Martín Reyes, MW 0:00
There’s many things that people can argue about. But, you know, you know what’s risky about arguing about climate change?
Katherine Cole 0:05
Martín Reyes, MW 0:06
It always turns into a heated debate.
Katherine Cole 0:18
Well, hello, and welcome to The Four Top. It’s a roundtable discussion of today’s hot button topics in the wine world. I am your host, Katherine Cole.
Martín Reyes, MW 0:27
And I’m your host, Martín Reyes, Master of Wine. And we’re drawing to the close of our sustainability season here at The Four Top, which means it’s time to discuss the sixth pillar, Katherine, and that is climate action and regenerative agriculture.
Katherine Cole 0:44
Yes, this is it. We’re rounding out the season with this sixth pillar. And I’m really curious to get into this conversation. And I think some of our listeners may have heard this buzz phrase regenerative agriculture and wondered what it means, exactly. So I’m interested to hear more about this, and why it’s part of the sixth pillar and why it’s part of the huge overriding topic of climate action. There’s a lot to talk about today.
Martín Reyes, MW 1:08
Yeah, you know, Katherine, as we’ve gone through the five previous pillars, you know, water energy, waste management, DEI, social justice, I think that the key here is that we understand the systemic nature of sustainability. And they are deeply interrelated; the pillars are. And that’s, that’s what really the message is about the sixth pillar.
Katherine Cole 1:28
Oh, I can’t wait to get into that. Why don’t we re-introduce our guests from the intro episode of the sustainability season: Anna Brittain, who’s joining us to close out the season. She is a leader in environmental management and policy who has worked as a sustainability consultant for many organizations including Ontario Craft Wineries, Sustainable Winegrowing: British Columbia, Crimson Wine Group, and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. She’s currently the Executive Director of Napa Green and co-founder along with this guy right here Martín of Napa RISE. Anna, it’s so lovely to see you again.
Thank you so much for having me back and for doing this sustainability series.
Martín Reyes, MW 2:09
Welcome back, Anna. And we’re also joined by the world famous Dr. Jamie Goode. Jamie is the author of five books on wine, including most relevantly and most recently, the book on regenerative viticulture. He is a wine columnist for The Sunday Express in the UK, and a contributor to a number of wine publications, and regular international wine judge and lecturer. Jamie, welcome.
Dr. Jamie Goode 2:31
Thank you. It’s great to be here. Looking forward to this discussion.
Katherine Cole 2:34
Yeah, thanks for joining us, in the evening, your time we really appreciate it, Jamie and we want to pose the first question of the day to you because we know you put years of research and writing into the book, Regenerative Viticulture, which listeners you should run out and buy immediately. So we are going to ask you to do the impossible and define what is regenerative viticulture, and can you do it really quickly? Ready, set, go.
Dr. Jamie Goode 2:58
The clue is in the name: regenerative. Means that one of the goals of regenerative viticulture is restoring life to the soil so regenerating the life of the soils. More specifically, it’s the application of a branch of science called agroecology. So it’s seeing the vineyard as an ecosystem. And you want to get this ecosystem working, so that the ecosystem does the job that currently in more conventional viticulture, the inputs are doing. So you’re reducing inputs, you’re increasing resilience, and you’re increasing biodiversity. And you’re creating an ecosystem that works not just above the ground, but also below the ground.
Katherine Cole 3:35
And I’d love to jump in as well with a little more on the definition. Just because I feel like regeneration, regenerative vitivulture has become like the latest kind of a little bit of an eye roll, similar to how sustainability has been over the years of, “oh, it’s the latest term. You know, what’s the real substance behind it?” So I thought I would just share some of the kind of grounded examples of what we work with grower members on, which is these kind of win win win practices like compost and cover crops and reduce tractor passes and reduce the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, which we’ll talk more about, and bringing animals into the vineyard that do all these great things, increase water and nutrient retention and increase the happy microbes in the soil and the soil organic matter. Importantly, as Jamie was just saying, make the vines more resilient to disease and drought and heat stress, but also store more carbon in the soil, which is both good for the soil, but it’s also a really proactive role that farmers can play in climate change mitigation. And that relates to our climate action and regenerative ag conversation. So I wanted to throw that in there.
So Anna, what would you say to a vineyard owner who says, “oh, I just got my Napa Green certification? Do I have to go get a regenerative farming certification, too?” You know, I just heard that a vineyard in Oregon, Troon Vineyard is the second vineyard in the world, fourth farm overall, to receive the Regenerative Organic Alliances certified gold designation. And I’m just wondering, what do you say to folks who are asking about are there? Is this another certification I have to get?
That’s a timely question. So we actually have a number of members that are pursuing both. And I was actually just giving a presentation with the head of the Regenerative Organic Certification. I was just talking about, you know, some of the ways we’re similar and different in many ways. There’s many synergies, we have a prohibited and restricted pesticide list. And we also have a gold level that acknowledges members who are herbicide and neonicotinoid. Free say that 10 times fast. But we don’t require organic. So that’s kind of one difference from regenerative organic, I think there’s some some ways we go a little bit deeper, like around the social justice, diversity and inclusion. And I think there’s some areas like animals in the vineyard that, or in the farm, that they go a little bit deeper. So in many ways, there’s a lot of compliments, and most of our members don’t feel that they need both. But we do have a couple of pursuing it. And I’m curious to hear their feedback on the on the comparison between the two.
Interesting. And, Jamie, you kind of have the big picture. You’ve written this book, you’re seeing seeing vineyards all over the world. I’m wondering, how widely is regenerative viticulture practiced worldwide? Is this something people are talking about, you know, in South Africa, in regions that are far flung from from here in the United States?
Dr. Jamie Goode 6:28
Well, I’ve seen quite lots of interest in various aspects of regenerative agriculture. In France, for instance, it’s been taken pretty seriously, even by big companies, which is really encouraging. I’ve also seen quite a lot of interest in it in South Africa. You see some of these things that are being, that are part of the regenerative toolkit are being applied already in forward thinking wine regions, where viticulturists are doing good things. I mean, that the scientific basis behind regenerative farming is isn’t anything particularly new. It’s just what’s new is that these have all been brought together under this banner of regenerative which gives a sort of coherent thought process to to thinking about how to farm. I would say that the thing I think that’s most important about regenerative viticulture is that we don’t end up with a recipe. I think some other farming systems, you’ve got a recipe with which has been applied worldwide, in very different situations. And I think this is the thing about viticulture is when you travel, you’ll see that different regions have got very different challenges, very different opportunities. And to create a recipe or as a checklist of things that should be done by anybody who wants to farm regeneratively, I think would be a mistake, I think instead should be offering people a toolkit of sort of regenerative approaches like cover cropping like composting, like agroforestry, like incorporating animals in the vineyard, you know, all these sorts of things that are ways of producing a Vinyard that’s far more sustainable, truly sustainable in the long run, and then letting people use their intelligence and their local knowledge of the situation they’re in to then apply elements of this toolkit. And so in some ways, you know, if we’re going to talk about certifying regenerative rather than a checklist and the point scoring, you know, for each thing you do, I think, would be much better to, to look at the performance, you know, what improvement has there been? Where did it start? And where is it now, and that would involve, I guess, having some reliable metrics that could could assess, you know, how regenerative a vineyard is.
Martín Reyes, MW 8:42
For the listener, who comes at this with having just learned the buzzwords of organic viticulture and biodynamics and natural and then there is this new term that we’re talking about. Where does everything else fit in? And I appreciate what Jamie said about how he framed it as far as there are certain recipes. And then there’s a more of a holistic view that doesn’t necessarily have a prescriptive model. I think what’s, what’s interesting is to ask the question, how does it all fit the umbrella of the term regenerative agriculture?
Katherine Cole 9:15
When I think about regeneration, it’s about regenerating the soil and also regenerating the climate. And so there’s a really strong emphasis, as Jamie was just saying, on on the soil health and as he was saying, monitoring and really keeping track of what’s happening on the ground and in the ground. So really looking at the organic matter and the carbon in the soil, and that’s something that we work with our members to do. So it’s all about those healthy soils. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be organic or biodynamic. I think many people have that synergy who are practicing regenerative agriculture, but it doesn’t necessarily have to have to have that element of certification. And I think Jamie agrees. So Jamie share more.
Anna Brittain 10:04
Yeah, I think organics and biodynamics gets you kind of a good distance along the journey to being more regenerative because one of the emphases in both these farming systems is on soil health. So there’s a really, really good start. And I think that, you know, across the wine world, there’s lots of biodynamic wine growers who I visited who are doing a really good job in the vineyard. Where does regenerative fit in in that sense? Well, I think one of the things is that often in organic and biodynamic farming, obviously no herbicides are allowed. And it’s very common to use tillage, you know, whether it’s a tractor or horse or whatever, to turn the soil over, and regenerative approaches, kind of that seemed, you know, you kind of undoing some of the good work you do when you do this because it’s really not very good for soil health. And the other thing is that in organics and biodynamics because vitis vinifera, which is the species of winegrape that gives us all the varieties we know and love lacks resistance genes to powdery and downy mildew. Then some sort of chemical sprays are needed in organics and biodynamics elemental sulfur, and copper based fungicides like Bordeaux mixture are used. And the copper ones are the problem because to fight downy mildew is very, very difficult if you live in climates where there’s any sort of moisture around to keep a lid on downy mildew without using copper based fungicides. And copper is really bad for soil life. So you’ve got this sort of problem there that needs addressing, and in regenerative agriculture, I think it’s maybe a mistake to tie certification with organics, because that then restricts the pool of the number of people who are willing to do it or able to do it. And the thing I like about regenerative approaches is this is something that big companies can put in place. This is something people with hundreds of hectares of vineyards can start implementing, and can start, you know, conserving the life in the soil encouraging the life of the soil without committing to using fungicides that are contact fungicides have to be re sprayed every time it rains have limited efficacy, and also which contain copper, which is not good for soil health. So it’s about taking a holistic view, it’s about taking a look at the vineyard and saying given the conditions we’re in, what’s the best way we can farm? And what’s the readout? And clearly one of the the readouts is you want a really good crop of healthy grapes of good quality of the sort of quality, that appropriate to the wines that you’re making? That’s a non negotiable. But after that, you can say, well, well, let’s look at what we’re doing in our soils, you know, how are they improving? What’s the soil life like there? You know, and, you know, the vineyard itself? Are we reducing the inputs we put in by the approaches that we’re taking in our vin, in the vineyard? And so I think those are really interesting questions.
Katherine Cole 13:02
Jamie and Anna, I think many of us have regenerative agriculture, and no till kind of wound up in our minds together. And Jamie, you mentioned turning over the soil and how important it is to keep that carbon in the soil. I know you said it’s not prescriptive, but would you say that no till is kind of a basic requirement of being a regenerative farmer? Or what’s the role of the of the no till movement?
Dr. Jamie Goode 13:25
Well, personally, I think you want to avoid tillage as much as possible. But in some situations, I’m was just speaking to Steve Matthiasson who’s a really good wine grower in Napa in California. And Steve was saying that, you know, they’ve tried regenerative approaches, you know, and they’ve tried no till, but simply doesn’t work in their situation, because one of the problems they’ve got is gophers, you know, these little rodents that if you don’t tell in the vine row itself at all, they become a huge problem in the vineyards. And so, you know, you’re faced with the prospect of losing half your vines, or doing a bit of tillage, they’re doing a bit of tillage. And they’re also doing that, because they find that some situations the competition for water is a little too extreme in very dry seasons in their place. So they do a little bit of tillage. But Steve says he’s also looking at the soil, carbon, and he’s saying that yeah, maybe you lose a little bit. But actually, their approach was a very thoughtful approach. It’s regenerative, and pretty much every way apart from that limited tillage is resulting in a gain in soil carbon, year by year. So in some ways, you want to encourage people to follow regenerative practices, but to ultimately there has to be leeway there otherwise, simply you wouldn’t be able to do it in some places.
Katherine Cole 14:39
Yeah, I really appreciate that you asked that question, Katherine, because that’s a question we get a lot and we don’t require that our grower members practice no tillage. So Jamie and I are very aligned on this. But we do really encourage what’s called conservation tillage or reduce tillage, you know, maybe just every other row or just reducing the number of passes and and there’s a lot of benefits to that, you know, even if you aren’t going all the way to no till as, as Jamie was just saying, for Steve, who I’ve also talked to about the tillage issue. So yeah, it’s a it’s an important distinction.
Dr. Jamie Goode 15:12
Yeah. And I think that it’s all about, you know, getting things growing in the vineyards. Biodiversity is one of the keys to regenerative approaches, you know, the more life you can bring into the system, the more resilient the ecosystem is, and the more sort of ecosystem services you get that reduce the inputs, but sometimes it requires a bit of bravery. Because you’ve got to these these things, you have almost paradoxes you have to balance. And so if you’re in a dry Mediterranean climate, water is obviously at a premium at certain points in the year. But at the same time, if you don’t have anything growing there, then the soil structure suffers. And when when the rain does come, it doesn’t infiltrate the soil very well. And obviously, we also know that soil organic material is really good at holding water, I think Mimi Casteel said recently that improving the soil, organic carbon by 1% resulted in an acre being able to hold 68,000 litres more water. If you can get soil organic material in place, then when you get the water into the soil, it’s going to stick around a bit longer, and be more accessible to the plants. Wow. So it’s it’s quite this contrast, you know, you’ve got this contrast between Yeah, you don’t want competition with the vines at certain points of the year, because it’s a very arid climate. But at the same time, if you don’t have other stuff growing there, the soil structure isn’t going to be conducive to infiltration by rain when it does occur. And you won’t have much to hold the water in the soil at that point. So it’s it’s it does require a bit of courage and a bit of experimentation. I think.
Katherine Cole 16:47
I just wanted to quickly mention that Mimi Casteel is an outspoken proponent of regenerative agriculture. And she is based here in the Willamette Valley and she is from the Bethel Heights family. Just in case people want to look her up and all her amazing work.
Yeah, so I just have to jump in and say how happy we were to have had Mimi Casteel with us at the RISE Climate and Wine Symposium on April 13. That was our event focused on proactive farming and soil health and biodiversity and yes, she is such a champion so great to have her involved.
Martín Reyes, MW 17:16
You know, and Jamie, your your your example, using Mimi, Mimi’s analysis of how much water retention increases in the soil underscores the interrelated aspect of systemic climate action and sustainability, right. We we could talk about the the water pillar of water efficiency and water conservation. And when we talk about soil health that increases the retention of of water and reduces reduces that impact. You mentioned, Jamie the word recipe right? Where there’s a prescriptive yes and no a binary do this, or don’t do that nature of some of the practices, viticulture practices, organic, biodynamic, whereas regenerative farming may be seen as goal oriented, instead of recipe oriented.
Dr. Jamie Goode 18:02
That’s a very good summary. I think, you know, I’d encourage anybody who’s producing a sort of a certification program to think about looking at some sort of results oriented certification rather than process oriented certification.
Katherine Cole 18:17
That is exactly what we do. I love it. We’re looking at the results. So we let people pick and choose from the kind of toolkit as you mentioned, the recipe book and then track the results on the ground. So yes, absolutely agree.
Dr. Jamie Goode 18:30
I think that’s very empowering for wine growers as well, you know, it’s actually treating them as, as partners in this process, rather than, you know, recipe followers, then it’s then it gives people creative options to, to kind of look and see what they do and try things that they think well, this might actually help, you know?
Katherine Cole 18:49
You know, what’s great about this, too, is so much of what we’re trying to do right now as we’re facing this climate disaster is not harm the earth and even in the very term regenerative the goal of regenerative agriculture is to heal the earth to leave it healthier than it was when we started. And I love the positivity of that mission.
Martín Reyes, MW 19:09
Excellent. So, Anna, moving on, this will be the final installment in our series of special episodes on the six pillars of sustainability established and created, I should say by you, that concept of the six pillars. So we’ve been meaning to ask, why did you choose to group climate action together with regenerative agriculture? Why connect those two?
Katherine Cole 19:36
Yeah, great, great question. In some ways, you know, it shouldn’t be in fact, it is regenerative agriculture is tied into the pillar of proactive farming and soil health and biodiversity very deeply. But we also wanted to explicitly connect it to climate action. Because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has named these nature based solutions including regenerative carbon farming as one of the top five ways to address the climate crisis. So these types of practices have all these benefits that we’ve been talking about in terms of resilience to disease and drought and heat stress and water infiltration and retention, but also store carbon. It’s this proactive role, as I said that farmers can play and being a part of the solution. And so that’s just it’s so critical. These regenerative practices are so critical to addressing the climate crisis that we really wanted to explicitly connect the two topics even though as you said, all five of the preceding pillars roll into climate action and help reduce the carbon footprint. But regenerative agriculture is particularly important to bring to the top.
That makes perfect sense. You just reminded me Anna, of the wonderful biologist and author Anne Biklé, based in Seattle. I got to know her work through L.I.V.E. the Low Input Viticulture and Enology organization here in Oregon. And I was just listening to an interview with her, and she just has such a great way of framing things. She said, I’m not quoting directly but something along the lines of carbon is life in the soil and death in the air. And that to me tied together, okay, regenerative agriculture, putting that carbon into the soil and creating life from it. You know, there’s, there’s a fixed amount of carbon on this earth, let’s put it back in the soil instead of releasing in the air.
I love that I hadn’t heard that quote before, I’m gonna use that.
She’s very quotable.
Martín Reyes, MW 21:35
Hey, Anna, How tired are you of getting the glyphosate question?
Katherine Cole 21:39
Yeah, I could talk for a whole episode about that. I’m pretty tired. I think one of the issues there. So glyphosate is Roundup. For those who don’t know that is it’s it’s just one herbicide. It’s absolutely the most prolific herbicide. Is it an herbicide I wish were illegal? Absolutely. But I think there’s a lack of understanding that there’s a whole group of herbicides available to growers. And so if you just say, let’s get rid of Roundup, most many, let’s say growers are just shifting to another herbicide, and that has its own risks and its own problems. And I think the other issue there for me, and I use this term, kind of, we’re missing the climate for the weeds a little bit, you know, we are in a climate crisis, we have to act so quickly to make change, Jamie made the same point. And if you tie it to requiring organic, it limits the number of people at the table, and we need as many people at the table as possible, moving as quickly as possible. And pesticides and herbicides are just one small piece of the overall picture. I mean, our vineyard program has six elements. And that’s including, you know, water and forest health and carbon farming and how you handle your your burning of your wood waste, and you’re in your forest tree waste and social justice and diversity and inclusion. So there’s so many other holistic systematic elements that we need to be thinking about. And I just feel like we get overly myopic when we’re just focusing on the roundup question.
Dr. Jamie Goode 23:16
Yeah, as a scientist, it really frustrates me the way people have approached glyphosate because glyphosate is harmless. We don’t have the chemical pathways in our bodies that glyphosate attacks, the shikimate pathway. So you know, glyphosate is not a dangerous herbicide, it’s actually quite safe. But it is a herbicide. And let me clarify that a little bit. What I’m saying is that I don’t like glyphosate because I don’t like herbicides, because it takes the use of herbicides removes things growing in the vineyard. And when you don’t have things growing in the vineyard, you don’t have life in the soils, and you lose soil structure, you get compaction, and also, glyphosate acts as a collator, as well. So it actually affects that the nutrition the vine receives. So I think we should avoid herbicides full stop. And but I think that the current dialogue is based on ignorance where people think glyphosate is actually really dangerous. It’s actually much better than the alternative herbicides, it’s the least bad option when it comes to herbicides. And if people banned glyphosate, then all the growers will do is they’ll just use other herbicides. And I’ve even heard organic growers talking about using organic herbicides and I think this is completely wrong minded. It’s the killing things killing the plants that grow in the soil other than the vines, that leads to the loss of life in the soils. So that’s kind of something that frustrates me a little bit because it’s very unscientific, the dialogue and it’s very emotional. It’s based on a lot of ignorance and unwillingness to actually investigate the issues, to see what what they are. And so I’d also say that, you know, I went to a conference in Aulan, France and Nigel Greening made a really interesting contribution. He said that climate chaos, you know, global warming is like a heart attack, you deal with a heart attack, you don’t stand around giving people advice about their diet, and you know, you shouldn’t smoke, you shouldn’t drink so much, you know, you deal with a heart attack. And that’s what we have to do with the climate crisis. Sustainability can come later in the fact, that’s the emergency that faces us. So we need to do all we can, in the face of climate chaos, to try and do something about this, this heart attack that the world is facing, the other stuff can come later. First of all, you save the patient. And I think in terms of regenerative farming, I think that sometimes you could say, well, actually, given the resources that are involved, and obviously an element of sustainability is financial sustainability, and maybe one use of glyphosate a year, and then, you know, allowing other things to grow in the vine row. And, you know, working in a more organic way, could be the best way for that particular situation. You just don’t know. It’s I think so…rolling things out completely, I think may actually hinder people making the sort of progress they need to make. And the other thing I’d say is, it’s all very well, if you know, there’s 90 hectares in the USA that are farmed beautifully and perfectly. But really what we want is we want hundreds of 1000s of hectares farmed in a better way than their farm. Now, that’s the real gold, because it’s about everyone doing it, not just a few.
Anna Brittain 26:34
Katherine Cole 26:35
I appreciate your message, Jamie. But I want to make sure that listeners don’t just start applying roundup without wearing a mask. When you said it’s not toxic, you mean if it’s applied to the soil properly. Once you ingest the wine or the end product, it’s not toxic. But obviously direct contact with glyphosate is dangerous.
Dr. Jamie Goode 26:54
No, no, it’s this this is this is actually something I’d contest because it’s obviously you want to be careful with anything you’re spraying on a vineyard, but the active ingredient in glyphosate, you can drink the stuff, it’s not going to touch you. If there’s other stuff added to the Roundup or the other brands of it, so there’s often things added as well, as well as the actual active molecule, but the actual actual actual molecule it attacked, it targets a pathway that humans and mammals don’t have. So it’s not going to hurt you.
Katherine Cole 27:23
I mean, I think I think we might have to agree to disagree on this one, I think just from from the science I’ve reviewed, I do think that really sustained exposure to glyphosate has been shown to create health risks. But I do think that most growers are applying this very safely. And in that case, you know, as you were saying, Katherine, there isn’t a risk as it as it ends, you know, ends up in any way in the wine.
Martín Reyes, MW 27:50
It is a powerfully ensconced word, both Roundup and glyphosate in the collective consciousness of people that pay attention to the stuff, right. And there’s science beyond over my head and not over Dr. Jamie Goode’s head, but that it’s a powerful….There’s heated debate around this elimination pathways, all that kind of stuff. And the the unfortunate bit about this is that whatever side you stand on, around the subject, it tends to dominate and obscure the rest of the important conversations, the heart attack that Jamie just mentioned, you know, it’s in terms of priorities. The glyphosate conversation isn’t the top of the priority, it is the decarbonisation of our world. That is the heart attack that Jamie’s talking about. When we consider with Napa Green, as as some of you may know, I’m on the board for Napa Green, when we consider the glyphosate and roundup issue, it wakes up all kinds of emotional opinions about the subject. Some people are like, Oh, my gosh, finally, thank you, that’s the most important thing. Now now I can support Napa Green. And other people are like, um, you know, the reality is that we kind of have to use it once or twice a year to apply to to sustain our business. Whereas we’re focusing on other things, things like reducing our glass weight, taking less business trips, right, we’re increasing our water or energy efficiencies. And that’s really where I see the conversation taking place, the systemic nature of this, which is why this is the sixth pillar.
Katherine Cole 29:26
Yeah, another way we talk about it is this: you want to focus on what you do want to do. The things we do want to do to encourage life and diversity and taking action and not focus so much on the don’t do, right, the the things that we don’t want to do. Let’s focus on the do the positive, the action, the getting getting in motion, I think is very critical.
Dr. Jamie Goode 29:47
Yeah, and on that line, I’d say that problem with herbicides, it really is that, you know, it’s hard to achieve the goals of having more life when you use herbicides. I mean, if you can use herbicides, and you can show an increase in your soil organic material and your soil structure and you can avoid compaction and you could you know, all these things, then go ahead and use them. It’s that the issue is that that it’s very hard to reach your regenerative goals when you’re not allowing anything to grow in the soil, and the knock on effects of not having plant roots in the soil, are massive and plants released between 10 and 40% of their photosynthesis into the soil. They’re doing it for a very good reason, because they’re encouraging the soil life. They’re encouraging microbial growth. They’re encouraging all these things that create a living soil that then does all these wonderful ecosystem services for the Vinyard.
Katherine Cole 30:40
Well, I think we’re almost ready to wrap and I’m just wondering, Anna and Jamie, if you have any kind of final takeaways you want to leave our listeners with as we close out this season on sustainability, especially on this note of climate action.
We do hear a lot of the like, oh, yeah, there’s a lot of bigger growers or larger companies that can afford to do this. But can the smaller growers or smaller vintners or winemakers really afford to do this? And so I have to always jump in on that question around how many actual opportunities there are. And I know I’ve shared this earlier, to actually cut the bottom line, Jamie referred to that that economic sustainability element to actually save money as you’re improving energy efficiency as you’re improving water efficiency, which reduces the energy used to transport heat and treat that water as you’re reducing waste and waste management pickups. There’s all kinds of financial benefits as you’re lightening glass and then often reducing shipments and reducing costs. And I think the other thing that we have to really talk more and more about is that connection between sustainability and regenerative agriculture and quality, and the quality of the fruit and the quality of the wine that is coming from these practices. And I’ve seen so many growers, one that comes to mind, Julie Johnson at Tres Sabores, very small operation that sees so many quality benefits from having invested in these practices. So that’s another important point I want to make.
Dr. Jamie Goode 32:13
And I’d say two things. First, I’d say that people have to work in vineyards and it must be so much more pleasurable working in a vineyard where there’s lots of life, where it really is an ecosystem that’s buzzing with energy with life with insects with plants. So that I think that’s really exciting. And secondly, I really am so enthused about regenerative viticulture, because its basis is science. Its basis is really good science applied in intelligent ways. And it’s just that in the past, our scientific understanding of viticulture was very limited. But now I think we’re beginning to see with the, you know, this increasing awareness of the importance of soil life, and the interactions between different organisms within an ecosystem like a vinyard. We’re beginning to see the the real science and I think that’s great because this makes regenerative really accessible to everyone. You don’t have to believe in a certain you know, unusual belief. You don’t have to sign up to do something that stretches credulity, you can actually be scientifically rational and adopt this and measure the progress that you’re making along the way.
Katherine Cole 33:26
Love that. Thank you both Anna and Jamie, I’m super excited about the direction that viticulture is going in. And thank you for spreading the word about regenerative agriculture. And now it is time for our figurative dessert course or figurative dessert wine in which we just share something wonderful that we’ve been enjoying recently. Anna, what did you bring for us?
Mine is absolutely wine related, which is that I have fallen absolutely in love with Croatia. Anyone who hasn’t gone to Croatia you need to go. I’ve been four times, I’m going my fifth time this May, which I’m very excited about. And their wine regions are absolutely gorgeous. And they have some beautiful wines. Of course, malvasia is the main one people might have heard of, but they’ve got some beautiful sparkling wines and even some pinot up in the hillside. So it’s a place I recommend, purchase your carbon offsets for the flight. But do go to Croatia. I love it.
Martín Reyes, MW 33:49
Katherine Cole 33:52
If you need a travel buddy, I’m there for you, Anna.
Martín Reyes, MW 34:30
Jamie, what is what is your figurative dessert course.
Dr. Jamie Goode 34:34
With me and my my work and also when I drink for pleasure as well. I often go through seasons where I’m looking at one particular country or one style of wine or a grape variety. And the moment I’m on a sort of a bit of a Greek Odyssey. So I was in Greece a couple of weeks ago at a big wine fair called Oenorama and did some touring around some vineyards. And for the last you know for this period, I’m just kind of on the lookout for chances to try Greek wines because they’re really interesting. And there’s obviously a long history of, of wine in Greece. There’s also a set of indigenous grape varieties I really love so Xinomavro, and Assyrtiko, Agiorgitiko. And, and my pronunciation is really terrible, I think on some of these. And Rhoditis, things like that, you know. So I’m just really enjoying exploring a field that I hadn’t explored in great detail before, and both as a professional in terms of going to tastings, but also, as a consumer, just going to the bottle shop and finding a bottle or in a restaurant seeing a Greek wine on the list and giving it a crack. It’s really rewarding. So Greek for me at the moment.
Martín Reyes, MW 35:42
Jamie, I’m thrilled that you’ve mentioned that because we met recently at the NLA with the Perfectly Imperfect wines and you brought out Lopez Heredia, as an example, the white, something that we import in California, and we have a juicy selection of Greek wines that that I’m starting to get into as an importer. we from from Naousa, we got Diamantakos, Karanika, Zoinos, Tetramythos, Monemvasia, Paterianakis from the Crete islands, and hearing you talk about talking about them this way, Vaeni even, at my, my pronunciation is even even worse than yours, don’t worry about that. And I try to bring them in business wise. That’s music to my ears to hear to hear that. And I think to also mention to our listeners, give uh Greek wines a chance just for the reasons that Jamie just mentioned.
Dr. Jamie Goode 36:31
Anna Brittain 36:32
Let’s all get together in person and have a Xinomavro, which I’m sure I’m saying wrong, but beautiful wine.
Martín Reyes, MW 36:36
Excellent. All right, so my desert course. You know, there’s, there’s there’s a lot of evils and problems with Instagram. But there is there’s some positives too. And I started to follow this gentleman who is Creative Explained. And it’s a gentleman that that is putting out these really cool tips. He shows you how to save the parts of vegetables or produce that you normally throw out and either grow, regrow them, or salvage them or or repurpose them. And he has a book called Don’t Throw it Out. And it’s plant hacks, kitchen hacks, tips and tricks. And one of my favorite things I learned about recently is how you use your, your coffee grounds, put them into some water, throw some cinnamon in, and then you’re…and then you have this natural plant fertilizer with a bunch of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus. And it’s fascinating just how much we can extend the life of the things that we consume or reduce the amount of waste if we learn a little bit of these tips, tips and tricks. So to me, Creative Explained, is someone we’re following if you care about this kind of stuff.
Katherine Cole 37:53
Oh, that sounds wonderful. I’m going to check that out. Thanks, McLean. Yeah, of course. And for my dessert, I have been enjoying the series Getting Warmer with Kal Penn, the actor and comedian Kal Penn. I think he’s best known as Kumar in the Harold and Kumar Movies. But he actually took a break from acting to work as a staffer in the Obama administration, and is really smart about policy and issues and has this series. I found it on the Bloomberg website. And it’s a terrific overview of the climate crisis. But you know, Kal Penn, is also a comedian. And so he just has a really kind of wonderful way of delivering the message. He also talks about innovative solutions that are being developed right now. So it’s not all gloom and doom. And one, one moment in the series that really stuck with me is this company called SkyCool Systems that has developed air conditioning that does not require electricity. And the founders were inspired by something called a yakhchāl, I’m probably going to pronounce that wrong, I probably did pronounce that wrong, which is a 2000 year old method of making ice in the desert and storing it indefinitely, basically just harnessing the Earth’s natural night cooling effects. So it sort of drove home to me the point that all the resources we need to fight this climate issue are right here in front of us. And it just takes some some smart minds and some ingenuity. And I think we can do this. We really can. So thank you, guests, listeners, you can read about our guest, Dr. Jamie Goode and read his extremely influential wine blog at wineanorak.com. And by the way, Jamie, for those of us who are American, what is an anorak?
Dr. Jamie Goode 39:37
So an anorak is an outer garment, a coat, usually quite a big coat with a hood. So the anoraks became notorious because people used to have this strange hobby in the UK of going to stations, this is in the days when they still had steam trains, you know, and then people will go to the stations, especially the busy ones like Crewe or something like that. And they’d watch all the trains come past, they’d take their numbers in their notebooks. So these trainspotters became known as anoraks because frequently they’d be wearing the anorak has their garment of choice. And so in, in popular sort of parlance in the UK, we use the term anorak for anyone who’s got a nerdy, geeky interest in something. And so it’s a sort of form of self parody. I came across the term, you know, wine anorak when I was doing a tasting for consumers years and years ago, and I was just starting out and one woman said to me, You know what you are, and I said, what she said, You’re a wine anorak. I thought that was an idea, but I didn’t think at all about the fact that everyone else must think what on earth is this website so…
Katherine Cole 40:39
I just always assumed it was I had this vision of you with your big coat on walking through a rainy cold vineyard, but this is much better. I love this. Thanks for sharing the story.
Martín Reyes, MW 40:48
And for our listeners is spelled anorak, a n o r a k. So wineanorak.com. And you can read about Anna Brittain’s work at napagreen.org and the symposium that occurred in April, Napa RISE, the website there’s risegreen.org, which I co founded with Anna. But also a shout out to the rest of our founding coalition, the committee there, Dan Petroski, Beth Novak Milliken and Molly Shepherd at Spottswoode, Michelle Novi, Tod Mostero at Dominus, and a whole host of people that helped us put that, that symposium together two years in a row, we’ll see where the next, what the future brings. And if you want to learn more about me, Martín Reyes, you can also check out winewise.biz.
Katherine Cole 41:42
Yes, and you can find out about me at katherinecole.com. But why would you do that when you can go to the fourtop.org. Find our social media handles, get in touch with us. Let us know what you thought of this episode in this series. And also please please please support The Four Top by leaving us a rating on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
Martín Reyes, MW 42:03
Signing out from Napa adjacent small seaside village town Benicia. Thanks so much for listening everyone.
Katherine Cole 42:11
And signing out from the increasingly regeneratively farmed Willamette Valley. Thanks, everyone. It’s been wonderful to talk about sustainability this season. So thanks for tuning in.
Kielen King 42:21
This has been The Four Top podcast. Katherine Cole is our executive producer, Nick Toole is our producer, and I’m Kielen King, sound supervisor. We are also assisted by audio editor Michelle Richards, Media and Design Manager Ruby Welkovich and Sales Director Kristin Castagna. Please visit our website thefourtop.org, to learn more about us, listen to back episodes, and purchase books written by our amazing panelists. If you have not already subscribed to The Four Top on iTunes or Spotify, please do so. And please leave us a rating. Every rating feeds the algorithm and helps new listeners find The Four Top. Stay safe out there, and thanks for listening.