The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has named “nature-based solutions,” including carbon farming, as one of the top five solutions to climate change. Grape growers have a proactive role they can play in both building more resilient vineyards and mitigating climate change. Practices like cover crops, compost, and conservation tillage build soil health, water and nutrient retention and plant delivery, resiliency to drought and high heat AND they store more carbon in the soil.
During this Salon, freelance journalist, author and professor Dr. Mark Gudgel will moderate a conversation with Kelly Mulville of Paicines Ranch, Ivo Jeramaz with Grgich Estate, and Natalie Winkler from Salvestrin Winery about the soil microbiome and the underground brain of the vine. This powerhouse group will discuss decades of science, ongoing research, and their own experience with the benefits of expanding regenerative farming practices in the vineyard.
Dr. Mark Gudgel is an eighteen-year veteran of teaching high school English and presently serves as assistant professor of education at the College of Saint Mary in Omaha. Gudgel is a Fulbright Scholar and a sought-after speaker. His 2012 TED talk is entitled “Empowering young people to repair the world.”
After honeymooning in Wine Country, Mark and his wife, Sonja, began a wine blog and soon after he was recruited as a regular correspondent for American Winery Guide. From there, Gudgel went on to write for Food & Spirits, Dine, Edible Omaha, and numerous other publications. Today, Gudgel is a regular contributor to Edible Marin & Wine Country and Napa Valley Life magazines. Gudgel’s book on teaching about the Holocaust, Think Higher Feel Deeper: Holocaust education in the secondary classroom, was released from Teachers College Press in 2021. His forthcoming book, The Rise of Napa Valley Wineries: How the Judgment of Paris put California wine on the map, focuses on the wine industry and issues that surround it, and will be released from History Press in May of 2023. Gudgel is also the president of the board of directors of the vinNEBRASKA Foundation, which raises money for local charities and offer scholarships to aspiring culinary arts students and wine professionals.
Presently, in addition to academic research and teaching, Gudgel is working on another book on the Napa Valley. When he isn’t teaching or writing, Gudgel runs marathons, volunteers at his kids’ school, and plays board games with his family. He lives in Omaha with his wife, Sonja, and their children, Titus and Zooey.
For the past 25 years Kelly has managed, designed and consulted with vineyards, farms and ranches throughout the western USA, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. His work focuses on designing and creating agricultural systems and practices that restore ecological health, increase biodiversity, create resiliency to climate change, and increase profitability and beauty.
Kelly is vineyard director at Paicines Ranch.
Ivo was born in Croatia to a family of grape growers and as boy he assisted in making wine for his family’s enjoyment. However, he didn’t plan on becoming a winemaker. Ivo earned a master’s of science degree in engineering from the University of Zagreb and dreamed of coming to California to work as an engineer. In 1986, with the help of his uncle, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, Ivo followed his dream and came to Napa Valley. He quickly fell in love with the scenic beauty of the area and became fascinated with wine making. Ivo decided on a career change and Mike immediately put him to work washing barrels. During his almost-three decades at Grgich Hills Ivo has worked his way up in responsibility, learning the classic style and art of winemaking from his uncle, supported by the tools of science and technology. “There’s nothing in the winery or vineyard that I haven’t done, not just for one day, but really worked at it,” he explains.
Natalie’s enthusiasm for viticulture and winemaking began in an inconspicuous way. She landed a gig at a local wine bar while attending the University of Oregon. Immediately she was smitten by the variety of wines grown all over the glove. A friend and mentor suggested working a harvest abroad. Recently graduated and fluent in Spanish, Natalie jumped on a plane to Spain in 2009 for vintage at Bodega Elias Mora in Toro. Once she had dirty vineyard boots and purple hands, suddenly her future became very clear.
Currently Natalie works as viticulturist and winemaker at Salvestrin Winery in St. Helena, Napa Valley where she spearheaded the transition of the Dr. Crane Vineyard to organic and regenerative farming. She continues experimenting with biodynamics. Natalie is very keen on farming as the key to premium wine quality.
She holds a BA in Spanish and Political Science (University of Oregon) and a Master’s in Viticulture and Enology from the University of Valladolid in Ribera del Duero, Spain.