June 29, 2020 Articles & Resources

Sustainable Research & Education (SARE)

An agronomist recently turned me on to some farming resources by SARE, a group funded by the US Department of Agriculture, that are free and of high quality.

In particular, they have some free books that are well worth reading or using as a reference. Everything is free and downloadable as a PDF, MOBI, or ePub. These books in particular caught my interest:

  1. Building Soils for Better Crops (3rd Edition)
  2. Managing Cover Crops Profitable (3rd Edition)
  3. Steel in the Field: A Farmer’s Guide to Weed Management Tools

Petiole Sampling for $43/sample

We’ve been offering petiole sampling for a while but have never really advertised it. As A&L charges $55/sample, we can save you money. 

While I strongly believe openness, honesty and methodology of our lab, there’s really no major difference in our plant tissue testing. The report you get will be all but identical. The only difference is we don’t do Al or Na as they’re not really agriculturally relevant, but it can be included upon request.  

Our sampling guide is here

Feel free to contact me for more info. 

Articles & Resources

Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:

Farming & Winemaking

Why Calcareous Soils Matter for Vineyards
This immediately peaked my interest even though the soil characteristics of this vineyard aren’t the same we see.  Interesting that they see higher acid at harvest: “High calcium levels displace potassium in the soils, inhibiting this chemical process and leaving more acidity at any given sugar level.” He talks more about roots and disease resistance as well.

Bees in the Vineyard and the Damage of Sivanto Insecticide
It’s hard to imagine a future of farming, vineyard or otherwise, that doesn’t involve a dramatic reduction in all “-icides”. The more information we have, the worse our recent management practices seem. 

Climate Change the Latest Challenge for Burgundy
In a global negative for the world, and for the Old World wine world, it’s an opportunity in the new world. Orgeon is a great example with all those Burgundy winemakers now calling it home. But this will be a challenge for us here, with more weird winters and uncertain weather. 

The Inertia of Integrity: The Wines of Edmunds St. John
This is a wonderful interview. 

Biodynamic CCOF Webinar
You can tell biodynamics has become a hot topic again. 


Uncertain Future for Small Wineries Post-Covid
A well-balanced take on the benefits and challenges of big brands dominating more and more of the winery landscape. This article is based in the States, but obviously we’re seeing similar forces here. A healthy market involves both big brands and small wineries. The positive path forward I see for small wineries is leaning heavily into their own character and uniqueness, and being nimble where the big brands can’t. 

Despite High Sales, COVID-19 Has Taken a Toll on California’s Independent Wineries
I still see this as an opportunity. I’ve already had positive experiences with wineries being more tech savvy, friendly, and consumer-focused. That’s the path forward.

Wines Are Judged By Their Covers
A good reminder on the importance of wine labels. 

What’s Next in the New Normal
What is the new normal? Good discussion with no answers. 

Two Innovative Oregon Beverage Companies Collaborate on a Bold, New Adventure
Canned wine. 

Why I hate Female Sommeliers and So Should You
Hint: It’s the adjective. On a positive note, our first 3 experts on BC Wine Weekly (and 50% of our experts) have been women. Why? Because they’re really good at their jobs. 


Cabernet Bluff
Just a beautiful photo in Grimm’s Bluff, California. 

Heidegger on Drinking and Thinking
Combines my love of philosophy with wine. Heidegger loved wine from Baden, who new? Although I’m not surprised the wine was a “thirst quencher”. For all his arrogance, I have trouble picturing Heidegger with sophisticated taste. 

New York Times on Why You Should Drink Riesling
I know I’m preaching to the converted here. But a fun article, and a good share on social.

What Corks Can Reveal About the Wine in Your Bottle
All about the cork. 

Robots Armed with UV Light Fight Grape Mildew
As a company obsessed with combining technology with farming, even I think the “robot does X” trope is overdone. As Jaques Ellul said, we do it because we can, not because we should. Case in point – who needs this massive machine? 

A Love Affair with Assyrtiko
I’ve been enjoying some excellent Greek wine recently and I’ll have to find some Assyrtiko.

See you Thursday,

Christopher Mark


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