Last week was a very good week. Lots of new vines and 26 tons of chicken litter made it into the ground before a big soaking rain. The final blocks of Cabernet are nearly all pruned. We saw the first buds of chardonnay swell. And the barn swallows returned to take up residence under the winery deck.

We are back 100% in the vineyard, which is supremely rewarding.

My passion for winegrowing extends beyond my own farm. Annual visits to progressive growers stimulates professional and personal outlooks. Reading can do the same. I recently read an interview with esteemed Burgundian producer Laurent Ponsot who was asked about his farming techniques. He explained that for years he has been incorporating organic and biodynamic methods in his vineyards, but has no interest in becoming certified in these practices. I have heard this many times before, but Ponsot used a term that struck a cord with me:“restrictive agricultural practices”.

Most experienced farmers make decisions day by day based on reactions to weather, observation and intuition. We don’t have a rigid rigid playbook and aren’t very interested in playing by someone else’s rules. Organic and biodynamic framing practices are tried and true. I have learned much by studying and understanding their philosophies and techniques. Unfortunately, certain terminologies have fallen into the hands of clever marketers and these farming practices have become brands bantered about without any definition or true meaning. Certification is rigid and can be detrimental to good farming practices if unusual weather circumstances arise (which seems to be happening more frequently).

I started my farming adventure in 1977. At that time the buzz words were “good farming practices”. And that’s good enough for me.