Tuesday, February 25, 2020

OSU Class: Vineyard soils & harvest

Checking out an Oregon State Univ. soil class at Emerson Vineyards during grape harvest.  The class is led by James Cassidy (SOIL t-shirt and feudora hat) of the Crop and Soil Sciences faculty and advisor of the university's Organic Growers Club.  His wife Nina is the winemaker and their combined knowledge make a great duo in growing and making award-winning pinot noir wine.

This vineyard is unique in both soil and microclimate.  Due to unusually hot and dry summer, this year's wine grape harvest throughout the northwest was several weeks early, but the microclimate on this 300' south facing hillside kept things cool and harvest is just underway.

James explained that the Oregon state soil is Jory, with glacial mineral origins, and advocated by James while he was president of Oregon Society of Soil Scientists, so it is ironic that these vineyards are Willakenzie sedimentary sea type soils, giving their wines a unique terroir from its neighbors.

Roughly 20 students took soil samples from throughout the vineyards and James explained to students how soil content helps determine where vines are planted and how the nutrients and microbes play a key in vineyard management and terroir.  Then, students were encouraged to help with harvest and taste the grapes.  At the end of the session, James and Mina gave the students a terrific wine-tasting, explaining the finer points of the wines.

Vineyards do not need a lot of fertilizers, as stress helps vines to force fruiting, but it is clear that nutrients play a huge part in terroir.  Since amino acids are chelate agents, helping bind to nutrients and making available to plants, it seems there is a place for the amino acids catalyst in Be-1.  More testing needs to be done.

In the 80s, James was in the band Information Society and had a no. 1 pop song called Pure Energy.  No doubt this experience helped him to become a soil evangelist and being one of the most popular professors at OSU.