New Challenges in Managing soils
Soils are filled with life. In fact, 80% of life on earth is in the soil, and its organic matter forms the basis of soil health and fertility, and therefore, food production. Furthermore, soils are a natural carbon sink.
So ultimately, changes in land use and soil can promote or degrade its biodiversity, slow down or accelerate climate change.
And though viticulture is a small part of the agricultural chain, and given its link with terroir and provenance, it has a unique opportunity to over-index in conversations about farming and the environment in general.
Regenerative viticulture is a term designating the use of any agricultural practices which serve to mitigate or even reverse the detrimental effects of viticultural activity on the natural environment. Increasingly, regenerative viticulture is being adopted by winegrowers worldwide, but with its adoption comes new challenges in managing vineyard soils.
In this Climate Talk, organized in cooperation with The Regenerative Viticulture Foundation, we will explore the importance of soil health in vineyards, and the new challenges which arise when managing that soil health using regenerative practices.
What is the importance of soil health in a vineyard? What are the essentials of soil management? What changes are observed with a more regenerative approach?
As usual, we are joined by producers and consultants from different parts of the world that are already leading the way in regenerative viticulture to share what they are doing and what outcomes they have witnessed.
What is the importance of soil health?
Leading indicators of soil health, and how can these be measured and improved.
How does healthy soil help with water retention?
Should soil be treated as a living organism and what happens to soil when ploughed?
Vineyards are often planted in areas of poor soil health which is why vines develop deep root systems, so why should we be concerned about topsoils?
Are there cost benefits to using non-regenerative methods vs regenerative methods?
Do the panelists have views on organic treatments vs synthetic treatments, particularly with regards to their impact on soil health?
What are the 3 top things a winegrower can do to encourage healthy soils, regenerative or non-regenerative?
Do you think regenerative practices can replace non-regenerative practices entirely in vineyard soil management?
Stephen Cronk . FRANCE
Co-Founder of Maison Mirabeau and Founder Trustee at Regenerative Viticulture Foundation
Stephen joined the London wine trade in his early-twenties and within a few years set up his own wine business. Twenty years and three children later he moved his family to Provence where he and his wife, Jeany, founded Mirabeau which is now an internationally recognised rosé wine brand.
In 2019 they acquired a 20-hectare estate near La Garde Freinet in the Côtes de Provence appellation. The soil, having been intensively farmed for the previous 25 years, resembled a moon landscape so the couple decided to do everything to bring the estate back to life. Having looked into regenerative agriculture (RA), as well as organic viticulture, the path was set to convert their piece of land back to its natural glory and invite life back into its soils. This is steadily being undertaken with the guidance and support of regenerative pioneers and they will be measuring the impact of this holistic system of farming over time.
Frances Trappey . UK
Consultant Viticulturist at Vinescapes
Consultant Viticulturist working for UK-based Vinescapes, Frances’ specialty is grape growing optimisation in challenging climates and working with clients to achieve the highest standards of viticultural practice. Her expertise runs from soil to vine to bottle and covers both technical (scientific) and strategic viticulture management.
Frances also has extensive wine production expertise and has previously been responsible for managing production at one of the U.K’s most prestigious wineries.
Frances holds an undergraduate degree from Lancaster University Management School and a MSc in Viticulture & Oenology.
Laurence Berlemont . FRANCE
Founder of Cabinet d’Agronomie Provençale
In 1996, Laurence created the “Cabinet d’Agronomie Provençale” (for advice and expertise), then in 2001, “Provence Agro Services” (for agricultural work).
In addition to the consultancy services provided through her companies, Laurence manages around 25 hectares of vineyards in Provence. Maintaining a genuinely comprehensive overview of agricultural areas is essential to her work and business, both from an agronomic, oenological and technical point of view and from an administrative and management point of view.
Laurence is qualified as an Agronomy Engineer from the Institut National Agronomique de Paris Grignon and as an Oenologist from the ENSA of Montpellier. Serving as a taster for the Conseil Oléicole International since 2001 and as Land and Agricultural Expert since 2008, Laurence has essential additional diversifications.
Jason Haas . USA
Partner and General Manager at Tablas Creek
Jason Haas is the second-generation proprietor of Tablas Creek, serving in the dual roles of Partner and General Manager. Son of Vineyard Brands founder (and Tablas Creek co-founder) Robert Haas, he grew up in the wine business, including spending two summers working at Château de Beaucastel.
After obtaining a Master’s Degree in Archaeology from Cornell and spending a four-year stint managing a tech company in Washington, DC, Jason moved to California to join Tablas Creek in April of 2002, where he oversees the business, winemaking, sales and marketing.In addition to his work at Tablas Creek, Jason has led the boards of directors of both the Rhone Rangers and the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, and is a board member of Free the Grapes. His writing has been published in Wine Business Monthly, Wines & Vines, Decanter, Wine Industry Network and Zester Daily. He is principal author of the Tablas Creek blog, a Wine Blog Awards finalist for Best Winery Blog eight times since 2008.
In recognition of his contributions to the Paso Robles wine community, he was voted by his peers 2015 Paso Robles Wine Country Wine Industry Person of the Year and 2017 San Luis Obispo County Wine Industry Person of the Year.