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Regenerative Agriculture Podcast

Jul 13, 2018

Greg Pennyroyal is the Viticulture and Enology Coordinator at Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards in Temecula, California. He is also the Professor of Viticulture for Mt. San Jacinto Community College. Greg has worked in many industries including medicinal organic herb production, traditional eastern medicine, and botanical medicine research and development. Greg has been active in researching neurodegenerative diseases in conjunction with the University of California, Santa Barbara and has a breadth of knowledge about plant health that is a true delight.


In this episode, Greg and I discuss

  • How the microbiome determines ‘terroir’ and influences flavor and quality,
  • Using plant sap analysis, and how well it correlates with field observation
  • Can you produce fruit with more flavor and metabolites in a stressed environment, or in an optimal environment?
  • Plus many more highlights


Support For This Show

This episode is brought to you by AEA - Advancing Eco Agriculture - leading regenerative agriculture since 2006.

Visit today and learn how AEA can help you increase quality + yield.




Music Greg recommends:

Episode 16 - Greg Pennyroyal - Highlights


2:30 - Greg’s journey bringing him to where he is today

  • Greg started on a family farm, not having any experience or idea what he was doing
  • Greg’s advice on finding a mentor, and how a local dairy farmer became one of Greg’s first mentors
  • How Greg found his practical experience and down-home logic helped him when thinking critically about what he was taught in college
  • Why Greg moved on after a decade, and him ending up at Trout Lake Farm for the decade after


8:25 - Integrating business and agriculture

  • The importance of not being greedy when developing a solid place in the market


9:00 - Greg’s movement to Leiner Health Products and his increase in research possibilities

  • Why looking for alternatives to standard agriculture doesn’t mean we need to be looking for alternatives to science
  • Greg’s views on having a perspective of connecting the dots on a higher level than deep science


10:30 - Standardizing natural products like medicine

  • Greg’s breakthrough on finding plants growing in ecosystems closer to where the plant was native to, where biological principles were used, had much less variation from season to season and farm to farm
  • This was because plants that are built better and grown in a biological system tend to have more biochemical homeostasis


13:10 -  The connection between biological integrity and the human genome


13:30 - Greg’s homeopathic testing with interesting results


15:45 - Greg’s work on an MS medication from a rare Tibetan herb, and how it was similar to California white sage


17:20 - The importance of being aware of misinformation on both sides of unconventional and conventional agriculture


17:50 - Greg at Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards

  • Greg loves making wine!
  • Viticulture is one of the few agricultural crops that a paid for quality. Great grapes = higher wine prices.
  • x6 value of the commercial value of grapes
  • How different regions of growing contribute to the taste of wine - which is due to the microbiome of the area (microbial patterns)


23:05 - More info on plants being grown in their native environment grown using biological practices

  • Level 1 - plants struggling to survive
  • Level 2 - getting in balance
  • Level 3 - enhance production of what plant has difficulty producing when not balanced
  • Highest level -  Disease and insect resistance plant producing healthy offspring


26:10 - Bringing plants into balance

  • Both from a nutritional perspective and from a microbiome perspective
  • Getting plants onto a positive cycle and out of a negative cycle


29:10 - The amazing resiliency of plants

  • How quickly stressed trees can recover when given the proper opportunity


30:15 - Great results of plant sap analysis over petiole analysis


32:00 - Plants expressing different chemical profiles based on the nutritional and microbial environment

  • Everyone cares about flavor and aroma
  • Stressing a plant vs. producing in an optimal environment
  • The debate in the wine world on deficit irrigation
  • Greg doesn’t believe enough research has been done in this area, but Greg thinks for plants “stress is stress”, and that plants want to produce great output


37:40 - Reverse bell curve on plant water and nutrient deprivation

  • Needing to balance macronutrients and micronutrients


42:10 - What has been something that has really surprised Greg? 

  • How the land-grant university system has been co-opted by certain interests
  • The backlash on people speaking out against conventional agriculture practices
  • How Greg has seen misinformation reinforced from his time working in the pharmaceutical industry


44:35 - What does Greg believe to be true about modern agriculture that others do not?

  • The whole idea that we are stewards of the ecosystem isn’t true - we ARE the ecosystem, and the microbiome connects all of us
  • This makes the idea of spraying roundup on plants very questionable
  • How this relates to a decline in human health


48:15 - What is a resource Greg would recommend?

  • See the resources section (above). 


50:40 - What question does Greg wish he was asked?

  • Greg’s small growers' co-op
  • Greg’s work in teaching vineyard skills to kids on the autistic spectrum



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