Organic Wine Podcast



Organic Wine is the gateway to explore the entire wine industry - from soil to sommeliers - from a revolutionary perspective. Deep interviews discussing big ideas with some of the most important people on the cutting edge of the regenerative renaissance, about where wine comes from and where it is going.

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121 episodes

Xaime Niembro - Vinos Barrigones

My guest for this episode is Xaime Niembro, of Vinos Barrigones. Vinos Barrigones translates to “Paunchy Wines” in English, though Google will translate it to “Pot-bellied wines.” And you’ll hear Xaime’s hilarious story of how the name Barrigon became the name for their wines and aesthetic. Xaime is using his Vinos Barrigones to regenerate his family’s 6.5 hectare or 16 acre vineyard near Queretaro, Mexico. Queretaro is just a bit more than an hour north of Mexico City, and quality viticulture is possible here at this southern latitude because of the high elevation 1800 meters or close to 6000 feet above sea level. Of course that brings some unique challenges as well, and Xaime gives us a great explanation of how he makes wine with the climate to fit his culture and cuisine perfectly. We also talk briefly about the ciders Xaime is making, and Mezcal, which is where Xaime got his start in fermented beverages. One of the insights Xaime offered that has made me appreciate Mezcal much more than I did was its possibility to express terroir. Unlike grain spirits, which are made with an annual crop, Mezcal is made from a perennial plant that lives in the soil for years – sometimes decades – before harvest. This new way of seeing and appreciating Mezcal has strangely affected my pallet, and I've found myself actually enjoying it for the first time. I have a decent bottle at home, of course, this is Los Angeles, but I’ve neglected it in my cabinet for years. After this interview I immediately poured a glass for myself … and loved every drop, and mezcal has been the only liquor I’ve ordered at a bar since. So there you go… a little mind pallet connection magic was made possible thanks to Xaime. So a big thanks to Xaime for expanding my world, and for being the first Mexican wine producer on the podcast. There’s an old and vibrant and growing wine culture in Mexico, and I hope to share more producers with you soon. Support this episode by subscribing via patreon Sponsors: Centralas Wine Catavino Tours Oom - recycled bottles for wine VT Vineyards Let them know you heard about them through the Organic Wine Podcast.

1h 2m
May 30
Amy Lee - Solving Wine’s Biggest Problem

This is a special episode. More than an episode, it’s a direct request to all of you listening right now. Here’s the request: let’s solve the glass bottle problem right now. If you’ve been listening to this podcast recently, the name OOM should be familiar to you. They’re a sponsor of this podcast, and they are a company based here in my fair city that is tackling the bottle re-use challenge head on. They have begun collecting, de-labeling, cleaning and sanitizing wine bottles to re-sell. They’ve encountered some problems that they can’t solve on their own… they need you. Or really, we all need each other. As you listen to this conversation with OOM co-founder Amy Lee, you’ll see what I mean. Amy wants OOM to help eliminate single use packaging across all industries. The scope of this conversation is mainly focused on California, but this is a conversation that needs to happen and is happening everywhere. The reason I wanted to get this conversation out to you is because any of us trying to do this anywhere will encounter the same problems, and sharing these problems and their potential solutions as a global community of winemakers and wine lovers will move all of these efforts forward toward solutions much more quickly. The main issues come down to two things that all of us listening can help make happen: first, we need to use label materials that can be removed without chemical processes, and second, we need to agree on just a handful of standard bottle shapes and colors that we all use if we buy new glass. Why do we need to do this? Why is this conversation not only important, but urgent? Because glass is far and away the biggest source of emissions for the wine industry, and re-using bottles can drastically reduce the emissions associated with producing and using new glass. Also, most wine bottles do not get recycled in the US. Those of you listening in Europe do much better with your recycling, but in the US we recycle less than 31% of our wine bottles. And the bad news about recycling glass is that it produces a lot of emissions to heat glass to close to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit so that it can be re-molded. My hope is that those of you listening now can choose to alter your bottle and label purchasing behavior immediately to begin to facilitate a transition to a re-use system. If you’re not a wine producer, tell your favorite producers about this opportunity. Let them know you’d like them to embrace these bottling choices and that you’d not only be okay with it, you’d love it. If you’re a wine maker, get everyone at your custom crush onto the same bottles and labels. Spread this podcast and this message to everyone you know in wine. Because it will take all of us, and we’ll need to work with the glass producers too. I was at a local wine fair yesterday here in Los Angeles for natural wine producers. I think every producer and supporter there was philosophically receptive to this kind of change, but what was lacking was a moment in the center of that event where someone called everyone in attendance to attention and rallied us all together as community of like-minded individuals who have a lot of power to make that change happen, and appeal to us to take action to make this happen. This is that appeal. And if you are hosting or organizing an event or know someone who is, please consider structuring that moment into your festival. Whether it’s to instigate action to create a bottle re-use program, or a three-minute appeal to make any other change happen that we desperately need to make, I’m beginning to feel like these festivals are missed opportunities to do something important. We have linear systems in place right now. Linear systems can only exist if we assume the earth’s resources are infinite, if we assume that we can continue to take without giving back. We all know this assumption is tragically wrong – linear systems all have dead ends, and so it’s time to set up a new circular system based on the assumption that our world and its resources are precious and finite and require us to give back on the same level at which we take. This conversation is about how we start to do that. Resources, bottle skus, and label specs for a re-use system at: To help make this positive change happen, please join our patreon community

1h 3m
May 22
Jess Hopwood - A Magical Tour of the Okanagan

Prepare to go on a magical, and at times hilarious, journey to a special place on earth.  Your guide on this journey is Jess Hopwood, and she has a lot of experience spoiling voyagers with amazing trips. She has been, among other things, a flight attendant on private jets, a butler on luxury yachts, and now runs Farm to Glass Wine Tours in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. The Okanagan is that special place on earth. The furthest north location on the planet with a hot Mediterranean climate, the Okanagan centers on a lake that runs 81 miles north to south and is surrounded by beautiful towns, towering mountains, Mediterranean blue lakes, and wine. I have to admit that I was woefully ignorant of this area, but it has jumped to the top of my list of wine regions to visit thanks to Jess.   Jess guides us through the climate, the scenery, the history, and some of the amazing people, farming, and wines that can be found in the Okanagan. This is by no means an exhaustive accounting of producers who are doing great farming and making amazing fermentations. The Okanagan is a large and diverse region with much more to be discovered, but I think you’ll be enchanted even by just this short day trip. Jess visited me on a recent trip to LA and brought some unique wines from the Naramata sub-region of the Okanagan, and we discuss these wines and their producers, and the beauty of this place where vines grow on benchland cliffs over the lake, and the land was named for a famous smile. The Okanagan is at the forefront of organic, or better, agriculture, in Canada, and Jess focuses on small, local producers who do great farming. At the end of the day, before a final refreshing dip in the lake, Jess takes us on a quick trip up the Similkameen – a river valley with sheer mountain walls that flows into the Okanagan and is known as the organic capital of Canada. Support this episode by subscribing via patreon Sponsors: Centralas Wine Catavino Tours Oom - recycled bottles for wine VT Vineyards Let them know you heard about them through the Organic Wine Podcast.

1h 51m
May 15
David Keck - Master Sommelier & Vermont Vigneron at Stella 14

Master Sommelier David Keck discovered his love for wine while pursuing a career—and traveling the world—as an opera singer. He has a Master of Music Degree from Rice University, an undergraduate degree in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and attended Juilliard for opera performance. ​ After years of bartending and working in hospitality between operatic gigs, David took his first sommelier course with the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2010 and decided to make the career change. David was named one of Food & Wine’s Sommeliers of the Year in 2016, and passed his Master Sommelier exam later that year, making him the 149th American Master Sommelier and the 233rd in the world. He was awarded the StarChefs Rising Stars Restaurateur of the Year award in 2019. He has presented seminars for the Court of Master Sommeliers, GuildSomm, Vine Society, and numerous other educational organizations, as well as being a featured presenter at events such as the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, Pebble Beach Food & Wine, Nantucket Food & Wine, and many others. He is a sought-after wine judge for competitions both nationally and abroad. Since going full-force into the hospitality field, he has worked in every aspect of the beverage industry: He has opened restaurants, wine bars, honky-tonks and retail shops, worked as a sales rep. and directed wine programs for distribution companies, and now farms a vineyard and makes wine with hybrid grapes in the mountains of his home state, Vermont, under the label Stella 14 with his partner Lauren. Support this episode by subscribing via patreon Sponsors: Centralas Wine Catavino Tours Oom - recycled bottles for wine VT Vineyards Let them know you heard about them through the Organic Wine Podcast.

May 08
Clark Smith - Postmodern Winemaking

My guest for this episode is Clark Smith. Clark has been making and studying wine since the 1970’s. He’s had a huge influence on the wine world through his wine consulting business, and in 2013 he published the book Postmodern Winemaking. Ten years later, that book is still groundbreaking. Clark knows more than you do about the chemistry of winemaking. In addition to that, he’ll tell you he has a bit of an ego. He may say some things that rub you the wrong way. He may say some things that you find hard to believe. He may say some things that contradict everything you know. But he may also say some things that enlighten you and revolutionize your winemaking. There really isn’t a way to pigeon-hole him. Clark is candid, transparent, a bit of a pot-stirrer, and in pursuit of the most soulful wine he can make. In the past he has been the whipping boy for the natural wine press, partly for his embrace of new technologies, and partly for his willingness to confront hype with science. Depending on your convictions, you can fault him or thank him for introducing reverse osmosis and micro-oxygenation to American wine, but you cannot fault him for concealing his use of techniques or technologies in his winemaking… which is more than I can say for some who claim to make natural wine. You may disagree with him, but make sure you understand him before you dismiss him. We cover A LOT of ground in this conversation, including: What wine really is – the googe-ness of wine Minerality comes from living soil Why brix has nothing to do with ripeness, and how determining ripeness takes a personal relationship with a vineyard Why watering back wine increases its aromatic and color intensity Why he makes his best wines without sulfites, and how everything that’s common knowledge about sulfites in wine is wrong Why Brettanomyces is a hospital disease, and why a living wine with good structure beats it. Wine Diamonds White Wine making Sweet Wine making And Much more. Buckle in… maybe grab a note pad… and Enjoy! Support this episode by subscribing via patreon Sponsors: Centralas Wine Catavino Tours Oom - recycled bottles for wine VT Vineyards Let them know you heard about them through the Organic Wine Podcast.

1h 51m
May 01
Drew Herman - Assume Superiority, Farm Scared, and Pretend Like You Know What You’re Doing While Killing Your Plants

Drew Herman – Assume Superiority, Farm Scared, and Pretend Like You Know What You’re Doing While Killing Your Plants Imagine if you were a thousand foot tall giant. How successful would you be at helping a 5 foot tall farmer collect her chickens eggs? Drew Herman is back for a second episode jam-packed with information and laughs. If you haven’t listened to the previous episode with Drew, I highly recommend checking it out first. It was episode # 74, published back in July of 2022 and was titled Microbial Democracy for a Healthy Vineyard and World. In this new episode, Drew discusses the game changing discovery of rhizophagy and what that means for the way we farm wine… and he manages to crack me up with memorable quips about once a minute. Drew wants to impress upon us how each new discovery about the soil microbiome and the way plants function with it shows how little we know. We discuss plants’ incredible genetic intelligence and the need to start assuming that they know vastly more than we do about how to take care of them.. We discuss recently discovered fallacies about fallowing and soil pH. We talk about the desperate need to reintroduce breeding new vines as standard practice in wine, and the stunning genetic potential in a seed, including a full arsenal of microbiology that actually teaches it how to grow. Given our deepening understanding of our ignorance, Drew beseeches us to stop blundering around with fertilization and pesticide programs, the impacts of which we really don’t understand. The vines we farm, as it turns out, are much better farmers than we are… and our efforts to help them usually just get in their way. Like a mushroom foraging expedition, there are non-sequitur delights scattered throughout this conversation all the way through to the end when Drew discusses the importance of voles and how to manage them in the vineyard. He also offers numerous free resources to deepen your knowledge and learn how much we have to learn. Drew is vineyard manager at JK Carriere wines in Oregon, but I think his true gift may be in making deep soil science as fun as playing in the dirt… hopefully playing in the dirt sounds fun to you. If not… well, just think of something fun, and then associate that with Drew. Enjoy! Support this episode by subscribing via patreon Sponsors: Centralas Wine - delicious, ecological wine Catavino Tours - amazing, wine tours Oom - recycled bottles for wine VT Vineyards - plant your own vineyard

1h 22m
Apr 24
Deirdre Heekin - La Garagista & Domain de la Foret

When I think of Vermont, I think of slanted light and moody skies, wildflowers and rosy cheeks, small farms and big forests. And because of my guest for this episode, when I think of Vermont I also think of hardy vines and delicious wines. Deirdre Heekin is the person behind La Garagista and Domaine de la Foret, along with her husband Caleb, and what seems to be a continual stream of young winemakers who help and learn and have become the next generation of Vermont wine. Deirdre is a restauranteur, vigneron, writer, photographer, mentor, gardener… and more, and that means we cover a lot of ground in this conversation. We talk about the magic of the forest and why grapevines are integral to the forest edge ecology that we aim to replicate with holistic, regenerative agriculture. We talk about Deirdre’s approach to farming Brianna, which involves not pruning it. She also shares some of the unique approaches she has developed for making cider and wine and co-ferments and other things that don’t have names, by gleaning from ancient techniques and by learning from nature and the opportunities it presents to work with it to create one-of-a-kind fermentations. Support this episode by subscribing via patreon Sponsors: Centralas Wine Catavino Tours Oom - recycled bottles for wine VT Vineyards Let them know you heard about them through the Organic Wine Podcast.

1h 30m
Apr 18
Peter Schmidt - The Legend of Mythopia

My guest for this episode is Hans Peter Schmidt. He goes by Peter Schmidt, and he is a director and faculty member for the Ithaka Institute,  an international network for carbon strategies and climate farming, and he farms and makes wine from the amazing Mythopia wine-ecosystem in Switzerland, which he also uses as a research vineyard for the Ithaka Institute. He’s also involved in other winegrowing projects around southern Europe, and has a pretty big reputation for his approach to wine. In this interview we cover viticulture, winemaking, and the philosophy of wine. Peter may be the most non-interventionist – or natural or naturalistic – winemaker I’ve ever encountered. You may think him strange for some of the things he does with wine, and you may think him mad for some of the things he doesn't do. You’ll hear how these things are even possible. Hint: it has to do with mindset as much as ecology. Peter makes wine in a way that, once you hear its simplicity, could revolutionize your own winemaking. If you end up making wine in the way that Peter does, Peter only requests that you send him a bottle to thank him for the idea… a sort of intellectual property royalty payment.  I for sure at least want to try a batch of wine the way Peter makes – or really doesn’t make it.   Peter ends the conversation with a perspective, or really a meditation, or how wine fits into the human story. Like so much of this conversation, it merely scratches the surface and gives a glimpse of many beautiful things that we can begin to explore. Enjoy! Support this episode by subscribing via patreon Sponsors: Centralas Wine Catavino Tours Oom - recycled bottles for wine VT Vineyards Let them know you heard about them through the Organic Wine Podcast.

1h 1m
Apr 10
Virginia Samsel - Building Connections To Your Vineyard or Orchard, Biodynamics & Reiki

My guest for this episode is Virginia Samsel. Virginia is a unique kind of vineyard, or orchard, consultant. She provides energy work and consultation using a synthesis of biodynamics and reiki. She translates the the messages she receives from a site into helpful advice for the people who care for it, and that can help farmers build a spiritual connection to their land. Much of this conversation is at and beyond the limits of our language to express. So it’s important to be open. You may not be able to go along with Virginia on everything, and that’s okay. I think you will find that she doesn’t subtract from anything you already know, and she can add some new ways of seeing and knowing your landscape. She gives us some really important tips on how to begin to connect with the land and the things living in it. She talks about spending Non-transactional time with your vines and or trees. Developing a relationship with your site that includes being vulnerable and allowing it to get to know the other parts of you beyond just your farmer side. She offers ideas about how to relate to the land and develop it as more than just a production facility. She reminds us that tending our vineyards is synonymous with tending ourselves. Ultimately, this interview is full of resources for turning this Anthropocene, or capitalocene, into an Ecocene of renewed connectivity. Enjoy! Support this episode by subscribing via patreon Sponsors: Centralas Wine Catavino Tours Oom - recycled bottles for wine VT Vineyards Let them know you heard about them through the Organic Wine Podcast.

1h 2m
Apr 03
Stephen Wilson - VT Vineyards

One of the sponsors for this episode is actually the guest for this episode: Stephen Wilson of Vermont Vineyards. I met Stephen at the Vitinord Conference, where VT Vineyards was also a sponsor, and I admired him and his approach to viticulture enough to suggest that we have this conversation… and I guess the feeling was mutual because he simultaneously suggested sponsoring the podcast. The result is that you can go to and hire Stephen to install a vineyard for you, and that vineyard installation will support this podcast.  If you’ve considered planting your own vineyard, or even just putting in a few vines for landscaping features, like over a pergola or fence, then you’ll find this conversation helpful. Since both Stephen and I plant vineyards in backyards or even larger landscapes – or front yards in my case – and since we do this in the very different contexts of Southern California and Vermont, we have a wide range of perspectives and approaches to compare and discuss. We don’t get highly technical, but we do get to some of the dirty details and realities of being a vineyard caretaker. So there’s some very valuable information for potential vineyard owners and some important ideas for everyone to consider. And both Stephen and I find tending vines to be very rewarding work on multiple levels. Stephen’s idea for VT Vineyards was born during the pandemic, and grew from a desire to heal and enrich other people’s lives with a reconnection to the natural world through vines. Stephen and I talk about the Vermont wine scene, and we both want to acknowledge that we couldn’t talk about everyone. There are, and have been, many winegrowers who we didn’t mention by name who have done much important work for Vermont wine. Since this was not a conversation about the history of Vermont wine, we inevitably omitted lots of people who deserve mention and respect. Enjoy, and Happy Spring! Support this episode by subscribing via patreon Sponsors: Centralas Wine Catavino Tours Oom - recycled bottles for wine VT Vineyards Let them know you heard about them through the Organic Wine Podcast.

1h 6m
Mar 27
Wine & Spirit - Regeneration, Rewilding, and the Soul of Wine

This episode is about making room for the unknown. Or the known, but unmeasurable. If making wine means more than botany and chemistry to you, if you find yourself so deep in the soil that you've started making mycorrhizal connections, if you've begun to notice that what we talk about when we talk about wine is connected to things that have nothing to do with wine... this episode is for you. A big thanks to Chiara Shannon and Darek Trowbridge for candidly discussing these ideas. We’d really like to know what you think about this episode, so please email any comments, or questions to We only scratch the surface of this topic, but I think you’ll find some inspiring ideas including: Darek’s proposal of Sacred Grade wine, quite a few books and resources to check out, a discussion of some of the as yet unmeasurable aspects of Biodynamics, with a really amazing story that Darek shares about the efficacy of the 501 preparation and how he made believers of his entire vineyard crew. And we talk in many ways about regeneration and rewilding, how these land-centered ideas are connected to and echoed inside us, as well as how our interior lives get reflected in how we care for our land and our vines. Support this episode by subscribing via patreon Sponsors: Centralas Wine Catavino Tours Oom - recycled bottles for wine VT Vineyards Let them know you heard about them through the Organic Wine Podcast.

1h 26m
Mar 20
Marreya Bailey - Mad Marvlus & The Bathing Collective

I’d like to introduce you to a source of inspiration for me personally, and my guest for this episode: Marreya Bailey. Marreya’s winery is Mad Marvlus, which, as she mentions, sounds like a super hero name. And maybe that’s appropriate. Marreya doesn’t really make wine with Mad Marvlus, she creates living embodiments of personality and spirit that you can drink. She calls them her creatures. Don’t expect just grapes, but any and every natural thing that produces sugar and flavor in her environment. Don’t expect traditional wine either, unless by traditional you mean the actual traditions from cultures around the globe that were practiced for millennia prior to this strange thing that has happened for the last fifty years. Marreya is also the founding mother and co-partner of The Bathing Collective, which you’ll have to listen to find out what it is… and the future that it hopes to bring about.  Support this episode by subscribing via patreon Sponsors: Centralas Wine Catavino Tours Oom - recycled bottles for wine Let them know you heard about them through the Organic Wine Podcast.

1h 40m
Mar 13
J. Stephen Casscles - Hybrid & American Heritage Grapes: Treat The Like Real Grapes!

My guest for this episode is J Stephen Casscles, author of the book Grapes of the Hudson Valley, and grower of 106 varieties of hybrids and heritage wine grapes in the Hudson Valley. If I were to boil this entire episode down into one message it would be to Treat hybrids like real grapes! We talk all about the benefits and characteristics of these heritage and hybrid grapes. We talk about the added benefits of growing grapes on their own roots, rather than rootstock. We talk about why hybrids were banned in France. We talk about the benefits of the greater productivity of these grapes, the benefits of the disease resistance of these grapes. We talk about making wine from hybrids, and how they can immensely expand your palate of flavors to work with. Stephen has a wealth of information to share and this interview is a non-stop firehose of wine knowledge. Sponsors: & use referral code OWP in the contact form Catavino Tours Centralas Wine

1h 12m
Mar 06
Ryan Opaz, Catavino Tours - Ecological Consciousness in a Complex World

My guest for this episode is Ryan Opaz. His wine journey has led him to become a thoughtful wine business owner with deep ecological consciousness gained from decades of working at nearly every level of the wine industry. Besides being the founder and CEO of Catavino, with his wife and partner Gabriella he runs a natural and organic wine shop in Porto, Portugal, co-authored and was the photographer of the James Beard Award-nominated book Foot-Trodden: Portugal and the wines that time forgot. Previously he was also the photographer for the book The Amber Revolution, and a book about Porto’s Portugal’s Historic Bolhão Market. For his service to the Portugese wine industry he has also been inducted as a Knight of the Port Wine Brotherhood. Yes, this this is a conversation with not only a Knight, but a wine Knight. One of the admirable qualities of Ryan that comes up in this interview is his desire to remind all of us in wine that answers to questions and solutions to problems aren’t universally applicable and timeless. That is, the issues we face are complex, context-dependent, and we would be wise to resist the impulse to simplify questions to single answers, or problems to single solutions, and even when we think we have found a way forward, we should continue to research and explore and be willing to find that we need to change our approach again next year. We also talk a lot about emissions offsets. If you’ve been paying attention to the news about carbon offsets, from John Oliver to the Guardian, you’ll know that there are a lot of problems with offsets. In fact there are more than problems… there is a massive amount of deception and outright fraud. Ryan brings up some really interesting ideas about offsets that I think are important to consider, and his efforts to make his wine tourism company less wasteful and more ecologically positive have brought up some really good questions that I think we will all be wrestling with over the next decade or so. And I’m currently in discussion with a reputable company who provides offsets to do a future episode entirely devoted to the hard questions around these issues. So stay tuned. The most important thing may not be that we seek ways to offset every ounce of carbon from our footprint, but that we begin to see that all of our choices and actions have ecological consequences, that there is a cost to everything we do, and if we aren’t paying for it, it’s likely that the earth or someone or something else is. Full disclosure: Ryan’s company is a sponsor for the Organic Wine Podcast, and you can support this podcast by visiting for organic wine podcast. I’m glad to have them for a sponsor, and I think this interview will help you see why. Other Sponsors Include:  Use referral code OWP And the most direct way you can support this podcast is: Thank you!

1h 53m
Feb 28
Hoss Hauksson - Vitiforestry Polyculture in Switzerland

My guest for this episode is Hoss Hauksson, and he practices a form of viticulture in Switzerland that integrates elements of vitiforestry or a silvoculture polyculture, using a biodynamic approach, with the world’s smallest sheep and technologies like drone spraying and UV robots. His wine takes the idea of terroir literally, incorporating medicinal and aromatic herbs and trees as infusions in both the vineyard ecosystem and in his pinot noir. In other words, I think I discovered my long lost soul twin. Hoss is one of the only, if not the one and only, Icelandic winemakers on earth, (which means he’s probably related to Steve Matthiasson) and he tells us about his journey from wanting to be “the hero winemaker” to a focus on just becoming a good farmer. Hoss’s holistic, ecological view of fostering a healthy farm ecosystem from which the best, most interesting wine can be made, leads us from some really important discussion about the soil microbiome through to expressing terroir by making a pet-nat infused with wormwood, hyssop, and yarrow. Along the way we find out the importance of promoting a fungal-dominant soil that recreates the forest floor from which vines evolved, how he uses different trees and herbs for different purposes in and around the vines, and how his adorable miniature sheep are vital to the entire ecosystem. Fertile nuggets of information, rich with wisdom, are scattered everywhere through this interview like sheep poop in a vineyorchard. You’re in for a treat. Hauksson Wine Sponsor: Contact Oom & Use referral code OWP Support this podcast via Patreon.

1h 11m
Feb 20
Special: Is The Term ”New World” Problematic?

This is a special episode in which I ask the question: Why hasn’t the wine industry term “New World” gone the way of other problematic terms like “Oriental”? For a while now, something about the use of the term “New World” has grated on me. As someone who lives and makes wine in one of the myriad parts of the world described by this term, I couldn’t help but notice how different are the cultures within this term and yet how homogenous is the “wine” culture. This term began to bother me more and more. It makes most of the world of wine referential and derivative. It makes us imitators. In truth, I think it makes us colonial subjects. Not of a political power, but of an idea: the global colonial monoculture known as “wine.” I think it’s time we stop using the term “New World” (and “Old World” for that matter). I think it’s time we create a new world of wine. I’m also thrilled to introduce you to a great new service that can significantly reduce the wine industry’s carbon footprint and waste: Oom Oom provides clean reused bottles for the wine industry, and as a sponsor of this podcast, if you use the referral code “OWP” when you contact them for your bottle order, you can support the Organic Wine Podcast. Contact Oom & Use referral code OWP Support this podcast via Patreon. Thank you for your support!

Feb 16
Tidal Bay, Haley Brown - The First & Only Appellation Wine In The Americas

My guest for this episode is Haley Brown, the Executive Director of Wine Growers Nova Scotia, and this is a very special episode for multiple reasons. First, believe it or not, this is the first episode of the Organic Wine Podcast about a specific region and wine that is made outside the borders of the United States. I know those of you not from the US are probably thinking “It’s about time!” And you’re not wrong, but I have been really intentional about this focus. I think change always starts locally, and also there’s a lot I think we need to change in the US. But I’m really excited to crack that international seal with Nova Scotia because they are doing something unique and brilliant with Tidal Bay wine. If this isn’t your first episode of the Organic Wine Podcast, you probably know that I want to bring an end to varietal labeling of wines. I stopped listing grape varieties on the wines I make with my winery Centralas as of the 2021 vintage, and I’ve been talking about the need to do away with our varietal obsession ever since. I think it turns wine into a commodity rather than a cultural process. It inhibits change and innovation, and it forces growers to conform to market trends rather than adapt to environmental conditions. And it has resulted in, as Haley mentions, 80% of the world’s wine being made from 20 varieties of grapes (all of which are a single species btw). Aside from the negative ecological effects of this global monoculture, it has also made wine incredibly boring (and then we wonder why sales are declining). But as the lone voice for how eliminating varietal labeling could benefit the entire wine industry, after a couple years of spreading this message I found that most people received this message with confusion at best, and at worst I was dismissed as that crazy guy from Los Angeles… which, you know, is fair to an extent. And as a self-critical kind of person, some pernicious doubts did begin to creep into my mind. But then, at the Vitinord conference in December, I discovered Tidal Bay. Tidal Bay is the first and only appellation wine in North or South America. That is, it is a wine that is made, branded, and sold as a reflection of place and culture without reliance on varietal labelling. And honestly, for the first of something, I think the Nova Scotians did something that needs no refinement. The way they have conceived of and structured Tidal Bay is brilliant. It’s flexible, inclusive, rigorous, reflective of their unique culture, and ensures high quality. After you listen to this, let me know if you can think of any way to improve on this idea, or why it couldn’t be implemented in any region where there are growers willing to participate. A big thanks to Haley for elucidating all of the details of Tidal Bay, and a big thanks to the Nova Scotian growers who have given us this incredible and successful example. Sponsor: Support this podcast via Patreon:

1h 2m
Feb 13
Greg Jones - Wine Climatologist & Abacela CEO

Greg Jones is my guest for this episode. Greg  is the CEO of Abacela winery in Oregon and is a  world-renowned wine climatologist. For over thirty years his research has firmly linked weather and climate with grapevine growth, fruit chemistry, and wine characteristics in regions all around the globe. His work was also one of the first to tie climate change to fundamental biological phenomena in vines and the resulting influences on productivity and quality. His groundbreaking work has informed and influenced the wine industry across the globe, and we talk about what it means to apply the science of climate change to growing wine. Oregon is unique in the wine world in that it is known to outsiders mostly for a single variety of grape – Pinot Noir. Abacela happens to be the first winery to plant Tempranillo in the pacific northwest, and Greg talks about how important it is to diversify and experiment, especially in response to the data of climate change. And he makes great points about the untapped genetic resources within just the single species of Vitis Vinifera. You can see Greg’s presentation on Wine and climate change from the VitiNord coference  at Sponsor: Support this podcast via Patreon:

1h 5m
Feb 06
Mike Appolo - No-Spray Vineyard in New Hampshire, Appolo Vineyards

My guest for this episode is Mike Appolo and he tells us all about how he is growing a no-spray vineyard in New Hampshire less than an hour from Boston. Yes, I said “no spray.” You may have heard it’s impossible. You may smugly reject the possibility of success. But Mike is growing wine grapes in New England without sprays and has been for over a decade at his estate winery Appolo Vineyards. Appolo Vineyards was just this month named the New Hampshire’s First Winery in the Sustainable Craft Beverage Recognition Program. After listening to this interview I think you’ll agree that it’s a well deserved honor. Mike is growing winegrapes in a place where summers are hot and humid, winters can be brutal, and wild turkeys are one of the birds that regularly eat your grapes. It’s also a place of beautiful wines. Listen closely to what Mike says, but also what’s behind what he says. There’s a something rock steady about Mike. He seems undaunted by the numerous challenges inherent in what he’s doing. I think this is guided in part by a humility and openness to learning, both from other vintners and from nature itself. Another part of this is valuing the legacy that he his building. It’s a legacy of valuing the health and life of his world over easy profit, and he’s showing that it’s not only possible, but delicious. Sponsor: Support this podcast via Patreon:

1h 18m
Jan 30
Aaron & Holly Puhala - Vineyard Innovations, Grape Breeding, and How to Support Your Local Grape Breeder

My guests for this episode are Aaron and Holly Puhala, the owners of Vineyard Innovations in Ohio. Aaron & Holly met in school where they both studied chemical engineering… this chemical romance blossomed into a life where they breed new varieties of grapes that the world has never seen before. They’ve been at this for 20 years now, and have a handful of varieties to share with the world, as well as some really great ideas about how to make grape breeding a profitable venture for more people. But I want to let their own words, from their website, serve as the introduction to this conversation: There is a quiet revolution happening in the world of wine. Growers everywhere are facing the realities of a changing climate and considering replacing their established wine grape varieties with others that are more suited to the challenges of modern viticulture. At the same time, consumers facing a sea of sameness are seeking out new and exciting wines crafted by artisans with a passionate focus on creating quality wines with authenticity of place. Perhaps never before has the table been set more perfectly for the emergence of new grape varieties that answer the needs and desires of both winegrower and consumer. At Vineyard Innovations we create new wine grape varieties having resistance to the extremes of climate and disease pressure that are perfectly suited to sustainable, organic and biodynamic viticultural practices. Exciting aroma and flavor combinations are paving the way for the emergence of iconic wines that will open the door to the exploration of new terroirs that today are unreachable! Welcome to a New World of Wine! Podcast website: If you'd like to support this podcast, please subscribe on the Organic Wine Podcast Patreon page Thank you! Sponsor: Centralas Wine

1h 35m
Jan 23
Isabelle Legeron - RAW Natural Wine

My guest for this episode is Isabelle Legeron. Isabelle is the founder of the RAW Wine Festival, which, if you haven’t heard of it, is the premier natural wine festival on the planet. She’s also the author of the book Natural Wine: An Introduction to Organic and Biodynamic Wines Made Naturally.  Isabelle’s career is dedicated to promoting the same farming-first wine culture that I want to cultivate with the Organic Wine Podcast, so she was a natural choice for the 100th episode. This episode starts with some personal revelations from both of us about why we do what we do. We talk about how Isabelle tries to avoid dogma and debate about the winemaking that happens in the cellar, and focuses instead on the need for organic farming to be the greatest priority in natural wine. I challenge Isabelle about some of the limitations of natural wine, as well as her take on blind tasting, natural washing, and the benefits of participation in the RAW festival. Isabelle is a champion of vignerons who take the risks inherent in farming and winemaking without chemicals. She forged a space for these folks in the wine world and really created a home for natural winemakers when they were misfits and outcasts from the mainstream. Now that natural wine is a bit more mainstream, and perhaps a bit diluted with bandwagoners, she continues to insist on a foundation in beautiful, chemical free farming that stewards the natural world and honors its beauty. In her words, natural wine is a “gorgeous translation of what nature is capable of” and that’s why she continues to love and promote it. If you'd like to support this podcast, please subscribe on the Organic Wine Podcast Patreon page Thank you! Sponsor: Centralas Wine

1h 16m
Jan 17
Randall Grahm - Popelouchum & Is Terroir Real?

My guest for this episode is Randall Grahm. If you haven’t heard of him, Randall was New California about 20 years before the wave of New California winemakers. Young winemakers now who have never heard of him are just quote unquote discovering and trying things he did in the 1990s. Alternative packaging? Randall was one of the first advocates in America for the screw cap and staged The Funeral for the Cork at Grand Central Station in NYC in 2002. This elaborate event included a buick hearse, a casket with a full sized corpse made of corks, and a eulogy by Jancis Robinson. Alternative and obscure grape Varieties in the US? Randall was the original Rhone Ranger and appeared on the cover of Wine Spectator dressed as the Lone Ranger, with a horse, in 1989. With his winery, Bonny Doon, he helped introduce and popularize the Rhone varieties of grapes that we take for granted now. At its height, Bonny Doon was one of the largest wineries in America. In 1991 an asteroid was named “Rhoneranger” in his honor. In addition to crafting some other big brands, like Big House Red and Cardinal Zin, he continues to promote obscure and overlooked grape varieties, as you’ll hear in this interview. Randall was an early proponent of ingredient labeling on wine bottles, as well as biodynamic farming. In 1994 He was proclaimed the Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year by the James Beard Foundation, and in 2010 the Culinary Institute of America inducted him into the Vintner’s Hall of Fame. In addition to being a very entertaining disruptor of the wine industry, Randall is an incredibly thoughtful winemaker and writer, and one of his guiding principles has been the pursuit of terroir. In this interview we dig into terroir and “wines of place,” attempting to determine if it is actually a helpful or beneficial concept, or if it is even real. Randall explains how he is testing a few new theories about terroir at his estate vineyard project, Popelouchum, in San Juan Bautista, where he’s growing myriad varieties of grapes, many from seed. And we discuss his partnership with Gallo on The Language of Yes project. I hope this will make you want to learn more about Randall Grahm. Enjoy! If you'd like to support this podcast, please subscribe on the Thank you! Sponsor:

Jan 09
Dr. Dave Johnston - Bats & Vineyard Ecology

For this episode I got to interview a real life super hero – The Bat Man. Dr. Dave Johnston is an Adjunct Associate Wildlife Ecologist and Bat Biologist at H. T. Harvey & Associates. Dave is a vertebrate ecologist who specializes in the foraging ecology and conservation biology of bats. He has studied bats for over 30 years and for the past 15 years he has focused on renewable energy and transportation projects in California and Hawaii. He also has ongoing research projects involving the foraging ecology of bats in California, Mexico, Belize, and more recently, in Costa Rica where he currently resides. Dr. Johnston is a hobby winemaker who started making wine as a student at CalPoly, San Luis Obispo. Dr. Johnston describes the many ways bats are vital to our ecology generally, and to wine production specifically. As he explains how unique and diverse bats are, I think you’ll find yourself falling in love with bats, not only because of their importance to the ecology of wine but because they are such amazing creatures that we mostly overlook. In addition to learning about some of the threats to bats – including pesticides and wind turbines – we learn how to attract bats to our vineyards and orchards, which we definitely want to do, and we learn what kinds of bats eat leaf hoppers, vineyard moths, Japanese beetles, and more. And you’re going to hear some fascinating things about the altruism of vampire bats, scorpion eating bats, and flowers that evolved as night blooming satellite dishes for echo-locating bats to pollinate them. Join me on this nocturnal expedition to find out who is tending your vines while you sleep. If you'd like to support this podcast, please subscribe on the Organic Wine Podcast Patreon page: Thank you! Sponsor:

1h 21m
Jan 02
Tara Gomez & Mireia Taribó - Camins 2 Dreams

My guests for this episode are Tara Gomez and Mireia Taribó of Camins 2 Dreams winery in Lompoc, California. In some partnerships one person will have the greater passion for or experience with wine, while business or marketing savvy may be the forte of the other partner. In Tara and Mireia’s case there are two partners who caught the winemaking bug early in life and have spent their entire lives, both apart and together, learning about and gaining experience in winemaking… and both contribute their depth of knowledge to the wines of Camins 2 Dreams. What I’m trying to say is that it just isn’t fair how delicious their wines are! Mireia is from Barcelona and grew up steeped in Spanish wine culture. She has multiple undergraduate and graduate degrees in Chemistry, Enology, Viticulture and all things wine. She met Tara while the two of them were working at J Lohr in Paso Robles. Mireia then hired Tara to help her when she got a job making wine in the Pyrennee Mountains for several years. Tara and Mireia are two of my local heroes, based in Lompoc in Santa Barbara County, sourcing grapes from some of the same Santa Rita Hills vineyards that I’ve used for Centralas wines. But it’s important for those of you who aren’t locals to understand that these areas – now part of the Santa Barbara wine country – are the traditional lands of the Chumash tribe, which included much of the central and southern California coast from Mailbu to Paso Robles. Camins 2 Dreams is actually the label for Kalawashaq’ Wine Cellars (named for the village where Tara’s Chumash ancestors once lived) After J. Lohr, Tara started and made wine for her Chumash tribe under Kita Wines. She is the first recognized Native American winemaker, and made Kita the first winery to be run solely by its Native American tribe with fruit from their own lands. Tara was VinePair’s winemaker of the year in 2021. Tara and Mireia started Camins 2 Dreams out of their shared love for wine, winemaking and each other, and I’m honored to share their story with you. If you'd like to support this podcast, please subscribe on the Organic Wine Podcast Patreon page: Thank you! Sponsor:

1h 10m
Dec 26, 2022
Steven Thompson - Analemma Wines, Aesthetic Farming

My guest for this episode is Steven Thompson of Analemma. Analemma is a winery located in the Columbia Gorge AVA in the Columbia River Valley in Oregon. Steven views himself as a vigneron, with a holistic perspective that sees winemaking as a year round process that begins in the vineyard. Steven and the Anamlemma team have practiced biodynamic, regenerative farming since its inception and the entire farm has been certified as a biodynamic orgnaism since 2017. I think you’ll love Steven’s soulful approach to farming that sees the interconnectedness of each aspect of an ecosystem. We dig into the seldom discussed aspect of farm aesthetics, and how important it is to farm beautifully, not just ecologically. Steven talks about a unique way that they approach terroir at Analemma by interplanting and creating a sort of vineyard infusion. And we discuss his process for making pied de cuves for starting fermentations naturally. Steven reminded me that we can create a wine culture that is more than just functionally ecological, and commercially sustainable. We can create something that is beautiful, that feeds our soul, and that creates the same kind of same kind of sensory pleasure in the farm that we expect in the glass. Special thanks: Chiara Shannon If you'd like to support this podcast, please subscribe on the Organic Wine Podcast Patreon page: Thank you! Sponsor:

1h 7m
Dec 19, 2022
Max Paschall - Vitiforestry & The Lost Forest Gardens of Europe

My guest for this episode is Max Paschall. Max owns Shelterwood Forest Farm and wrote the article The Lost Forest Gardens of Europe, a deeply researched piece on the polycultures that included grapes and wine and covered much of Europe for thousands of years. Max talks about why these agriculture systems were so resilient, and why they've been marginalized by modern agriculture. Topics covered include: Assisted migration of species, The spirit of trees, communication and intent, What a plant knows, Arboretum America, Lost forest gardens of Europe, the Temple of Diana in Rome and what that has to do with the need to be brave with our viticulture, Provignage – Layering and vineyard superorganisms, and of course Growing vines in trees. If you'd like to support this podcast, please subscribe on the Organic Wine Podcast Patreon page: Thank you! Sponsor: Show links:

1h 34m
Dec 12, 2022
Laurel Marcus - Climate Adaptation for Vineyards & Fish Friendly Farming

My guest for this episode is Laurel Marcus. Laurel is the Executive Director of the California Land Stewardship Institute based in Napa, California, which administers the Fish Friendly Farming and Climate Adaptation Certifications for vineyards and other farmers. Among her many responsibilities, Laurel works with farmers to conduct studies and gather data on farming practices that prevent erosion, preserve soil moisture, increase soil organic matter, and sequester carbon. Her findings provide some conclusive evidence about best practices, as well as eliminate green washing and carbon washing by showing that there are nuances and conditional dependencies for almost every scenario. Some of the important things we discuss include how soil type and conditions, as well as the type of soil microbe populations, can impact carbon sequestration. And we discuss her findings about how dry farming and no-till systems affect these conditions, as well as some of the realities and misunderstandings about competition between cover crops and vines. Also, Laurel digs into the seldom discussed topic of how the use of mineral nitrogen, rather than compost, and soil conditions can increase the production of nitrous oxide – the most potent  greenhouse gas… about 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This is an incredibly information rich interview and provides many practical resources – including funding resources – for how to do wine better. Laurel shows how careful we have to be, in the frenzy to do good, to not think that there are one size fits every situation bumper sticker solutions to our problems. This conversation has inspired me to look even more deeply at these issues, and I hope it does the same for you. If you'd like to support this podcast, please subscribe on the Organic Wine Podcast Patreon page: Thank you! Sponsor: Show links:    

1h 0m
Dec 05, 2022
Ryland Engelhart - Kiss The Ground, Regenerative Wine

My guest for this episode is Ryland Englehart. Ryland co-founded Kiss the Ground in 2013 and leads the organization as Executive Director, producer of the Kiss the Ground film, and host of the Kiss the Ground Podcast. As a 15-year entrepreneur, he is also the co-owner and prior Mission Fulfilment Officer of the nationally recognized plant-based restaurants, Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre, located here in Southern California. And so much more. I met Ryland at a vineyard in Santa Barbara that has been purchased for the express purpose of converting it from a conventional and extractive form of viticulture to a regenerative organic ranch. The occasion of our meeting was a fundraiser for Kiss the Ground, the organization. If you haven’t seen the film documentary Kiss The Ground I can’t recommend it enough. It’s the movie that introduced regenerative agriculture to over 10 million viewers worldwide. If you’re a Netflix subscriber you can watch it tonight. Let me speak plainly: regardless of what kind of agriculture you’re in, whether it’s viticulture, pommeculture, or otherwise, regenerative agriculture is the best solution to industrial agriculture’s degradation of our environment, If you’re wondering what exactly regenerative agriculture is, Ryland gives a great explanation right at the beginning. Ryland may be regenerative agriculture’s biggest spokesperson. And in this conversation he talks about wine’s unique ability to communicate the story and benefits of regenerative agriculture. There’s something infectiously hopeful about listening to Ryland speak. He is brutally honest about the realities we face, but he also has a long view perspective that is rare. He’s at the center of a growing global movement that is heading in the right direction. And it’s hard not to come away feeling that he’s just a spokesperson for the earth and vines and plants themselves. Support: Sponsor:

1h 11m
Nov 28, 2022
Mark Shepard - Restoration Agriculture & Growing GrapeVines In Trees

My guest for this episode is Mark Shepard. I’m so excited to share this conversation with you because Mark has a perspective on viticulture and agriculture in general that is revolutionary… while also being incredibly common sensical. He’s as funny as he is passionate and that passion comes from wanting to share an incredibly important message not only for producing wine, but also for our survival. Mark is the author of Restoration Agriculture which is a top 10 Amazon best seller in multiple categories. Restoration agriculture is his term for ecomimicry permaculture or multi-story perennial polyculture using what thrives naturally in your ecosystems. He practices this at scale on his 110 acre New Forest Farm in Wisconsin, and on several other properties, and he provides agricultural consulting around the planet. One of the quotes from his book that stood out to me is when he is talking about our conventional, monoculture approach, and says, “We have created the conditions under which pests and diseases thrive, while almost completely ceasing the improvement of the crops’ own resistance to the threats we have created.” This is so true in wine, where we have a global monoculture of a handful of European grapes that have been propagated by cloning for two hundred years or more. And in the last 50 years we’ve spent literally billions of dollars developing chemicals to enable these clones to survive, while investing very little in breeding new varieties that don’t need the chemicals… or in expanding the idea of wine to include other ingredients besides European grapes. Mark doesn’t spray his fruit, whether it’s apples or cherries or chestnuts or grapevines, he employs a kind of vitiforestry, and his approach to agriculture illuminates some incredible perspective shifts in how we could think about growing grapevines differently… as well as how we could think about wine differently… as one symbiotic element in a holistic perennial polyculture. Support the Organic Wine Podcast: Sponsor:

1h 14m
Nov 21, 2022
Why Wine Is Important - Special Episode

This is episode is something a little different, and it’s sponsored by Centralas Wine. Centralas is my winery and the first chapter  of this two chapter episode is a recording I made while driving around los angeles, as we angelenos are wont to do, so I apologize for the quality. But the content is pretty fun. The context is that I’ve stopped listing grape varieties on the labels for the wines I make and sell through Centralas. Since I made that decision, I’ve become hyper aware of how important grape varieties have become as handles that we think we need to understand a wine. It is literally the first thing people ask when I present one of our wines. This has led to some pretty interesting discussions and even debates. But Rather than make me think I made a mistake in not listing varieties, I’m more committed than ever to being the lone voice, if need be, calling for an end to our varietal obsession. I’m actually pretty convinced we’ve all been brain-washed by the global capitalist monoculture into thinking that knowing the variety of grape is necessary to understand a wine. So there you go… that should set up Chapter one as a fun and somewhat funny take on varietal labeling. And chapter two, while very different, is very symbiotic. It’s called Why Wine is Important, and I think you’ll be a bit surprised at the answer I give, because I try to answer that question from a different perspective so to speak. And that perspective is really the same perspective that chapter one comes from. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll leave it at that. Support the Organic Wine Podcast: Episode Sponsor:

Nov 14, 2022