Friday, July 26, 2013

IN PHOTOS: Napa's Organic Growers Annual Powwow

More than 150 people attended the annual Napa Valley Grapegrowers Organic Conference Thursday listening to a wide cross section of experts very much focused on the latest thinking and evolving knowledge in the organic viticulture industry.

In his keynote, Long Meadow Ranch CEO and organic entrepreneur Ted Hall, whose background is in corporate business consulting, stressed the need for organic viticulture to get away from being about what he called the no's - i.e. no pesticides, no herbicides, etc. - and toward the pro's of organic vineyards. "We produce better products at lower prices," he said, speaking of his sizable integrated organic operations, encompassing vineyards, olives, farming, cattle and restaurant businesses.

Professor Jepson spoke about IPM Prime, an online tool for pesticide risk assessment and mitigation that models a variety of options from low risk to high risk IPM choices to help users balance IPM needs and environmental impacts. The tool is currently in beta.

Part of Jepson's findings show that organically approved IPM products can have greater adverse effects on beneficial lacewings than more toxic (to humans) alternatives.

Professor Kate Scow from U.C. Davis, Deputy Director of Agricultural Sustainability Institute, presented the latest research on soil processes, in a presentation called "Soil Microbes, Carbon and Nitrogen Cycling in Agroecosystems," saying that new methods of observation have now created new models, supplanting older models that have been used for decades. The new models present a far more dynamic picture of soil formation and cycles.

Another fascinating presentation came from livestock expert Kelly Mulville of Holistic Viticulture, who says his work on using livestock in vineyards can dramatically reduce suckering costs and other variables by grazing animals in vineyards in the springtime, rather than just winter.

I audiotaped some of the sessions and hope to post transcripts from several of the talks online later.

Update/July 27, 2013: Ted Hall's opening remarks are now online here.

Ted Hall of Long Meadow Ranch

Professor Paul Jepson from Oregon State
Kelly Mulville of Holistic Viticulture
Vineyardists panel on organic hillside vineyards
In addition, there were two grower panels - one with three growers across three counties (Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino) and another on the unique aspects of hillside organic vineyards.

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