Thursday, March 21, 2019

Chickens Coming Home to Roost for Monsanto, Bayer and Roundup as Bayer Stock Drops, Drops, Drops...


Read Bloomberg's coverage of Bayer's losses here.

Aside from the billions of stock value lost, could the company stand to lose more?

"Elliott Management Corp....run by billionaire Paul Singer, wants the CEO to evaluate breaking Bayer into separate pharmaceutical and crop chemical companies, people familiar with the matter said in December."

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Science! New Soil Study Shows Carbon Sequestration 9-13% Higher for Biodynamic and Organic Viticulture Than Conventional

Source: Bonterra Organic Vineyards



Scientists from Pacific Agroecology conducted research on 13 vineyards. Nine were organic, three were Biodynamic and one was conventional.

Their findings? "Vineyards farmed with organic and Biodynamic methods stored 9.4%-12.8% more SOC per acre, respectively, than the conventionally farmed control vineyard."



Here is the full press release:

Source: Press Release

SEE THE VIDEO

MENDOCINO COUNTY, Calif., March 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- America's leading organically farmed wine, Bonterra Organic Vineyards ("Bonterra") continues its legacy of pioneering green viticulture with completion of a landmark soil study highlighting the benefits of organic and Biodynamic® farming on soil health.

Conducted by Pacific Agroecology on behalf of Bonterra, the study analyzed all of Bonterra's approximately 1,000 acres of Mendocino County vineyards, with results showing that Biodynamic sites hold the most soil organic carbon, followed closely by organic sites; both are superior in storing carbon to  conventional farming.

The soil study is the first research step in Bonterra's long-term commitment to understand, practice and promote the important topic of soil-carbon stewardship, and is in keeping with Bonterra's mission to champion regenerative agriculture as an important element in the global effort to address climate change.

Experience the interactive Multichannel News Release here: https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8255953-bonterra-organic-vineyards-organic-soil-study/

Organic and Biodynamic Vineyards Store 9-12% More Organic Carbon

Data from the 2017-2018 soil study1, which measure density of soil organic carbon (SOC), indicate that Bonterra's vineyards farmed with Biodynamic and organic farming methods correlate with 12.8% and 9.4% greater SOC levels, respectively, than those found in a similar vineyard site farmed conventionally. The research took place over 12 months on 13 vineyards (nine organic, three Biodynamic, and one conventional) across Mendocino County, and included more than 500 grapevine biomass samples and more than 100 soil samples from vines planted between 1987 and 2015. The same study reviewed soil and above-ground carbon stores in Bonterra's undeveloped wildlands, demonstrating that total carbon storage in wildlands remains higher than in production lands, indicating that continued conservation efforts are also beneficial.

The Impact of Organic Carbon Stored in Soil

"Soil organic carbon—something regenerative farming strives to enhance—is a signal of how well a landscape captures and stores carbon, and also contributes many long-term benefits to soil health, such as improved aeration, drought resistance, and erosion prevention," said Joseph Brinkley, director of vineyards for Bonterra. Bonterra strives to enhance soil health on its Mendocino farms through a coordinated mix of regenerative practices, including applying compost, planting cover crops, planned sheep grazing, reduced tillage regimes, enhanced insect and wildlife programs, and conservation of nearly 50% of its land in a natural state.

A 2017 report by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations entitled "Soil Organic Carbon: The Hidden Potential"2 states: "As an indicator for soil health, [soil organic carbon] is important for its contributions to food production, mitigation and adaptation to climate change." Elizabeth Drake, regenerative development manager for Bonterra Organic Vineyards, noted of Bonterra's recently completed study, "The results of this study provide early indication that regenerative farming practices lead to healthier, more productive soils, while contributing to the mitigation of climate change by holding more carbon underground."

Bonterra's Long-Term Commitment to Healthy Soil

Recently celebrating 30 years of organic farming, Bonterra remains passionate about building on its history of regenerative agriculture, and the soil study is the first research step in the winery's long-term commitment to understand, practice and promote the important topic of soil-carbon stewardship. Bonterra recently initiated a third-party peer-review process for the study so that its results may be further verified, and is also examining methods to conduct additional soil sampling to analyze vineyard carbon storage and carbon fluxes over longer periods. These efforts underscore a deeply rooted belief at Bonterra that regenerative farming practices offer compelling solutions for healthy soils, improved vine and grape quality, and a positive path forward for farming.

"We're excited about the potential impact of this study, which we hope inspires other farmers to examine the benefits of organic and Biodynamic agriculture," said Drake.

Visit bonterra.com/soil-study/ to learn more about the study, and bonterra.com/our-commitments to learn more about Bonterra's organic and Biodynamic farming practices, network of organic farms, and acclaimed wine collection. Follow Bonterra on Instagram and Facebook for informative news on healthy soils and farms, plus tips on organic lifestyle, cooking, and trends.

1 SOURCE: Morandé, J.A., M.G. Vaghti, J.N. Williams, J. Medellín-Azuara, & J.H. Viers. 2018. Carbon Inventory and Annual Increment Analysis of Vineyard Blocks and Adjoining Wildlands of Bonterra Organic Vineyards.  Pacific Agroecology LLC Project Report. Davis, CA. 25 ppd.
2 SOURCE: FAO 2017. Soil Organic Carbon: the hidden potential. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.

About Bonterra Organic Vineyards
Organically farmed and masterfully crafted, Bonterra Organic Vineyards epitomizes wines that are perfectly in tune with nature. A celebration of farm-fresh flavors, the portfolio features wines coaxed from the earth by careful farming practices carried out on a dynamic network of estate and partner farms throughout California. In addition to a widely available collection of organically farmed wines that includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Equinox Red and Rosé, Bonterra crafts a trio of sought-after single-vineyard offerings from estate Biodynamic® vineyards in Mendocino County, and The Elysian Collection Merlot, an elevated offering from organic grapes. Long before organic produce filled the shelves of neighborhood groceries, the dedicated team at Bonterra was committed to organic and Biodynamic® farming because they passionately believe that farms teeming with biodiversity—encompassing vines, insects and wildlife, and healthy soils—yield organic grapes leading to better wines.  www.Bonterra.com

About Pacific Agroecology
Pacific Agroecology LLC is an environmental research and consulting company dedicated to restoring balance between agriculture and natural systems. We believe that with proper stewardship, not only are economically viable cropping systems and natural habitat compatible, but they can be mutually reinforcing.  Humanity and ecosystems are interconnected at multiple levels, and only through an awareness and understanding of these connections can we find ways that both can thrive. Our clients range from worldwide leaders in the agricultural industry, to research institutions, to government agencies and policy makers.

I've asked for a copy of the actual study and will post a link to it here later when it's available.

Monsanto Trial on Roundup Concludes: Jury to Decide Case

Good synopsis of the testimony presented in the Monsanto Roundup trials about to conclude in San Francisco today can be found here.

It includes links to the expert reports and videos of expert witnesses for both sides.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Deep Roots Coalition's SF Tasting: The Organically Grown Wines

The Deep Roots Coalition is a band of Oregon winemakers who dry farm. They held a tasting yesterday in SF at Barcino for trade with "guest stars" John Williams from Frog's Leap. The wines featured here are all grown without irrigation. Many of the producers also label that fact on the back label of their wines.

Deep Roots is a great concept, but like so many wine classifications, it seems one dimensional. Some of the producers are not farming organically, and if wine quality and soil health matter, it's hard to understand that choice. (And do consumers really want to drink wine made from grapes whose roots have been treated with glyphosate?)

So yes, raise a glass to dry farming. But soil health and water retention are enhanced by organic farming. So if you are a lot about water as a resource, it's best to look at more than one dimension. That's true of a lot of one-factor wine movements of our times - Raw Wine (low sulfite levels), Glyphosate free (up to 10 ppb allowed), etc. etc.

Dry farming is a much more complex subject that invites further inquiry from buyers.

• Is it ok to till a lot of tillage in order to dry farm? Are there alternatives to tractor tillage? (i.e. animals)? Permanent cover crops (with just under vine cultivation) is a very popular choice.

• Or is it better to dry farm by planting less densely and on head trained vines, like Tablas Creek has done in its new 60+ acre vineyard in Paso Robles? (And like Philippe Coderey, a traditional vigneron from Provence, has done in new vineyards at Grimm's Bluff and Duvarita in Santa Barbara County?) There's more complexity to the concept of "dry farming" than meets the eye.

Is it good to get water use in vineyards more in the public eye? Yes, but the conversation should be a broader one, and one that's not just about Oregon winemakers. Most Californians would agree.

I'm not sure why Deep Roots is Oregon only since it's our state that traditionally faces drought and where consumer interest is high.

That said, I tasted through the dry farmed wines from certified organic or BD vines at the tasting and found a lot to like.

John Williams of Frog's Leap in Napa gives them hell at the Deep Roots Coalition
tasting in SF. His point? Napa farmers would get better flavors (but lower yields)
if they didn't irrigate and create shallow roots.

The Frog's Leap Zinfandel only gets better and better.
If ever there was an advertisement for Napa
tourists for Zinfandel, this is it.
OREGON WINES


It was great to finally taste face to face with Evesham Wood
owner and winemaker Erin Nuccio. The estate Le Puits Sec. Yes,
Wow. I get it now. (And for $40? Compared to many
Sonoma or California Pinots, that's a such deal).
We live in amazing times.


This is actually a single vineyard designate from
Temperance Hill. (And it says so on the back label).
Another Temperance Hill single vineyard designate.
The "same" vineyard has so many blocks and so many
expressions and interpretations.


My favorite wine at the tasting had to be the Sparkling
Blanc de Blanc from Johan vineyard's BD grapes.
I'm always looking for sparkling wines from organic
vines and they are few and far between from U.S.
producers. This is my new love! 

A totally new find for me: Eyrie's Trousseau (Noir). Done
as a bit of an experiment, I would say it's a total success.
I don't know of anyone else making this variety and
have only seen the white (Gris) version in California.
Only 300 cases made.
Other producers with organic or Biodynamic vines at the tasting include Brick House Vineyards and Brooks. I wanted to give a shout out to Brooks for their incredible Pinot Blanc from a newly certified Biodynamic vineyard in close proximity to Brooks' estate vines. Congrats on both the wine and the the Crannell family for seeking and getting certification. The best part, of course, is the taste of that wine! A great everyday wine - find it for $16 on wine.com.


                                                           CALIFORNIA WINES


California natural winemakers Les Lunes and Populis showed four dry farmed wines from Mendocino vines - two of them from old vines at Venturi Vineyards. I especially enjoyed the Wabi Sabi, a $22 red blend that's another great everyday wine.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Sonoma Mountain Book to Debut This Week













For details, click here.

Update on the Glyphosate Case: Hardeman, Santa Rosa Resident, Testifies



Yesterday, I had a chance to visit the current glyphosate trial in federal district court, a year after covering the original Science Week proceedings for Civil Eats and PRI. During Science Week, the leading cancer risk researchers and scientists presented their reports to Judge Chabbria, who determined what was and what was not "junk science." That laid the groundwork for the experts who will be able to testify in future federal proceedings on this topic.

This was scary then and it's still scary to see non-scientists learn about cancer risk assessment and place one's faith in them. Luckily the jury in the first state court case - the one that decided in favor of the plaintiff, DeWayne Lee Johnson - was very engaged and taking notes throughout the trial.

I know Chabbria's learned a lot more about the science of cancer risk assessment than he knew a year ago. Most of the same experts will be testifying again (as they did in the DeWayne Johnson trial) and in other proceedings.

Yesterday I arrived too late and missed getting a chance to see Mr. Hardeman, who is the plaintiff in this case. He used Roundup on his 50+ acre property in Santa Rosa to eliminate or control poison oak. He then contracted non Hodgkin lymphoma. Yesterday he demonstrated - with the use of sprayer - how he sprayed on a regular basis.

When I was there in the morning shortly after his appearance, the courtroom was filled with about 30 observers, many with laptops taking notes. A daily transcript - and daily summary posts - are published and available on the U.S. Right to Know website.

At the lunch break in the court cafeteria, I did briefly meet and say hi to reporter Sam Levin who is reporting on the case for The Guardian. Here's his latest story from yesterday. Hardeman said he sprayed Roundup for 3-4 hours monthly.

My biggest concern is that this jury did not appear as engaged during expert science testimony. No one was taking notes. Two women had eyes that appeared glazed over by the details. That's understandable. The plaintiff's attorneys really have their work cut out for them in this trial.

For reasons I have yet to understand (but hope to learn more about), Judge Chabbria granted Monsanto's request to divide the trial into two phases - one in which the jurors will not be able to learn about the company's ne'er do well involvement in getting reputable journals to publish industry sponsored research.

In phase two, that's apparently going to be fair game. But there will only be a phase two if the decision of the jury is unanimous.

Slow Wine Guide, Part 2: Organic and BD Producers' "Great Wines" From Certified Vines



"GREAT WINES" FROM ORGANIC OR BD VINES

Fourteen wines from certified vineyards in the U.S. received the prestigious designation of Great Wine from Slow Wine in its 2019 Guide.

In particular, three remarkably young producers appear on this list:
• Analemma, in Oregon, for its Mencia (a Spanish grape) from the Columbia Gorge.
• Grimm's Bluff, in Santa Barbara County's Happy Canyon appellation, for its second vintage of its estate Cab.
• Solminer, also in Santa Barbara County, was recognized for its Rubellite Syrah made with carbonic maceration.

All three are Biodynamic vineyards and the first two wines were featured at the International Biodynamic Wine Conference last year. (Solminer was certified just after the conference).

This kind of recognition for these new producers is unprecedented. And a tribute to high farming and winemaking standards.

Bordeaux Blend
• Eisele Vineyard - Altagracia
Partially BD estate wine, partially purchases fruit.
(Note: the price was listed in error in the guide at $66 - a girl can only dream that it's $66. Luckily it's $25 a glass at a Calistoga hotel near the winery.)

Cabernet Sauvignon
• Grgich Hills Estate - Estate
A Napa cab that isn't $100! (It's $71).
• Grimm's Bluff - Estate | BD
This is a breakthrough for a young BD producer - Congrats! And well deserved recognition. Biodynamic vineyard manager Philippe Coderey planted these vines not so long ago, and look what the result is. This is only the second vintage from this estate.
• Heitz - Martha's Vineyard
One of the most decorated wines from the U.S. for decades.
• Ridge Vineyards - Estate (not the Monte Bello)
(Happy to have two cases of this aging in my cellar)

Mencia
• Analemma Wines | BD
Another big surprise win! Congrats!

Pinot Noir 
• Brick House Vineyards | Evelyn's BD
Mom (Evelyn) must be proud!
• Eyrie Vineyards - Original Vines
The classic.
• Radio-Coteau - Terra Neuma | BD
Another one of my personal favorites. Swoonworthy.

Red Rhone Blend
• Tablas Creek - Esprit de Tablas | BD
The bet on finding a place to grow mourvedre paid off.

Syrah
• Solminer - Rubellite (carbonic maceration)
Only 100 cases made.

White Alsatian Blend
• Robert Sinskey Vineyards
One of my favorite whites from Napa.

Zinfandel
• Winery Sixteen 600
Only 84 cases made.

Sparkling 
Soter Vineyards - Mineral Ranch Brut Rosé | BD

Slow Wine Guide, Part 1: California and Oregon Picks: Biodynamic, Organic Producers Win Top Awards

Alex Davis from Porter Creek Vineyards in Sonoma, which won a Snail award,
at the Slow Wine tasting at Pier 27 Monday. 
Slow Wine released its 2019 guide this week announcing its Snail awards to Italian, California and Oregon wineries. U.S. Organic and Biodynamic producers took 18 out of the 44 U.S. top spots.

BIODYNAMIC SNAILS

Among the top winners for the group's top award - the Snail - were 7 Biodynamic wineries (out of 34 total) from California and 5 Biodynamic wineries (out of 10) from Oregon. The Snail represents wineries with "high quality wines, originality, respect for the land and environment."

That's 20% of the California snails and 50% of the Oregon snails. Considering Biodynamic certification is rather rare, this is a very impressive showing.

CALIFORNIA

Paso
• AmByth Estate
• Villa Creek Cellars

SBC
• Beckmen Vineyards
• Grimm's Bluff
• Solminer

Sonoma
• Porter Creek Vineyards
• Radio-Coteau

Claire Jarreau, asst. winemaker for Brooks,
which won a Snail award
OREGON

Willamette Valley AVA

Eola-Amity Hills
• Brooks

Ribbon Ridge
• Brick House

Willamette Valley
• Cooper Mountain Vineyards

Van Duzer Corridor AVA
• Johan Vineyards

Applegate Valley AVA (southern Oregon)
• Troon Vineyard (in transition to BD certification)

I'm happy to say that all but one of these exhibited at the International Biodynamic Wine Conference last year. Bravo to the Snails!

ORGANIC SNAILS

And, of course, more kudos to all of the Snails with certified organic estates! Organic certification in the U.S. is about 2 percent or less, so this is also a very special group of producers.

CALIFORNIA

Mendocino
Anderson Valley

• Drew

Napa Valley

• Frog's Leap
• Matthiasson
• Storybook Mountain Vineyards


OREGON

Willamette Valley AVA
• Eyrie Vineyards
• Lumos Wine Co.
The Eyrie Pinot from Original Vines also
won a Great Wine award

AN APPRECIATION

It is hard work for these producers to farm organically and it's probably not a lot of fun to get certified. But quality and commitment (certification) shows and the extra effort is appreciated. Let it not go unrecognized.