On this episode, we have Nicole Dooling and Michael Frey who are the 2nd generation operators of Mariah Vineyards and the Creators of Dirt Wine.
Mariah Vineyards is supporting regenerative agriculture as the first Land-To-Market Verified regenerative vineyard. This couple is working with their family to sell wine under the Mariah Vineyards brand while also developing a new concept in Dirt Wine that will be in the market soon.
In this episode, we learn about the history of this family-run, mountain-top vineyard, we take a deep dive into their transition to regenerative agriculture, plus Nicole and Michael spend time educating us on current under-discussed issues in the wine industry like shallow sustainability certifications, the use of over 70 additives in wine, and more.
🍇 Their unique vineyard and AVA (American Viticultural Area)
⛰️ Nicoles’ parents building a mountain-top vineyard from scratch
🍷 Launching the Mariah brand with Brown-Forman
🤔 Why wine is valued by where it’s grown versus how it's grown
☑️ How to know if your wine is sourced from only one vineyard
🤯 The 70+ additives that can be in your wine
❤️ How their relationship changed the direction of the vineyard
🔥 Being inspired at The Regenerative Earth Summit
🥇 Being the world’s 1st Land To Market Verified Vineyard
🪱 Dry-farming, permanent cover, no-till, and animal integration
American Viticulture Area (AVA)
ReGen Brands Recap #32 - The World's First Land To Market Verified Vineyard - (RECAP LINK)
Disclaimer: This transcript was generated with AI and is not 100% accurate.
Kyle Krull - 0:00:16
Welcome to The ReGen Brands Podcast. This is a place for consumers, operators, and investors to learn about the consumer brands supporting regenerative agriculture and how they're changing the world. This is your host, Kyle, joined by my cohost, AC, who is going to take us into the episode.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:00:33
On this episode we have Nicole Dueling and Michael Frye who are the second generation operators of Mariah Vineyards and the creators of Dirt Wine. Mariah Vineyards is supporting regenerative agriculture as the first Land To Market verified regenerative vineyard in the world and this couple is working with their family to sell wine under the Mariah Vineyards brand while also developing a new concept in dirt wine that will be in the market soon. In this episode we learn about the history of this family run mountaintop vineyard. We take a deep dive into their transition to regenerative agriculture. Plus Nicole and Michael spend time educating us on the current under discussed issues in the wine industry like shallow sustainability certifications, the use of over 70 additives in wine and more. There is a ton of great information in this one and it was super educational for Kyle and I to take our first deep dive into wine. We hope you enjoy and learn as much as we did. Let's dive in.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:01:03
What's up everybody? Welcome back to another episode of The ReGen Brands Podcast. Super Fired up today to have our friends Nicole and Michael from Mariah Vineyards and Dirt Wine with us. So welcome, y'all.
Michael Frey - 0:01:44
Thank you for having us. Yes.
Nicole Dooling - 0:01:45
Thanks. Glad to be here.
Kyle Krull - 0:01:48
No sweat we're we're super excited to have you. This is our first episode with wine, which we've never.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:01:53
Let's go. Let's go.
Kyle Krull - 0:01:55
I also, as I as I just told Nicole and Michael a moment ago, I've also never had a glass of wine in my life. That doesn't mean I'm not interested in this. I think that, you know, wine is a unique opportunity to discuss flavor profiles and depth of flavor and how soil can affect that is really, really interesting. And I think there's a lot of opportunity for that industry to lead the way in the regenerative movement just because it's such a complicated, you know, group of consumers who are looking for very specific things, right. So for those who are unfamiliar with the brand, and I know that there's like a couple of different levels of brand here. Give us a quick lay of the land up, like, you know, what Mariah Vineyards produces and what dirt produces here and now, just so our consumers can understand, you know, who we're talking to.
Nicole Dooling - 0:02:43
OK, so Mariah Vineyards is a is is a vineyard up in Mendocino County in the Mendocino Ridge Ava. That my parents founded in 1979 and planted originally Zinfandel. Then for many, many years they sold fruit to multiple different wineries and eventually in around 2006, 2007, they started making their own wine from that brand. Or from is it?
Kyle Krull - 0:03:17
Still in Dale today or there other varieties?
Nicole Dooling - 0:03:21
Different things today. We have, I mean, we can get into the story of Mariah, but basically that is the vineyard that my parents started from the ground up, literally. I mean nothing on this mountaintop. It's at 2400 feet.
Michael Frey - 0:03:38
No, no, but. But to make that clear, it's it's surrounded by forest, it's on the spring, it's on solar. So it's completely off the grip. It's, you know for me as a Swiss, it's absolutely insane that up on the top and and builds a vineyard, it's absolutely impressed.
Nicole Dooling - 0:03:57
My dad was very. His passion. He wanted to plant, plant a mountain vineyard and he found one way out, or he found the land way out there and planted it. That's where he grew up and. Let me tell you, when you're a kid, it's really great. And then when you're a teenager, you're like, this sucks because I live really far from everything and hour to school, like it was really far. We had a generator when I was younger. We have had solar for a long time now. So you know, you get home from school and you know there's no TV to turn on because the generator is not on. So looking back, I appreciate all these things, but as a kid you were like, wow, I'm very different than everybody else. You.
Kyle Krull - 0:04:39
Know the food in the booties.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:04:40
For those that aren't familiar with. Yeah. For those that aren't familiar with California geography, Nicole, like what's the nearest city or put it into perspective for some folks?
Nicole Dooling - 0:04:48
OK. Yeah. So Mendocino County is north of Sonoma County, which is even more so. It's, you know, San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma County and then Mendocino County, so.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:05:00
Nicole Dooling - 0:05:01
About 3 hours north of San Francisco, you're in the Mendocino Ridge Ava. In in the vineyard world there's things called Ava's American Viticulture areas, and my dad and a couple other growers up in the Ridge top started the Ava of Mendocino Ridge a lot 20 something years ago now. And it's the only non contiguous high ABA in the country and so basically the the.
Michael Frey - 0:05:32
It starts at 2002.
Nicole Dooling - 0:05:34
100, yeah. It's it's only the Ridge tops at 1200 feet and above in this like 1 coastal Ridge section of Menzia family. So it's very, very specific it has. A handful of vineyards and up there, it's really unique. All mountain mountain vineyards and our vineyard is at 2400 feet dry farms and yeah, we can get into the farming more. But sorry, that was a long explanation of Maria Vineyards. But it's yeah, it's it's family and it's my dad's been farming it and my my parents have been running it and farming it for like all of it. Everything. Yeah.
Michael Frey - 0:06:11
For for a consumer site we are producing. No, Noir, we are producing Pinot Noir. We have several clones of Pinot Noir. We have several clones of of Chardonnay. We produce a Primitivo rose under the brand Mariah. And the dirt is project of Nicole and I. It's not the it's not the wine yet it's still in process but it's.
Michael Frey - 0:06:14
It's it's more it's more a path that we try to to to go on to to create transparency in the wine industry. There's a lot of stuff that we learned during our grower, our grower career and and our experience out of the wine industry that we think is a disservice for consumers. So I think it's time that that somebody is speaking up and and disrupts a little bit so.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:07:04
Yeah. We're we're definitely going to dive into that. And I think knowing a little bit about y'all's back story, you know, we we break it up in like 3 or 4 parts, right. So there's like how it all started and then being a pure grower that sold most of the fruit to other wine makers, then kind of bringing the winemaking inhouse, having your own brand and then this like regenerative transition and now that's like future vision for dirt. So let's take those in chunks, right? Let's go all the way back. Like Nicole's kind of alluded to, to her parents getting started and just.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:07:05
How did this all come about? And then, you know, get us, get us rolling there, Nicole.
Nicole Dooling - 0:07:37
OK, so my parents, Dan and Vicki, they looked for property for years and ended up climbing this mountaintop property. It's about 90 and it's about 90 acres. It is about currently it is about 30 acres of vineyard, 30 acres of. What we call the backfield, which is kind of been my little regenerative playground later. And yeah, really cool stuff. And then and then there's about 38 is a forest surrounding it. So literally you take a drone up and you look around and I mean it just is literally on the top of this mountain and everything kind of falls around it. So the way the crow flies, it's about four or five miles to the ocean.
Nicole Dooling - 0:08:02
OK, all town Point Arenas and Manchester is down the road, but and then Anderson Valley the other way, which is a big also a.
Michael Frey - 0:08:40
Nicole Dooling - 0:08:41
Wine region, yeah, it's very well known for Pinot, but valley floor kind of vineyards down down there, maybe up into the mountains a little bit. But so and as I mentioned, the Mendocino Ridge Ava is a pretty unique Ava based on elevation and I'm not going to get too detailed into it, but. Elevation has a lot to do with the acidity and fruit, that it's just different growing region completely.
Michael Frey - 0:09:09
Also different. It's also different for farming because you're really exposed and you have over 100 inches of rain and.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:09:18
Michael Frey - 0:09:19
Quite severe storms, so.
Nicole Dooling - 0:09:21
So we get snow, and this year we got quite a bit of snow, but we get snow at times we're at 20 feet. And my dad's dream was to have, you know, this mountaintop vineyard. And my mom is very much involved. They planted it in 1980, I think was the first actual planting. And it was Infidel, originally Zinfandel, a long time ago, a lot of battalions went up to this region and they planted Zinfandel because you plant what makes sense. And Zinfandel did well in that region. They planted that.
Nicole Dooling - 0:09:27
I mean they're, I mean, hard labor. They lived in a tent for a little while, then they moved into this old sheep shack that was like on the property, tiny little cabin. Uh, there's a lot of old pictures on our website, actually. You can check them out. But they lived in this little cabin for like 3 years. I mean they had a, they had a nice chest and then a freezer in Boonville at their friend's house and they Wow.
Kyle Krull - 0:10:17
I mean the true labor of love. You don't do this unless you really care about making a wine.
Nicole Dooling - 0:10:24
Yeah, building a vineyard, I mean it takes you know oftentimes about three years to until you get your first, you get your first crop. So their first crop, which I'm going to age myself here, but their first crop was 1983, the year I was born and they had their first, their first harvest. They sold I think all the fruit went to Kendall Jackson KJ at the time and. Yeah, Since then they've been basically growing a vineyard. And then they also four kids were raised up on this tiny mountaintop. My mom was, you know, working in the vineyard and dealing with taking us all to school, taking care of us. It was it was very family run.
Michael Frey - 0:11:08
Nicole Dooling - 0:11:10
Anthony Corsaro - 0:11:11
Nicole Dooling - 0:11:12
And as I mentioned, he they sold most of their fruit to. Kendall Jackson and then Fetzer and some other kind of bigger wineries. And then I I don't know the exact year, but at one point they ended up having this great contract with Brown Foreman, who ended up taking all of the Zinfandel and they made a highend. Brand out of Mariah and they made a Mariah wine. It was the first time really Mariah.
Kyle Krull - 0:11:42
Why the name Mariah became a thing? I have a sister whose name is Mariah and it's a very.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:11:47
Rare. Oh wow.
Kyle Krull - 0:11:49
Curious. Curious where they came from. Yeah, gotta give her a shout out, you know?
Nicole Dooling - 0:11:53
Well, yes, my dad, which I he would be a great guy to have a podcast, but he is very. He, I guess, sat in this movie theater a long time ago and watched this movie called Paint Your Wagon, which I'm sure none of us have. I mean, I haven't even seen the one, but there's a wagon. Your wagon. I mean, my dad loves his old movie. I mean, he was like, so bonanza mash, like all this stuff was like his Damn, but he paint your wagon.
Nicole Dooling - 0:12:05
And there's a there's a it's a musical, I think. And there is a part of it. And there's a song called They called The Wind Mariah and apparently that movie theater, his stories change all the time. But like he sat in his theater and he was already looking for one in a mountain vineyard. He he went to anyway. He he went to all these schools and study ended up studying viticulture and.
Nicole Dooling - 0:12:32
He's looking for a vineyard and he decided I'm going to call my mountain vineyard, Mariah, because.
Michael Frey - 0:13:02
They call, they call the wind Mariah. And because we are on the mountaintop, we have constant wind. So it makes sense, yeah.
Nicole Dooling - 0:13:10
So that's the name where and then when they so they they went into this contract for quite a few years, which as a grower and as a farmer that is. Awesome, because it's really, really hard as I'm sure you know from, you know being in this regenerative space like farmers are really the bottom of the bottom of whole food chain and so to have a contract where you have the option that you can sell your your product and. You know, aside from weather, different things, different tonnages. Every year is very different. It's a, you know, very vintage situation where every year weather really matters. And it was a seat, it was a great safety net, a really good contract for them. So anyway, they made a high.
Michael Frey - 0:14:03
It was awesome brown form in this Jack Daniels. And then they really put the Mariah brand on the map. So there was a lot of energy and power in the back. They made beautiful wooden cases, they had edge glass and they sold the Mariah wine to to highend restaurants. So, so for for Mariah, it was an absolutely, absolutely blessing.
Nicole Dooling - 0:14:28
Yeah, and for Mendocino Ridge, ABA, which they allude to as oftentimes as which as islands in the sky. And because these mountaintops come up and the fog comes in underneath in the into.
Kyle Krull - 0:14:43
The cool visual that I mean, It's a that's really cool.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:14:47
Yeah, I just think it's important to highlight what Y'all just said around what what did we just talk about there? We talked about the theme of. Brown Farm is a huge brand, right. And so we we tend to focus on you know smaller or medium sized brands, but the brand interacts with the consumers and creates the market and helps the farmer Dr. profitability which is the whole point of this podcast. And I think the work we're trying to do is evangelize about the fact that. To support growers, we have to support the brands and there's this awesome symbiotic relationship between those two and all those things that you just kind of mentioned both of you. And so I just want to highlight that because that's that's the whole purpose of what we're trying to talk about and that's going to shift with what Y'all are doing in terms of how the brand is interacting with your own brand or not or whatever. But that's the whole point, right?
Michael Frey - 0:15:30
It's it's I think, I think a specialty of the wine industry. I know I I shift the topic a little bit about this is Appalachians. So, so I think there's there's not as an Appalachian that's premium, then there's Sonoma and then there's the other Appalachians and we are getting paid depending on where we grow, where we grow already. So you know it doesn't. We don't get the premium for organic fruit, we don't get a premium for.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:16:07
Michael Frey - 0:16:08
Something else. So it's really, really dependent like a class system, it's really dependent on application. So if we speak about brands and support, the important part for for growers is all is always how do we get a premium. For good work, you know, so we generate if we, if we elevate our fruit, if we have the cleanest nature positive fruit, how do we get the premium out of that?
Kyle Krull - 0:16:35
That is fascinating and it makes so much sense. Is this something I never really thought about? And again, like my level of ignorance on this call and even for our listeners, like I am for sure the least educated person in the room when we talk about 100%. Nicole has already corrected me subtly once when I mentioned, you know, people who make wine and she she's like, you know, no starting a venue. And there's a difference there and that's one of the things I want to kind of hone in on a little bit is my assumption as a very ignorant non wine consumer is that most wines are growing their own grapes and I'm feeling and learning that is not even close to being true. So I'd be curious to know from your perspective how like you can ballpark these figures. I don't expect anybody to know the stuff on top of their head, but for the for the wine industry. How many of the brands are actually growing their own grapes are vertically integrated in that way? If you were to guess, is it 50%, is it 70%? Is 20% what you take on?
Michael Frey - 0:17:31
That I think, I think it really depends. So, so it really depends where you are. So, so in Europe it's, it's more the vineyard, vineyard style where the farmer is also the winemaker, in the states it is. It's really hard to put a figure in, but I think you will find barely somebody that farms his own fruit and produces the wine. It's a really high figure of of wineries that purchase fruit without farming them. And then when you want to grow a brand, right, you also have to purchase fruit, you know, so, so a winery reaching a point where they can produce certain cases from their property and then they purchase the rest. So it's a mix.
Nicole Dooling - 0:18:25
They buy. They buy. Yeah.
Michael Frey - 0:18:27
But the percentage is really high that you have but.
Kyle Krull - 0:18:30
It becomes important when we talk about the price you get paid. Is not necessarily based on the qualities, based on the region. So you know there's a there's a finite amount of land in Napa or a finite amount of land in Sonoma. So regardless of how great your practices are, the quality of your grapes, if you're not in that region, the Appalachian like you mentioned, there's not really a lot you can do. And it feels like if I'm if I'm reading the right on the wall, that's what dirt is trying to solve for. Is that correct?
Michael Frey - 0:18:58
It's a, it's a. It's everything, everything turns around supply and demand right. So I it's really difficult to break out the Appalachian system but it's possible that's why we went down the the path of a Land To Market verification because it allowed us to build climber resilience on one side and we really that in the wine industry it's you know if you look back at last year and then and and the rain that we have. Climber, climber, resilience is everything. And then on the 2nd and then on the second thing, it was for the business side. It allowed us to differentiate our fruit out of this ocean of wine. Yeah, also so and then you can break out so, but it's difficult.
Nicole Dooling - 0:19:50
On the tail end of that, I think this is something important for consumers to know and understand in the wine industry because. It's really Gray area. Like every you know, you buy a brand, you buy a bottle of wine from a well, let's just say nap. It doesn't matter where it is, but you buy a bottle of wine from let's say a winery in Napa somewhere, right? But maybe they have in your maybe they don't, right. You have to really look at the bottle and you can look at a bottle and you if it's a single in your designate.
Nicole Dooling - 0:19:58
Is where it'll say the name of the vineyard on the bottle. You know that I think it's around that like pretty much that all of the fruit in that bottle was made from wine from that specific vineyard. Wines out there, you will not see you're designate right. So that is one way and some consumers and you know wine geeks there like of course they know these things right when they look for it. They look for Appalachians like car narrows and all these things.
Nicole Dooling - 0:20:20
But the general people, like a lot of people in our generation, don't know. I mean, I had a friend at work tell me about this natural wine from Mount Shasta, and I was like, where did the fruit come from? He's like Shasta, of course. And I was like, I don't think they're growing grapes on.
Michael Frey - 0:21:03
Nicole Dooling - 0:21:04
But like, I don't know, maybe and I look at it and you look at the back and like maybe you'll maybe you'll see where the fruit is from, but like if there's no vineyard name on there, you it could be from. Anyway.
Michael Frey - 0:21:16
Also, it's also how you grow a brand in in Napa, right? So you you don't have enough fruit in Napa, you know, so you can purchase from other AVA's and then produce a wine and you know it's your brand from Napa with fruit that has never seen the Napa for example, that lists, right? But that's.
Nicole Dooling - 0:21:38
It's a lot of things that are frustrating in the wine world, but it's also there's a lot of room to really find those little guys that are really doing it and and farming and they're putting their fruit and you know all their most of Mariah fruit goes into single vineyard designated wines because unique fruit, it's mountain fruit, people appreciate the quality of it and they don't want to blend it away into how many other millions of gallons of wine that they're making. So.
Michael Frey - 0:22:08
It is important for me. I I want that, that we don't sound frustrated. It's not a frustration. It's just how industry is, right. Yeah. And there's space for disruption and I think it's a disservice for consumers. So consumers should demand more. So they should ask more. They they ask, they ask a lot of questions when they buy. Vegetable or another brand in the store, but they don't have a lot of question when they pick a wine and they shoot.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:22:38
Yeah. And if we can't get people to buy regenerative wine, then I'm not super hopeful that we'll get them to buy regenerative other things because that should be the consumer that should really care, right. And so there's the individual like responsibility and education piece, but there's also like the calling out some of the. I don't want to call it greenwashing or just the marketing tactics, right. And what y'all were referring to in in some other CBG categories they call that mass balancing, right. So they get the majority of the ingredient that's fair trade and then they mix in some other non fair trade. But it's enough, it's fair trade enough to claim fair trade or or in this case it'd be from Sonoma or NAP or whatever, which I think is important. But let's let's go back to the story real quick just to get just to get everyone up to speed on.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:22:55
We have the deal with Brown Foreman that's going well. There's a change, right? So bring us from the change that happens there till now and then let's talk about kind of this Regen transition, why that happened.
Nicole Dooling - 0:23:31
So then he gets the the contract was up and he got the his brand back. He got his name back. It was. They gave it back to him, which was also lucky. Amazing. And then. They decided to start making some of their own Mariah wines under their they have a bonded winery at on site at Mariah's small but and then my they. My mom just used some consulting wine makers and learned to be a winemaker after like raising 4 kids. Out there.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:24:12
What does that mean when you have your own winery? Like I I imagine like the rooms like people stomping grapes with their feet. Like is that one piece of equipment? Is this 10 people like, what does that actually entail? Right, There's like.
Nicole Dooling - 0:24:22
So many different sizes of wineries and I mean there's big huge mass producing wineries. Yeah, there's a lot of in the, I mean we are going deep in the wine world, but like there's custom custom crushed facilities and where you can not have a vineyard. Not have a winery and be a winemaker or hire a winemaker. You can just be a normal person out there and decide I want to make my own. Wine costs you a lot of money because you got to buy fruit, you got to buy a customer, work in a custom crush, you got to find a winemaker, and then you got to do all the bottling and all that stuff. So there's these custom crush facilities all over the place and you can have your fruit from wherever you decide to buy it trucked in. Have a winemaker make it and it comes out the other end and you put your label on the bottom.
Michael Frey - 0:25:08
So you guys can produce your region brand? Yeah, you can.
Nicole Dooling - 0:25:11
You could bonded winery. The the bonded is like the legal winery is that custom crush facility and they hold like the legal. I don't know the details about that. We have a very small winery and we yes you can stomp on the grapes if you want. There is.
Michael Frey - 0:25:31
It's like it's like in in the beer industry, right? You you can brew at home in the bathtub and then you can produce millions of gallons. And it's exactly the same in the wine industry.
Nicole Dooling - 0:25:44
So we have, we do have a small we converted basically our seller into its wine. It is it was built into the house to be it's our bonded. It is the winery and we have we have a distem or we have a press the concepts but we didn't do one and we have but we can you can press the that other wine you know you can there's ways that you can work with better equipment but it's a small winery because we are primarily. Viticulturists and growers, you know, so only a couple of tons a year go into our brands.
Michael Frey - 0:26:21
But that's why we produce our wines not at Mariah. We produce our, our, our wines that you can buy on our website on in a big in the in the big professional winery, yeah, with with the professional winemaker and stuff that we have consistency. And can provide high quality so but but, but but the Mariah brand was was mostly is mostly exists mostly because it's really easy to start a conversation around regenerative agriculture when you pop a bottle and it's really difficult when otherwise start to do that. But I'm shifting away.
Nicole Dooling - 0:27:04
So my mom started making wine and she made the wine in the winery using help from consultants and has learned basically she's made so many belong. So many belong Chardonnay and Prima TiVo, which is Zinfandel, and she's made Pinot, but she doesn't like making Pino. Pino is a really hard great, just so, and she was doing that for a long time and kind of. Her things that matter to her were shifting a little bit and they were basically doing everything. And they don't have a marketing person. They don't have a distributor. It's very small. You know, we don't have a fancy tasting room with chandeliers and all this, You know, it's not, it's not like it's, I mean it's just them doing everything. And before I before I went, before I ended up getting, going into nursing.
Michael Frey - 0:27:52
Nicole Dooling - 0:27:53
Yeah, and before when it's interesting. I helped, I helped try to get their wine out a little bit, but I mean that's a different we only make a little bit. So shift now to, I don't know, 2018, 1718 and well, I met this guy in Peru.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:28:13
Crazy Swiss guy shows up and just goes around and everything, huh?
Michael Frey - 0:28:16
Rescue. I'm a rescue.
Nicole Dooling - 0:28:20
So. Yeah, I was, I was traveling in in Peru with my mom actually and this was on a around the world trip and I was taking a trip before I was deciding to shift gears in nursing and then met him and then he came, he came to California and you know he hearing about where I grew up in the Vineyard, he was like where is this like Podun play, you know, what are we?
Anthony Corsaro - 0:28:47
Nicole Dooling - 0:28:48
Yeah, he goes up there and he's like. God, this is me. You know, like.
Michael Frey - 0:28:52
It's a diamond. It's it's yeah, just Mariah Vineyard is full.
Nicole Dooling - 0:28:57
So kind of Fast forward. He was hanging here in the States for a little while but couldn't work immigration stuff and he helped just help my dad and really kind of fell in love a little bit of farming and and and. And my dad fell in love with him. My dad is like, if you don't marry this guy, going to like he looked and and and so then. And he's like the one person that my dad will let, like run equipment in his vineyard, which is, yeah, there's nobody that gets to.
Michael Frey - 0:29:34
But but then but then we we got inspired. We got inspired by farming. It's farming is just cool. It is just. To to farm a property is is extremely fulfilling to.
Nicole Dooling - 0:29:48
See how he looks at how like when he came to the vineyard, you know, and looked around it kind of. I mean, I had gone away to college and then, like been working as a nurse, you know, I went home and it's home to me. But to see how he looked at this place, I had like, this completely new perspective on. My parents did a lot like, I can't even. You know what they built up there and how how truly unique it is. And then even the other day I had a conversation with my dad, I was like, nobody farms their own land anymore. Nobody little and make their own fruit and farm their own land. And so I realized, you know, how unique what they're doing up there, it really is. And his how he looked at the place really shifted my perspective.
Michael Frey - 0:30:35
And then we had that so, so, so it was both so, so it was. It was this fulfilling, fulfilling experience to farm and to be in pain and hurt and in the sun, just off and to break down and to just awesome. And then we had a launch that with Paul Dolan that actually changed our life. Paul Dole and was president of Fetzer for a long time, was sitting there, the president of the matter and stuff and is a pioneer in the regenerative agriculture and he brought the word regenerative agriculture up the first time during this launch. And for us it was like.
Nicole Dooling - 0:31:19
He was also Paul was very integral and organic viticulture years ago and he was very, very closely also with Alan York, which if you watch the via's little farm, you know who that guy is, He's yeah. Mastermind behind it, behind the farming, and yeah.
Michael Frey - 0:31:35
No, I didn't.
Nicole Dooling - 0:31:36
Know Paul sitting is sitting on the board of Roc, so he is say that.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:31:40
Michael Frey - 0:31:41
And for for us it was an epiphany. It's probably like like for you guys, why is not everybody farming in in this way, you know, so.
Nicole Dooling - 0:31:52
Paul told us, just back up. Paul told us he was like, you guys got to go to this summit. There's this Regenerative Earth Summit in Boulder. This is like 2000 and he was like you gotta go and we were like what's regenerative like what is this And we look it up we're like this looks kind of cool and so we just we're like let's just go And so we go and that was literally like the beginning our of our like regenerative rabbit whole I guess I should say. But it was really what sparked us and inspired us. So that was.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:32:25
22 comments and one question. First comment, I feel like we give a lot of love to direct to consumer like ranchers or market gardeners and we're like all these people are like working so hard to feed us. And like when you think of wine, you're like oh, these people must be like super rich, they're rolling in the dough and it's like, Nah, like it's the same thing in these other commodities too. Like you guys are working your asses off. So just observation there and just like something that my like frame of mind has changed there. Secondly, shout out Celine and Regenerative Rising for putting on the Regenerative Earth Summit. They're coming back this year. We'll link that into the show notes. Question is you know what like what kind of regenerative practices are like? Where was your dad at at this time when he was getting exposed to these ideas? Was he like hyper conventional? Was he region curious? Was he already doing some of the practices, Like what was the stage at that time?
Nicole Dooling - 0:33:14
So he was dry farming and permanent cover and then? Michael and I fall of 2019 go to Boulder and you know we were halfway, you know, kind of like we.
Michael Frey - 0:33:28
Have to speak more about Boulder because we we slept in the same hotel like Will Harris so we we had the possibility to catch I it was just my well this you guys that was just it was just.
Nicole Dooling - 0:33:40
So, so yeah, so.
Michael Frey - 0:33:42
Nicole Dooling - 0:33:43
Thing it No.
Michael Frey - 0:33:43
No, I but and.
Nicole Dooling - 0:33:45
And then we, you know, we're kind of like, wow, we found our people and we didn't even know about. You know, and also like, why isn't everybody farming like this? And the cool thing about that summit was that there was like a doctor there. There was people talking. I mean, they had, it was such a diverse group of people. It wasn't farmers. But yeah, Paris was there and we ended up hanging out with Will and.
Nicole Dooling - 0:33:50
You know, drinking wine with him late at night and like our hotel lobby and he's just a unique guy. And he was, he was telling us, I mean he's a farmer. I the beginning of the summit, we had to like do this little exercise where you had to kind of break the ice kind of thing. You had to sit up from your table and move somewhere else and like you had to stare at somebody for.
Michael Frey - 0:34:35
For one minute it was It was too experienced like that. You're uncomfortable.
Nicole Dooling - 0:34:41
Michael Frey - 0:34:42
Just, you know, to to breakthrough this ball that, yeah, everybody feels uncomfortable. Just go out and speak with somebody and Nicole choose Will.
Nicole Dooling - 0:34:50
So I stand, I look around the room and the only for I mean there's you know there's definitely a couple of farmers in the room. But and then I I see Will Harris, I mean dressed to the nines of his like nice like nice leather home hand handmade vest. You know, just. Cowboy hat, like whole thing just but dress really nice. And my dad does that. He goes out and he doesn't wear his Ben Davis in his Carhartt. You know he dresses up. I was like, yeah.
Nicole Dooling - 0:35:06
This guy's a farmer and I looked at his hands and I was like, he's absolutely a farmer. And so I feel on it for this. I don't know who he was. You know, I was like not. And so then I had to go stare at Will Harris for like 3 minutes awkwardly since then. And then the whole time we said you gotta talk with these savory folks like they're in Northern California. So it kind of instigated this. We met, you know, Phil from Madag. We met all these awesome folks.
Nicole Dooling - 0:35:17
And would you're so energized so we come back to California and you know immediately we like go to the vineyard and we're like we're just we got we got to do this we got to do this and I was like yeah I've been saying this for years like you know she's all she's got her fingers on the pulse of that property she's the the like. She farms like, barefoot, usually because it's so it was so dusty a long time ago, and my dad was kind of like, what do I, what do I have to do differently? Like, tell me what I do? And so we started a conversation with the Northern California Savory Hub, it was called. In Center for Holistic Management at the time, it's a different name.
Michael Frey - 0:36:27
We have no.
Nicole Dooling - 0:36:28
But it's basically the only California if. I'm not going to go into the details of how the Savory Network works, but it's the Savory Institute and the name these outsourced hubs around the world and. And so our local hub. So we started conversations with the Land To Market and the Savory Institute and our hub. And we ended when I drove down and like met, they were at a summit together and we went and met with all of them. We met Alan Savory and we just, you know, we were like why isn't listing in in cropping systems like why is it only on rangeland or for animals or there's so much cropping systems that can farm generatively and they just hadn't really like. Kicked like kicked into that super well. And so Long story short we we became the pilot to for at least for vineyards which is a you know perennial cropping system is very different than like open grassland. But at the end of the day it kind of just is open grassland underneath your vines. So we started that conversation and did our baseline then COVID hit and we did our baseline like.
Nicole Dooling - 0:37:08
Early summer of 2020 and then so our EOB baseline, ecological outcome verification baseline and then one year later and then every year you do these assessments we.
Michael Frey - 0:37:45
Were we were really, we were really intrigued. I come back to your question about the farming practices, but really we were really intrigued by the outcome base of it. You know not that it's not tracking offices like all the other certifications and you have to do that and that because I believe that I farm completely different. Our vineyard with 100 inches of rain and then another vineyard. That is down in Paso Robles, so. So it's really hard to to say that's the practice that you have to use, right?
Nicole Dooling - 0:38:19
Contextual. It's all contextual.
Michael Frey - 0:38:21
So, so we were really intrigued with that also to prove that you actually regenerate because everybody is claiming the regeneration now, but somehow you have to bring some meat on the bone, you know to make a difference. The vineyard, the vineyard was was farmed in a in a really good way we were cultivating underneath the wine row before we started.
Nicole Dooling - 0:38:42
So he had bought an undercutter.
Michael Frey - 0:38:44
We, uh we uh, just for.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:38:46
Just for people, I don't know what that means. And I want to understand I'm that means you're growing things that aren't the grapes on the floor of the vineyard, right?
Nicole Dooling - 0:38:54
So yeah vineyards have cut what we everybody calls it usually cover crop right. So and you guys probably know that from other systems my and then what's called permanent cover is where you don't disk in your cover crop so some vineyards do alternating it rose every. Disk one, every other row, right? And then next year they disk every other row. My dad did that for a while and then he went to, he told me he was like, I was out there with the disk and I get out of the tractor and he's like, there's just worms. They're just everywhere, you know, like, why am I disking this up? You know, they should be underground. He went to permanent cover where he didn't disk anymore.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:39:32
So no Till basically no.
Michael Frey - 0:39:36
Right. But there's a there's a displayation. There's a, there's.
Nicole Dooling - 0:39:40
Michael Frey - 0:39:41
There's a, There's a.
Nicole Dooling - 0:39:42
Michael Frey - 0:39:43
There's a distinction because you have, you have the wines and you and you cultivate underneath to get rid of weeds. That's whatever what every vineyard is doing. Some do it mechanically, some spray chemicals on it to kill it. That depends. That depends how you believe how to farm so. Most 99 or more vineyards are cultivating have bare ground underneath the wine row and then between the wines they have cover.
Nicole Dooling - 0:40:14
Yeah. And sometimes it's anytime you see bare soil, it's bad, you know that from regeneration or it's not good, right. So when as consumer if you go to a vineyard and you see if you see bare soil anywhere, you should ask why is that there First off And secondly, how is it there, like are they? King which we all know the good and bad of discing. Or are they sitting on a four Wheeler and spraying out glyphosate?
Michael Frey - 0:40:42
It's extremely common to spray Roundup and glyphosate in venues.
Nicole Dooling - 0:40:47
So the so those are so the vine row management is a big, big deal in viculture and it still is. So, but he basically was permanent cover but he was keeping his vine row. Um cultivated. But he had bought this thing called an undercutter which basically cuts under way. Yeah we did that on the way and it could basically cuts the roots, but it lays it over as a mulch so it covers the soil and then after that during our our biggest thing was. Stopping cultivating the vine row. Doing so.
Michael Frey - 0:41:21
I can, so I can tell you what what we did so, so we we we stopped cultivating underneath the wine row. So we have 100% cover now, right. That's absolutely that's.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:41:32
Michael, explain what cultivating means. Because I'm lost, right? So I'm thinking of a vineyard. You have rows of the plants. And then like, there's usually something that they grow up on, like wood, right? Or like?
Michael Frey - 0:41:43
Anthony Corsaro - 0:41:43
Cultivating just means the wine is growing on that plant.
Michael Frey - 0:41:46
You have a garden and you plant carrots or whatever you plant and then have a surrounding soil around the stuff that you want to that you want to grow, right. And you have to go in there and you have to cultivate it and and take the that that is that that it's not a competition, that it's not a competition for what you want to grow. But we are speaking about 40 year old wines, dry farmed. Where the roots probably go down to, I don't know where. So. So just think just that the little wheat is competition for this wine. No, that's because they're.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:42:26
Perennials. They're perennials, right? You plan them and then they stay there.
Nicole Dooling - 0:42:30
I will say that that was one of our so my dad was, I mean dry farming permanent cover. I mean he, I mean solar like.
Michael Frey - 0:42:39
We were. We were.
Nicole Dooling - 0:42:39
Yeah, he's got diesel tractors because you got a post up. Electric tractors don't have a you know, they don't have the power or the battery issues right. Oh, there's a lot inside them. But but the point is is that he our biggest conversation that we had and we've had, we have a lot of the generational shifts are.
Michael Frey - 0:42:59
Nicole Dooling - 0:43:01
Big but biggest thing, the biggest discussion and our biggest change was integrating animals into our vineyard system and our vine row management. Our vine Moat real management went from doing an undercutter which was like our like easing into this or because my dad has an old school way of thinking and what he was taught and and. And I kind of used it against him at the end of the day because he, he was telling me that he doesn't want the, you know, the grass cover competing with moisture in the soil for his dry farmed vines. And I said, Dad, do you think that this much, you know, the 1st 6 inches of the topsoil is really, you know, you told me your vine roots are like on their way to China. They're so deep, you know, like the weird different sections here. And and so he eventually kind of like is now he's. He talks all about that school of thought. Keeping your ground covered is holding more water in your soil rather than letting it go. It keeps your soil cooler, all these things.
Nicole Dooling - 0:43:49
So we ended up going down this route with he sold the undercutter and then ended up getting under vine mower which is we have this Clemens that basically goes down and it mows the grass and kicks around the each vine and so it allows us to keep the grass low because you want to keep it low for frost issues as well as any like migration of insects into your canopy once your your canopy is big. So you do need to have some level of management under your vine route. And we don't want to cultivate and we obviously don't want to spray chemicals. So the best way to do it is that. And you can't have sheep in your vineyard too late into the season because then they'll eat your crop. So your best way to do it is at this time that mowing is our best way. That was our biggest transition, which was a, you know, a $34,000 implement. You know, it's really, but it's the longterm respect.
Michael Frey - 0:44:55
Mower but but we did. But but we did. We did the things that, you know, it's all about diversity, right? I'm a strong believer that everything is about biodiversity first. So we we increase biodiversity in.
Nicole Dooling - 0:45:10
Michael Frey - 0:45:10
Yeah, in our cover crops, in the vineyard, in pollinator habitat and then stuff, so, so just. What you do when you regenerate land, we pretty much did, yeah.
Nicole Dooling - 0:45:22
But the great thing is, is that we went from him cultivating it to us just mowing. I mean that was really, really huge. That's you add up all those vine roads together, that's a lot of service area.
Michael Frey - 0:45:35
I think the biggest, I bet, I think the biggest change is there's a picture in in in a farmer's mind how his property has to look. Yeah, right. So it has to be maintained, it has to be clean, it has to be good, right. And now about nature, positive systems and make positive for nature doesn't look like a golf course. So you have this my vineyard has to look like that and on the other side you have, but nature doesn't look exactly like that, so, so how do we find the middle run?
Kyle Krull - 0:46:10
So when you're talking about the like mowing between the rows and my my city brain thinks about like my parents lawn growing up and I'm assuming that's not with this. So what, what is it that you're growing in in this cover crop mix. So when do the sheep grades? When you need to start mowing? You know what you mentioned biodiversity like, is it multigrass species together? Like what does all that look like?
Michael Frey - 0:46:34
You plant, you plant different legumes to fix nitrogen.
Nicole Dooling - 0:46:41
We've got Clover.
Michael Frey - 0:46:42
We have several species of Clover, Crimson Clover, rose Clover, and stuff they have mixed.
Kyle Krull - 0:46:48
Together, like growing side by side? Or is it like legumes in one row, the next row is Clover?
Michael Frey - 0:46:54
No, no, it's. It's beautiful. It's, it's.
Nicole Dooling - 0:46:57
Michael Frey - 0:46:58
We have radish in there, we have, we have perennials in there. We have orchid grass that is popping up all over the place this year somehow. So so it's the more diverse the bath ground, the more diverse below ground we believe. So the more species that we have in there the better I think.
Nicole Dooling - 0:47:19
Yeah, and each cover crop species or different. Hut does different things for the soil and ultimately for the plant. So this year we're actually doing some pretty cool stuff. We're going to work with AEA advancing eco Ag. Yeah to yeah John Kemp he's he's yeah super, super interesting guy. We are going to do some SAP analysis. So we've done, we've done soil testing.
Nicole Dooling - 0:47:24
And the great thing about the SAP analysis is it's kind of similar to a blood draw. You're looking at what is the plant using up taking and what's in your soil, what's available to it, how much life is in your soil, all these things. But like what is the plant is actually using, right. Interesting, you can kind of help help the plant better get calcium or mainly whatever it needs and you can size. And photosynthesize to its maximum potential, which then allows you know, it's kind of the same idea. You guys appreciate health and you and everything. And you know your body functions at an optimal level when you when you can optimize things and you feed yourself well and when you're balanced and you're healthy. And then once you feel good because of all those things, then maybe you think about running a marathon or whatever it want to do, right? So the the whole idea.
Nicole Dooling - 0:48:16
About allowing your plants to be as healthy as they can be, they actually, then they've got immunity to a lot of things if you can allow them to be healthy. And then once they're immune to things in their own way, they've got major resilience factors that we probably don't even understand all of. And then then then they can express themselves fully and feel great intensity. And then they can like put out all these amazing things that we as humans look for in plants. To help our own health, right. So then they can start making all these other compounds like resveratrol and like you know phenolics and all this stuff that we're looking for in in the actual product. So when you can optimize the the functioning of your of your plants in your soil, then you can really help uplift. And I mean eventually if you're healthy enough, you don't have to you know spray out anything to kill something because the plant can handle it.
Nicole Dooling - 0:49:16
And by is obviously resilience in many ways, right. So that's kind of our focus is more of like looking at it as more of like a whole ecosystem.
Michael Frey - 0:49:54
There were there. There were two things that that I really liked in the last three months. We were at the class with Nicole Masters. What what really stuck in my brain is you. You are what you absorb. You're not. You eat. You are absorb. And I think. That there's a pretty big distinction between that. That's why SAP analysis will show us what is and actually absorbing, right. And then the second thing that I thought is interesting, we were at the speech of John Kempf in Napa and he mentioned that. Healthy plants build healthy soil, not health soil build healthy plants totally. And I thought that's really interesting because if a plant is photosynthesizing on a really high level, it feeds the microbes and and and all the stuff and that builds, builds healthy soil. So yeah, the.
Kyle Krull - 0:50:55
Inverse. I I, I want to share something I just learned recently. I just finished this book called the Dorito Effect, which is absolutely phenomenal, highly recommended, talks about the development of plants and nutrient density and all these different things. But in this they provide this one example and this kind of sends back to what you mentioned about healthy plants have their own defense mechanisms that we may or may not understand and have these secondary compounds and there is these caterpillars that would decimate these cotton fields. And there's one specific type of wasp that goes out and kills these caterpillars. And they're trying to figure out how the wasp flying over a field of cotton can find the caterpillars. So they do all these experiments, put a Caterpillar and the wasp together to see what's attracting them. The wasp doesn't care about the Caterpillar at all. What's happening is when the Caterpillar bites a healthy plant, it releases a secondary compound, some sort of an odor that the wasp can pick up on that attracts the moth or sorry, the wasp to the area to then kill the Caterpillar and.
Kyle Krull - 0:51:23
What they realized was when the plants weren't healthy, they weren't emitting enough of that pheromone to attract the predator insects to come kill the the bad pest, right. So to your point, like, these plants have these incredible defense mechanisms built into their DNA that they can utilize if they're in the right environment, which is really, really incredible. Part 2 that leads me to a question. This book also talks a lot about how the healthiest plants have the best flavor. And I'm wondering, from your perspectives, have you noticed a difference in the quality of your grapes, your wine, since you've started to implement some of these new principles and practices?
Michael Frey - 0:52:32
Yes, I think. I think the biggest for me personally is. Terroir in in the wine industry, we speak a lot of terroir, right? I think the biggest impact of that or a big impact that you can achieve is if you don't irrigate your fruit, right. So we visited, we visited Tapas Creek for example, once they had about two wines, one was irrigated, one was on the drip and and it was really visible, you know the drip went down and that the route went down and then along the drip and it was really shallow. In right and right, farmed wine went just six feet down. So if you want to express your place, I think dry farm is the way to go.
Kyle Krull - 0:53:21
Just and listeners who don't aren't familiar with the term, dry farming is no added irrigation. You're simply relying on the moisture that comes out of the sky, essentially the natural precipitation in the area.
Nicole Dooling - 0:53:32
Yes, yes. And the great thing about where we are also. Or I could, I guess I should say more like isolated places of farming is that, you know, our water comes straight from the sky, it falls on our mountaintop through the soil and then it goes down, right. So we have, I feel a responsibility to our, you know, downs, you know, down the mountain members to not put on our, on our ground to let it go into our river system, watersheds as a not top vineyard. And.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:54:07
Until from an erosion perspective.
Nicole Dooling - 0:54:09
Right, erosion perspective. So that's huge. I mean, this year we got like hammered with so much, so much rain up there. It was a crazy year. Nothing.
Michael Frey - 0:54:20
Nothing to complain. Absolutely awesome.
Nicole Dooling - 0:54:23
Soaked in beautifully.
Michael Frey - 0:54:25
No, no, The vineyard took it beautifully. Every was. We had good infiltration. It was we we actually filled the pond.
Nicole Dooling - 0:54:34
And once the water.
Michael Frey - 0:54:35
For years, so you know.
Nicole Dooling - 0:54:36
Once the water did run off, it means crystal clear. There was number dirt in it. It was beautiful. So as a. That is rain. I mean, we're irrigating with rainwater and and and or not irrigating, but we are our groundwater is being filled with with rainwater, right. So we don't have any other farming system around us. We aren't pulling from an aquifer that who knows what is in there because we're come from and putting toxic water on our on our ground, the rain. Is.
Michael Frey - 0:55:07
No, we did, we did, we did a chemical test of our water actually because we were really interested, you know, so in in viticulture you have to spray, right. You do foliar application where you put, where you put, where you put the good stuff on the wine, on the leaves you like. Like you take supplements and and you also spray sulfur mildew is a is a big is a big problem in video culture. So I'm really we we really wanted to know what do we spray on our wine so we did that analysis and it was pristine so.
Nicole Dooling - 0:55:42
But you know when you're irritating in a sorry?
Kyle Krull - 0:55:45
What do you think about?
Nicole Dooling - 0:55:46
You don't know where the water is.
Kyle Krull - 0:55:47
Coming of what you're doing Dave, is delay. When you talked about not telling before the soil erosion that Anthony mentioned, but not spraying like if all those things were happening, which sounds like it's common practice in the wine industry. You also mentioned 3 to 4 miles from the ocean, right? All of that phosphorus, nitrogen, synthetic everything, glyphosate ends up in the ocean creating carbon dead zones. Like the the positive domino effect of what you're doing is just so impactful and it's so great that there are people like you leading the way in this industry and we can share that story. It's just really powerful.
Nicole Dooling - 0:56:19
It's good because we don't have, we don't have any chemical drift, right. So we don't farming organically, uncertain, certified, uncertified at this time but we don't have there's nobody next door to us. It's not a neighborhood of farms you know nobody, nobody's nothing is drifting no, no fungicide drift towards us like so we are kind of a little mountain Oasis. We're actually working with the. A local girl to do treatment free beekeeping up on our on our property. So yeah there's other ways we can we can expand beyond just.
Michael Frey - 0:56:57
Nicole Nicole is is really pushing innovation. She has a care and soft lot up there too. Treatment, free bee keeping, some low growing bee flowers, insectory stuff. So yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:57:13
So. Let let me let me do what I often have to do on this podcast, which is take us from agronomy back to commercialization because we could talk about the agronomy forever, right. But let's let's go back to Mariah Vineyard as a brand, dirt wine as a developing brand, why they need to brand these products and tell this story that way. What that means, how you're going to do it? You know before we recorded, I want to give you all the opportunity to mention some of these additives that are a problem in the wine industry, some of these sustainable certifications, just some of this. Some of these issues that you're trying to bring to light on the commercial side from the agronomy, so let's do that translation for the audience real quick.
Michael Frey - 0:57:51
OK. So so we believe, we believe that that there has to be transparency out there if we want to change the the food system on the on the on the broad scale there has to be parency for the consumer that consumer can actually vote with their dollars in a way that they support. The ones that are doing good right that's that's as an intro for example in the wine industry a regenerative vidi culture or regenerative farming is a buzzword now it is still not defined what it actually means. So everybody can use it so, so how do you separate now the ones that are doing good and the ones that are just using it to market their the.
Nicole Dooling - 0:58:37
Same with natural wine. There's no definition natural.
Michael Frey - 0:58:41
Wine. So. So we're really. Believing in in that, we have to create this transparency. Why do we have to create this transparency? Wine industry can use over 70 additives in winemaking that goes from stuff like regular, like you put yeast is an additive, sulfur is an additive. You can sugar, sugar, you can acidify. Why?
Anthony Corsaro - 0:59:07
You don't have to tell the consumer on the bottle that you're doing this right. It can just.
Michael Frey - 0:59:11
No, exactly so. So there's still not an ingredient.
Nicole Dooling - 0:59:14
Yeah. Do you ever see wine with ingredients like?
Michael Frey - 0:59:17
Nicole Dooling - 0:59:17
The only thing that doesn't?
Michael Frey - 0:59:19
And and and I say that out of this 70, there's a lot of stuff that is just normal. And then there's other stuff that is egg white for example to to find wine, there's there's gelatine that that is derived from fish platters. And then it goes to the other side to to to a product it's called Velcrin. It's it's highly lethal in high doses that you that you can put in but it but it it transforms in the 1st 24 hours. And for me that's just, that's just the additive and the ingredient labeling cell humor should demand more we have to have some. Labeling and transparency out there that that you know what you drink, then you have sustainable labels that that still accept glyphosate spraying and then the use of chemicals then you have.
Nicole Dooling - 1:00:19
In the farming.
Michael Frey - 1:00:20
Then you have the the origin of the grapes you know. You buy. You buy your wine that you think is from this region, but the grapes are from the other side of you know, you don't know. So I think. I think if if our goal, and it is our goal to transform any culture or the food system, then transparency has to be a big part of that. Does that answer your question?
Anthony Corsaro - 1:00:47
Yeah, and how is dirt gonna take that further than maybe Barai Vineyard's has or can?
Nicole Dooling - 1:00:53
Dirt I do want to say is is rooted. I mean we believe in Mora avenues we believe in the farming up there. We are very I mean we are helping farm that vineyard. So we that is that we believe in the purity of that that place and the fruit quality that comes out of there. So dirt is is is but shooting out of that it's.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:01:15
An and not an or.
Nicole Dooling - 1:01:17
Michael Frey - 1:01:18
But but to create transparency. You have to disrupt a little bit too, right? And Mariah is my parents in law's brand and I don't wanna disturb some stuff onto their brand. So it's my face and it's my brand. So that's the goal.
Nicole Dooling - 1:01:42
Yeah, and we are. Yeah. I think that we are figuring out the best way in which we can move forward with dirt. So it's kind of a stay tuned.
Michael Frey - 1:01:56
We're growing the grapes currently we are growing the grapes currently because it's it has to be, it has to be a transparent, transparent wine from the soil to the glass. So we are currently growing process and next year in the wine process.
Kyle Krull - 1:02:17
Super cool. I'm. I'm blown away by the the list of additives that you just mentioned again. Like yeah, and I love the loi thing. Like obviously, I mean again I've never purchased a bottle of wine. Actually, I probably have for cooking, but I never drink one. But everything I buy at the store, I look at the loi. You know you look at the list of ingredients. But it's blowing my mind. I think that wine consumers who pay these hundreds of dollars to drink, you know 4 glasses of this thing, they don't even know what's in it. And that is absolutely blowing my mind. And especially like for the vegan community, there could be gelatin from fish or eggs in wine, which is, I'm still like, I'm recovering from having just learned that.
Nicole Dooling - 1:02:58
So it's not even, I mean that's with all, you know, so many different food products, you know that there's the farming side of that obviously have things cleanly farmed and not with, you know, toxic. Biocides and or toxic water for that matter and then like because that's another whole can of worms of like OK you can.
Michael Frey - 1:03:22
Yeah, don't go.
Nicole Dooling - 1:03:23
Anyway, sorry, that's don't go anyway.
Michael Frey - 1:03:26
But like, no we're we're extremely then really deep in that.
Nicole Dooling - 1:03:29
Stuff. I'm sorry. I love it like you're from. The same reason he blew my mind talking about that we were anyway. We had this whole conversation about cancer and interesting things. And then. He like opened my eyes to the fact that, you know, irrigation, irrigation, water matters, right? And we nobody thinks about that And organic farming, nothing considers where the water is coming from or what when it is being irrigated on your land. And I just want to say that and leave you everybody for their own.
Michael Frey - 1:03:59
But that's that's Kyle, you mentioned, you mentioned the additives that's that's one part, right? So, so the other part that I mentioned is the glyphosate use with with still to be able to be sustainable certified. There was a study, there was a study that that tested wines and beers for glyphosate and you would be really surprised what's in wine. From the from the glyphosate site as as well, so can you. There has to be a.
Kyle Krull - 1:04:32
Give us a little bit more information about that, like is it 95% of wine 70?
Michael Frey - 1:04:36
Percent of wines are no you you you can't you you. You can't say that in in percentage. You would have to buy wines out of a shelf and you would have to test them for glyphosate. That would be an extremely interesting project actually. That would throw up a lot of things. You can you can Google glyphosate in wine study. It's a US perk and did one where they bought out beers and wines and conventional and organic wines had actually glyphosate in it. Low levels still, so.
Nicole Dooling - 1:05:12
Yeah. There's a lot of chemical use in systems, especially because in vineyards you're constantly fighting against or trying to prevent mildew outbreaks. Yeah, as well as there's all sorts of other issues that can happen in vineyards. And so yeah, it's a heavily. Chemical ridden industry on the farming side and then obviously because you don't have to label ingredients, you know on the making side, you can put a lot of stuff in there and fix your wine or make it do different things.
Michael Frey - 1:05:45
But that brings me back know your farmer. Yeah. So in on the wine side definitely two and demand more I really ask questions, yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:05:57
Yeah. And it sounds like we need some government intervention from the FDA and some others to actually get some legislation to protect people because we, I don't know if we're going to get all the way there from just consumer demand. I think that can play a role, right. But some of this stuff is this big, big, big moving stuff.
Kyle Krull - 1:06:12
So the the level of transparency can start with the brand. And that's what's so cool about what you're doing with Dirt is you're acknowledging the gap in information for consumers right now, not necessarily by calling out everybody else, but by taking the the level of education a step further, right, to acknowledge like this is what we are doing and what we're not doing. And then as a consumer once you realize like Dirt is doing this, why isn't everybody else what? What is it that they're not acknowledging within within their practices. So I think you know A/C you're you're spot on that. We will need to have legislation to get involved in to some degree, but we can start that movement with a brand trying to do the right thing, which is really cool and really powerful.
Nicole Dooling - 1:06:53
It's kind of a proof of concept. It can be done and it's, you know.
Michael Frey - 1:06:58
Kyle Krull - 1:07:01
Yeah. Well, yeah. So, so the future we mentioned, you know why is doing what Mariah is doing dirt is sounds like we're in growing season right now. There could be you know one next year. Walk us through what the future could look like, you know, and it, it sounded to me like there could be out there for dirt to be something that isn't necessarily like wine in a bottle. So just walk us through what that vision looks like. And if it is one in the bottle, are there certain varieties that you're hoping to focus on? And are there certain channels where people could potentially find you? Could they find you online? Like, walk us through the whole process?
Michael Frey - 1:07:33
Oh, that's a loaded question.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:07:36
The high level mind.
Michael Frey - 1:07:40
We are passionate about the regenerated Viti culture tremendously. So with Mariah, we transformed Mariah to be the first Land To Market verified vineyard out there. These are 90 acres, but 90 acres are not enough, right. So, so I think with with Mariah, we will continue on this path. It's our goal to be a hotspot for innovation. So if if guys have technology or new seats or you name it, reach out to us and we are happy to to test it up.
Nicole Dooling - 1:08:15
On the venue, on the side now, I'm super intrigued with like perennial grains, so that's. Conversation. But that's why I have this Kerns. A test spot anyway, so I know.
Michael Frey - 1:08:30
Then that that's Mariah and and we're also working with Mariah, I think a powerful path forward. This is nutrient density study. So we're working. Working there too, we started with Kelly Mulville from Pisces Range some conversations and are looking how can we move forward with that with dirt.
Nicole Dooling - 1:08:54
We're also working.
Michael Frey - 1:08:55
With dirt, the vision is to set an anti dot, an anti dot into the wine industry that it's possible. How? Does that look like, I don't want to speak too much about that so far, but it's always it's a learning out of of our last years. It's always if you can trigger the senses and if you can pop a bottle you have completely different different communications especially with the product like wine that is so emotional and and is you know. You use wine at that at weddings and then that social, social gathering stuff, it's the perfect product to.
Nicole Dooling - 1:09:44
It brings people together and it starts the.
Michael Frey - 1:09:46
Conversation. Really. Kick a conversation off.
Nicole Dooling - 1:09:48
Where you can talk about the wine and the terroir, and then you can flip to, oh, what about the rest of the food on the table? You know, really like opens. Yeah, you know. And the idea that dirt is, you know, in an industry that speaks so highly about terroir but somehow has. Isn't really focused on it is is exactly where things are grown or the transparency of that. You know calling it, calling it dirt is kind of this kind of edgy way to to speak about terroir. And then also in regenerative agriculture nobody says dirt. It's always so you know this idea to kind of just. Kind of flipping on its edge and and just say it's dirt and everybody knows what dirt is. People, I mean kids know what dirt is, you know, and they're too.
Michael Frey - 1:10:40
Yeah, it's a bit disruption is good for an industry, so.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:10:44
Yeah. Well, everyone, keep your eyes in the ears field because it sounds like more is coming. And I think part of your answer to this next question is going to be about bringing people together, sparking conversations and being edgy. That would certainly be part of my answer to this question. But I'm going to wrap us with the question that we asked everybody, which is. How do we get Regen brands that 50% market share by 2050?
Michael Frey - 1:11:10
There's 22 paths in in, in my opinion for me, radical transparency, you know, you know, so even if you pay a premium for farmers, even if you. Do all that stuff. You know. In the end consumption drives the market, so you have create radical transparency that you can vote and align as a consumer with the brands that are doing good.
Nicole Dooling - 1:11:39
And Health think is the other one.
Michael Frey - 1:11:41
And health is because.
Nicole Dooling - 1:11:43
You know now those experiments of me, I mean human and we're selfish and. Care about our health before we care about the health of the planet. Really. I mean one.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:11:53
Nicole Dooling - 1:11:54
And if you can trigger health in people and people understanding that the farming and the processing or the making of of food is health, I mean food is medicine. You know, I, I, I'm an ER nurse and let me tell you, you know, there's a lot of stuff that walks through those doors that does not need to be an emergency. You know, and food can food as medicine can be a really a really big driver in this way. And I 100% believe in that And and I think that triggering that and people is, is, I mean it's innate in all of us, you know. So we just have to find the right way to like get to it you know and and yeah.
Kyle Krull - 1:12:44
I think you're spot on. I I keep shouting out the Dorito Effect, this book, But what's so cool about the Dorito Effect is like it talks about food is medicine, and also that healthy plants, animals taste better and are better for you. So you get that Not only is it, you know, radical transparency, not only is it, you know, food is medicine and health, but it's also that you're not you're not sacrificing the enjoyment of a bottle of wine. Or the food or the chicken or the tomato or whatever. You're actually improving the quality of what you're consuming from a taste perspective while at the same time doing right for your body and for the planet. And to me, like that's the trifecta. If we can get people to understand those three things, I think that this movement has no ceiling, which is will, will help us get to that, you know, 50% market share by 2050.
Nicole Dooling - 1:13:34
And that's what's great that there's so many people working in so many different areas and spaces from farming to brands to you know helping farmers get funding for these kind of transitions. And I think that's this is a team effort on everybody's on everybody needs to jump in and and work in this direction. And I think you guys are a hub that like allows for more communication around the folks that are really working to do this, so. Keep it up.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:14:04
We keep it, yeah. Y'all are doing the harder work, so we do the easy.
Nicole Dooling - 1:14:09
Stuff I know of brands because I've listened to your podcast like I went up to Christy from Quinn Snacks and I was like Christy because I like, you know, I I I think it's really, really great. So like hear the stories behind these brands and the the passion behind the people that are fighting really hard. It's not easy. As a brand or a farmer, so.
Michael Frey - 1:14:32
Yeah, the struggles. Absolutely. Yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:14:36
But when we're open about them, when we get to share them together, it makes it a little easier and hopefully we can solve them together and that's what it's all about.
Michael Frey - 1:14:42
Nicole Dooling - 1:14:43
Anthony Corsaro - 1:14:44
This was awesome. Thanks for joining us. Y'all, really appreciate it.
Michael Frey - 1:14:48
Thank you for hearing us.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:14:52
For show notes, episode transcripts, and more information on our guests and what we discuss on the show. Check out our website regen-brands.com that is regen-brands.com. You can also find our Regen recaps on the website. Regen recaps take less than 5 minutes to read and cover all the key points of the full hour long conversations. You can check out our YouTube channel Regen Brands Podcast for all of our episodes with both video and audio. The best way to support our work is to give us a 5 star rating on your favorite podcast platform. Subscribe to future episodes and share the show with your friends. Thanks for tuning into The ReGen Brands Podcast, brought to you by the Regen Coalition and Outlaw Ventures. We hope you learned something new in this episode and it empowers you to use your voice, your time, and your dollars to help us build a better and more regenerative food system.
Michael Frey - 1:15:43
Love you guys.