at UC Davis, and went on to work in both California and French cellars with Robert Mondavi Winery, Mumm Napa, the Araujo Estate, Château La Fleur de Boüard, Domaine Leflaive and Ramey Wine Cellars. And also for the last 20 years, Diana has been an enologist and part of the family at Domaine Dujac in Burgundy, and consultant at Domaine de Triennes in Provence; and she is also winemaker at Snowden Vineyards in Napa. 

In addition to this enviable resume of incredible winemaking experience, Diana is one of the leading experts on carbon capture and reuse in the wine industry, and strategies for reducing the massive carbon impact of glass wine bottles. So, while I would have loved to spend this hour asking her about making wine in Burgundy, those questions took a back seat to discussing the urgent story she discovered there.

Because it was Diana’s experience of working with the natural world and tracking data in Burgundy that led her to the inescapable reality of the urgency and severity of climate change and altered the direction of what she is doing with wine.

It should come across rather quickly that Diana is a brilliant mind and bright spirit. So it makes the things that she says about the reality we’re facing all the more forceful, and, frankly, sobering. We talk very openly about the challenges of maintaining mental health and keeping courage in the face of what we know.

When I started this podcast I said I wanted it to bring hope. In a very real way, this interview with Diana is about moving beyond hope that things will get better, and yet finding the strength to continue to do the work that our planet needs us to do anyway. I personally find the inspiration for this strength in the natural world itself, in everyone I get to interview for this podcast, and in every one of you who listens. I’m extremely grateful for you, and please don’t underestimate the influence you can have on each other’s spirits and lives.

I recently came across this quote by Howard Zinn:

"The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

I hope you find Diana’s defiance as inspiring as I did.

http://www.dujac.com/en/the-domain

https://www.snowdenvineyards.com/

https://www.portoprotocol.com/

sponsor:

https://www.centralaswine.com/

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