a Documentary Project
Can Wine Save the Planet?
This is the story of an intricate web of ECO-minded Vintners and Farmers leading the path forward to Revitalize the Planet through Agriculture. Using Biodynamic and Regenerative Organic agriculture to revitalize their soils, to make better food and better wine. These leaders are restoring a living ecosystem that puts carbon back into the soil and reduces the effect of Climate Change. This is the story of our Survival.
is a fiscally sponsored project of the International
Documentary Association (IDA), 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization. Contributions in
support of Can Wine Save the Planet are payable to IDA and are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
Revitalize the Planet through Agriculture
We find ourselves drawn to biodynamic vineyards and wineries. The wines they produce are just a step ahead in taste and nuance, and we wanted to discover why. We started pursuing interviews with biodynamic wineries. Tablas Creek, Montinore Estate, Syncline, and Hedges Family Wine were all early on our list. We found ourselves drawn to their wine and how they farmed their grapes, the way they expressed themselves, the way they looked at not just their vineyards but the planet.
When we traveled to Australia with the Wine Media Conference, we visited Krinklewood and Lowe wines. Back in the United States, in the Applegate Valley, we discovered Troon and Cowhorn. In the Willamette Valley, we found Johan. On our trip to Italy last year with the Wine Media Conference we discovered, Marcel Zanolari, on a press trip this year, Cirelli and Emidio Pepe in Abruzzo.
Visiting these vineyards and tasting their wines only reinforced the belief that farming biodynamically and applying the extra effort to make the soil and ecosystem better were, in FACT, making these wines better.
Former Cowhorn Vineyard owner Bill Steele told us during an interview on Biodynamics, “in Biodynamics we found our people”. In a sense we also found our own people, and continue to find our own people through winemakers, writers, and advocates, all working separately towards the same goal. What is that goal? To have a purpose that is meaningful, providing better food, making a wine that you are proud to share with family and friends, leaving the farm and planet better than you found it.
Biodynamics & Regenerative Organic Farming
This project started to evolve and come into focus when Robin wrote an article for Jancis Robinson’s Wine Writing Competition on “Regeneration.” We met wineries like Youngberg Hill who are all in on no-till agriculture, and other wineries who, while they may not have the certifications, practice the same methods and are seeing and reaping the results.
All of this comes down to respect for the land. For centuries, small farms had immense biodiversity. There were native plants and animals, crops, livestock and of course the humans, all working together and sharing space. This kept balance on the land. When we started larger farms, the biodiversity was lost. Land became places for crops or livestock and the human connection with the land grew more distant.
Biodynamics, began as a way of closing this gap. Regenerative agriculture is the modern day answer to getting back to this biodiversity, and enriching our soils to create healthier foods and mitigate climate change.
After having a year off during the pandemic to research and explore, a path of our own appeared. We started to develop a clear vision of the approach we could take in helping to get these stories and the message about this type of agriculture out to people.
All this coalesced in Michael’s head forming an idea for a project with immense possibilities.
We have been in the entertainment world for over 30 years, and have been doing this wine adventure for over 15 years part time.
It’s time to add another chapter, or book in this sense, and start paying it forward by telling these stories and providing a path for the next generation to help provide a healing change, by developing their own Global Eco System.
We developed a website and concept a few years ago to share stories on a wide range of subjects. Life got busy and we shelved the concept about 3 years ago, to spend more time focused on Crushed Grape Chronicles.
The site was called Floatingboats.org. It was to be a launching point for new ideas.
We are relaunching Floatingboats.org. This will be the start of an adventure which helps build an ecosystem of like minded people, businesses, and solutions.
We have seen there is a growing movement and we want to help tell those stories.
So we have developed a grandiose plan to help to promote educate and implement this idea on a much larger scale.
This Documentary project is going to show the strands of an Ecosystem web, comprised of multiple players working in their small microcosms, working with nature to create a product they love and want to share with the world.
As we plan the grand scope of this project, there will be rabbit holes. This is the same story, just on different paths, creating this large ecosystem. We don’t have to suffer through extreme climate, we can tame the wild beast, it is a matter of working together.
The stories of each of these players is interlinked, even when they are miles or continents away,
Our Team is going to be broken down in a little unconventional way. When you think of a movie, you have the director, writer, and producer creating a story creating a script, usually with one theme. A cast that is hired. A movie is made, it is then shown on a screen, or TV. You move on.
We are assembling a team, a little different team. Our team includes a group of writers seeking out and telling the stories of trailblazers in this type of agriculture and viticulture from multiple groups and continents.
Our team includes Vintners who want to experiment, ask questions, evolve learn, grow share, make the world a better place, make a difference.
Our theme is massive, but to tell the story we need to show you all the threads in this woven tapestry of our ever-evolving ecosystem.
We have joined a community of writers who like us head toward biodynamic wines because of the energy of the people, the places and the wine.
Our Team Writers and Storytellers (adding more as we grow)
Jeff Burrows, WSET 4 with FoodWineClick
Lynn Gowdy, WSET 3 with Savor the Harvest
Martin Redmond, WSET2 (w/Distinction), & CSWS with Enofylz Wine Blog
Allison & Chris Wallace, WSET 2 & CWS with AdVINEtures
Andrea Lemieux, WSET2 & author of “The Essential Guide to Turkish Wine” with The Quirky Cork
Robin Renken, WSET 3 & CSW, with 42 Aspens Productions & Crushed Grape Chronicles
Our team of Winemaker Advocates
This is a team that includes people who want to experiment, ask questions, evolve learn, grow share, make the world a better place, make a difference.
Paso Robles California
This winery is a collaboration between the Haas Family of Vineyard Brands and the Perrin Family of Chateau du Beaucastel that began in 1987.
Together they searched for the appropriate place on the West Coast to plant a vineyard. They found this land in the western part of Paso Robles that had limestone soils and a climate similar to that of Chateauneuf du Pape in France’s Rhône Valley.
They gradually brought in cuttings from Beaucastel of all 7 of the varieties grown there were planted. Beyond that, they brought in another 7 varieties. With those additional grapes, they grow all the varieties approved in Chateauneuf du Pape.
They started the vineyard using organic principles and received their organic certification in 2003, then leaned into Biodynamic farming and received their Demeter Biodynamic Certification in 2017. In 2020 they became the first Regenerative Organic Certified vineyard in the world.
Their team includes a biodynamic director, a regenerative specialist, a viticulturist, and a shepherd, among others. Sheep graze in the vineyard when it is safe for the vines and range in other parts of this biodiverse property when it is not.
They are leading the industry, pushing the needle not just to make delicious wines (which they most definitely do) but also to take responsibility for the future of the planet.
Applegate Valley Oregon
Troon Vineyard has been in Oregon’s Applegate Valley since 1972, originally farmed conventionally, as was the norm at the time. When Dr. Bryan White and his wife Denise purchased the property in 2017, they began the conversion to biodynamic. Craig Camp, the General Manager, found and nurtured a team that now nurtures this property. Replanting about 10 acres each year due to red blotch, they are now not only Demeter Certified as Biodynamic, but they were the 2nd vineyard in the world to be Regenerative Organic Certified (just behind Tablas Creek).
Troon is smaller than Tablas, with a smaller team, and the two work together, exchanging ideas and working to make this kind of viticulture the norm.
At Troon, you can stroll the gardens where they grow the plants for their biodynamic preparations and have signs to explain the plants and preparations.
They are experimenting with the preparations, looking for natural items from the property to make biodynamic preparations from items right here on the property. Cultivating that closed system where the farm and vineyard can be as self-sufficient as possible.
Santa Barbara California
Steve Beckmen farms 2 family vineyards in Santa Barbara, the Thomas and Judith Beckmen Estate Vineyard in the Los Olivos District AVA and the Purisima Mountain Vineyard in the Ballard Canyon AVA. Purisima Mountain was the first Demeter Certified biodynamic vineyard in Santa Barbara County.
Inspired by a college friend who was using the principals in his garden and then by a meeting with Biodynamic consultant Philippe Armunier, they began small testing the method on just one block of Syrah in 2002 and expanded until now this method is used on all 40 acres of the Purisima Mountain Vineyard. They strive through this method of farming to be free of external inputs.
When they started, they immediately saw the results. Mind you, this is not a family that chases trends. They find what works and stick with it. Biodynamics worked for them, leading them to produce their delicious flagship Ballard Canyon Syrah from Purisimo Mountain Vineyard.
Willamette Valley Oregon
Montinore Estate was established in 1982 in the Tualatin Hills of the Northwestern Willamette Valley. Rudy Marchesi now presides over this 200-acre biodynamic vineyard.
This property had previously been a hazelnut farm and a cattle ranch, and in the 80s, when Mount St. Helens erupted, the lower fields that at the time were planted to vegetables were covered in ash. In 1982 the Grahams, who owned the property at the time, did a study and decided to plant vines.
Rudy had been working with the winery and encouraged them to move to biodynamics to combat phylloxera, which had been causing them to rip out vines. He started studying soil microbiology. He also realized that the wines that he liked the best were biodynamic.
He began using these practices in his own garden, and the results were undeniable.
Rudy has hosted Biodynamic educational events and was part of the International Biodynamic Viticulture Group. He is a mentor for biodynamic farmers and vintners in Oregon and beyond.
Beckham Estate Vineyard,
Willamette Valley Oregon
Andrew Beckham is a potter, a teacher, and a winemaker. He and his wife Annedria found this property in the Chehalem Mountains of Oregon’s Willamette Valley to build an art studio and home in 2004. Andrew was teaching art at nearby Beaverton High School, and they intended to have a studio for him to work in and a home to raise a family with a garden.
They quickly got to know neighbors who were growing grapes and fell in love with the idea of growing some themselves. That expanded into the now having ½ of their 34 acres planted to wine grapes. They farm organically. Their children and animals roam the property, and they want it to be safe. They have also included many biodynamic principles in their farming. The idea of animals grazing and the property becoming a holistic system, integrated and working together, is important to them. After 2012 they moved to no-till farming.
Annedria was leafing through a wine trade magazine during this journey and came across an article on Elizabetta Foradori. The article had a picture of the woman surrounded by these beautiful terra cotta vessels in her cellar. When she showed the article to Andrew, he said, “I can make those.” The rest, as they say, is history.
Andrew founded Novum Ceramics and became the first commercial producer of Winemaking Amphorae in the country. Multiple winemakers use his amphorae, and he has a waiting list for these beautiful vessels.
On the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge AVA, Syncline Winery sits on the Steep Creek Ranch Vineyard. James Mantone and his wife Poppie made their first vintage in 1999. They had met a few years before in the Willamette Valley, where they worked together at a custom crush house. They moved to the Columbia Valley and found this property in 2003. They now have 17 acres of estate vineyards.
James speaks of the “tortured topography” of the gorge, and they sit where the gorge transitions from the cool marine influence to the high desert climate.
The vineyards they farm are farmed with biodynamic and organic philosophies and practices. They work to feed the microorganisms in the soil, nurturing native plants as cover crops and using organic compost.
He and Poppie have been involved in biodynamics for over 20 years. They do it for themselves, their family, & their work environment.
Farming is meaningful work for them. James told me when we visited “Food and beverage should do more than just provide fats, carbs, and protein.” I couldn’t agree more.
Just outside of the Yakima Valley AVA in Naches Heights, you find Wilridge Vineyard. Paul Beverage has been making wine since 1988, and Wilridge is the oldest winery in Seattle. In 2007 he planted the Wilridge Vineyard and became the first Organic and Biodynamic Vineyard, Winery & Distillery (Yes, he makes artisan brandy) in Washington State.
He remains one of only a few Biodynamic Certified Vineyards in the state. He chose this method because he saw the difference in the bottle. The wines worldwide that he found to be the highest quality came from biodynamic vineyards.
In addition, he sees the climate in Washington as being perfectly suited for this method of agriculture. They have lots of sun and little rain, so worries about fungal disease are minimal.
There is a downside, grapes grow well here, and so do weeds. Still, he prefers the labor and cost of weeding to the use of Glyphosate (Round Up) in the vineyards. On his site, he has a paraphrased quote from Rudolf Steiner “One cannot enhance life by spraying death.”
Hedges Family Estate,
Red Mountain Washington
Tom Hedges was raised in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State. He worked in International Produce Sales, traveling the world with his family. Tom & Anne-Marie Hedges purchased the land for Hedges Family Estate in 1989 on Red Mountain in Washington’s Yakima Valley.
Sarah Hedges Goedhart grew up spending summers here at the vineyard. After getting hooked on wine in Santa Barbara, she spent time working in Healdsburg at Preston, where she learned all about organic and biodynamic viticulture.
In 2006 Sarah became the assistant winemaker, and in 2007 they began the conversion of the family vineyards to biodynamics. In 2015 Sarah Hedges Goedhart became the head winemaker.
They use chickens for pest control. You see them roaming the property, including the beautiful French-style Château.
When we visited with Sarah back in 2019, she told me why biodynamics was so important to her
“Preserving land for the future, for kids, for everybody. I think that’s the one thing on this planet that we’re screwing up, and we really need to turn it around. What do we call ourselves? Stewards of the land, it’s our responsibility to keep it around.”
More coming in 2024!
This is an ever-evolving story
We will be exploring different regions and telling their stories. This effort is fluid just like our living earth, we have plan with an arc that will branch off into other rabbit holes.
There is a growing movement with Documentaries like “Biggest Little Farm,” and then “Kiss the Ground’s” who released first feature and will release their next feature film to the masses soon.
We have seen a growing movement and more and more farmers and vintners leaning toward regenerative farming. We primarily cover wineries, and find that they have been leading the charge. They are a small part of the farming community, but they all want to help make the change.
We have the facilities to cover this story and help saturate, educate, and motivate both a younger and older generation to help be the change. We now see the climate crisis all around us. We can support Biodynamics and Regenerative Organic by educating people in general about the benefits of these methods making Biodynamics and Regenerative Organic household words.
Our Script has the Outline, the players/Partners, and the Ending. The meat of the story is how they started, their path, their evolution, their perseverance, their leadership, all inspiring in their unique way. All part of one thriving Ecosystem.
A story that is right in front of our faces, but not yet heard by the masses.
Watch a Discovering Wine Country Episode to introduce you to Biodynamics and Regeneration Organic
The Start of the Plan
We started filming for the first Feature Film at the end of May 2025.
How this team will work
We will have in field, writers who also will be shooting Video exclusively for this production and will also be writing and telling the stories of these Leaders in Viticulture literally in the field (or vineyard). They will share with you the stories of these vintners who are creating vibrant and energetic wines, that show off that living ecosystem.
The Wineries are featured Partners. They have their story to tell and are providing their time and involvement to make this a better place to live in, leading by example, willing to invite us all in to tell their stories.
42 Aspens Productions, will help tell these stories to be shown to the public, to teach, educate, enlighten, lead, and provide the opportunities and knowledge to join in this movement and become an ECO Avenger.
You all are players that we are enticing to jump in, join the movement, Be the change, take control.
We must lead by example.
Be The Change!