Biodynamic and Regenerative Farming With Craig Camp of Troon Vineyard


by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Feb 10, 2023

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Last Updated on February 10, 2023 by rise25

Craig Camp
Biodynamic and Regenerative Farming With Craig Camp of Troon Vineyard 11

Craig Camp is the General Manager of Troon Vineyard, fomenting another revolution in the beautiful Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon. Surrounded by the Siskiyou Mountains, Craig and the whole Troon Vineyard team make natural wines now Demeter Biodynamic® and organic-certified both in the vineyard and the cellar.

Aside from managing Troon Vineyard, Craig is currently President of the Applegate Valley Vintners Association and serves on the Board of Directors of the Oregon Winegrowers Association and the Rhône Rangers. Before this, he served on the Board of Directors of the Howell Mountain Growers Association and on the Napa Valley Vintners Association Marketing Committee, of which he also served as chairman. Craig was honored to be named one of “Wine’s Most Inspiring People 2021” by the Wine Industry Network.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Craig Camp talks about where Troon Vineyards is located
  • Craig shares how he started in the wine industry
  • Regenerative farming as the wine industry’s future in sustainability
  • The concept of biodynamic farming
  • Craig talks about the process of shaping a biodynamic winery
  • The secret to staying motivated in the wine industry

In this episode with Craig Camp

How does biodynamic and regenerative farming pave the way for more sustainable practices in the wine industry?

This groundbreaking approach enables wineries around the globe to lessen their environmental footprint. This quest allows the industry to return more than it takes from nature’s plants and soils. If you’re interested in biodynamic and regenerative farming, stick with us.

In today’s episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon are joined by Craig Camp, General Manager of Troon Vineyard, to talk about biodynamic and regenerative farming. Craig also shares how other wineries can integrate this practice and cultivate a more sustainable wine industry.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:03

Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry with your host Drew Thomas Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show

Drew Thomas Hendricks 0:19

Hi, everyone. Drew Thomas Hendricks here, I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. On the show, I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we work with you to implement a one of a kind marketing strategy. One that highlights your authenticity tells your story and connects you with your ideal customers. In short, we help wineries and craft beverage producers unlock their story unleash their revenue, go to barrelsahead.com today to learn more. Now today, Bianca Harmon our DTC strategist is joining us again. How’s it going, Bianca?

Bianca Harmon 0:55

It’s going good Drew, excited to talk to Craig today.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 0:58

Yes, today we are talking about regenerative farming with Craig Camp. Craig is the general manager of Troon Vineyards. Welcome to the show, Greg.

Craig Camp 1:09

Great to be here as as we approach harvest. I know that a lot of California people are already harvesting but we’re a little ways away yet, but we’re starting to think about it now.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 1:19

Yeah, we’re recording the show. Let’s see. It’s August 18. We’re recording the show. So you’re located so Troon Vineyards is in Applegate valley down in Southern Oregon.

Craig Camp 1:29

Right so we’re in extreme southwestern Oregon. So we’re 25 miles from the California border and 60 miles from the Pacific Ocean, here in the Siskiyou mountains. So very, very different than Willamette Valley and, and Napa and Sonoma. So forth to the southwest. We’re kind of a transitional area. We’re Cooler and dry and wetter than Napa and Sonoma, but we’re warmer and drier than the Willamette Valley. So we are more focused on Southern French varieties. So we’re not the I know, obviously, the well deserved reputation of Oregon Pinot Noir. But we don’t grow anything anymore. We’re growing Sariah we’re bedre Grenache, ash, and Marsanne Roussanne. so forth, because that’s really what’s ideal for this climate. So we’re, we’re at a rally Florida is about 1400 feet, we’re we’re relocated in the Siskiyou mountains around us top out at about 7000 feet. And so it’s a really rugged, beautiful area.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 2:37

Sounds fantastic. I

Bianca Harmon 2:39

was just out in that region a couple of weeks ago, actually went Grants Pass was having 112 degree weather.

Craig Camp 2:49

Yes, yeah, we’re for it. Yeah, we’re a little cooler than some of the areas because we’re closer to the ocean. So we get the warm days, we get really cold night, so you get a diurnal show 50 degrees of normal, normal days are gonna be 100 In the afternoon, 50 by 10 o’clock. So it’s a it’s really you know, it works the heat of course, as it gets hot here in the inland that heat rises. And because the Rogue River cuts through the mountains and creates a channel, so that hot air rises, and it just pulls that cold air and off the Pacific Ocean, and, and closes down. So it’s an interesting growing area because we so we get about, obviously, this altitude and spring north, our growing season is shorter than the typical California growing season. But on the longest day of the year, we’re getting almost 70 minutes more sunshine than say Napa does. So and I don’t get any fog or anything in the morning. So I’m able to ripen because of the these varieties because the really long days, and then a harvest reverses. So we’re picking our resin October and the days get really short and it’s not uncommon to have 30 degree days in the morning. So at that point, the photosynthesis almost comes to a stop. And I can let the grapes hang and develop flavor without the sugars going up or without losing acids. So the Applegate Valley style is wines that are naturally more moderate alcohol and high in acidity.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 4:24

Very interesting. Now, as far as we’re gonna talk about trend, for sure, but I want to learn a little bit more about you. How did you get your start now you didn’t start as a wine in the wine industry?

Craig Camp 4:35

Well, I had a brief affair with journalism after college. And then when I when I was when I was in college, I spent a semester studying air quotes in Europe. And so we were buying got France and I said, Well, I should buy some wine. So I started having wine there and came back to the United States feeling incredibly sophisticated and went to the To store to buy a bottle of wine and realized I didn’t know how to buy, buy the wine here, and so as off to start reading books, and I just went down there and it just pulled me into it and within a few years a friend of mine and I started a, an import company and distributorship in Chicago, the system late 79 called direct and port wine company. And so we were really the first to start bringing in small domain wines. So we were importing Becky Wasserman Burgundy’s Oh, yeah, and then the Italian wines. And then we did the same thing on the West Coast, sold that after 20 years, and went into the production side, which I’ve been doing now for also over 20 years. So I’ve been doing it in a long time and kind of touching base through through the industry, from from sales to production. So

Drew Thomas Hendricks 5:56

now as far as production, but I really want to jump to the topic is regenerative farming in biodynamics that I’m interested that you guys employ it and you’ve got some incredible videos on the site. What is it about regenerative farming that really holds kind of the future of I think the wine industry for sustainability?

Craig Camp 6:16

Well, you know, I think like most people, when I first heard about biodynamics, I was just skeptical to say the least.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 6:27

You will hear stories like only harvest on a certain

Craig Camp 6:30

mood, right? All right. But you know, you could taste the wines and say, well, that’s a great bottle of wine turned around. After enough repetitions of that, you realize that there’s something here and and you start to dig into it. And the process for me was really discovering what a viewpoint I have towards biodynamics, which I call practical biodynamics. So there’s there is a spiritual side to something the way some people practice biodynamics. We don’t really follow that side of the Steiner spiritual side. Too much what we feel is that there’s significant amounts that we just don’t know about how plants work and how soil systems work, and that biodynamics is, in essence, this proactive probiotic program. So we’re doing all these fermentations. The famous one, of course, is 500. Because everybody likes to see the pictures of the cow horns makes, you know, good pictures makes for good coverage. And but what you’re doing is taking fresh raw manure and you bury that in the horns over the winter. And what you end up with, after six months, is this beautiful, it looks like the most beautiful potting soil you’ve ever seen in your life. It’s gone through this transition. So does it need the power of the universe to funnel down through the horn to do that? I don’t think so. I think nature’s microbiology is quite adequate to make this transition. The thing is, the horns seem to work as far as a vessel. But so we were always experimenting with other things and looking for better solutions. But now it’s the it’s all these

Drew Thomas Hendricks 8:16

fermentation is the 500 year term or is that a standard button and make turn the

Craig Camp 8:21

standard biodynamic term, so you have the various biodynamic preparations, the majority of which are actually applied in the vineyard. And then the rest are mostly applied on the compost piles. Okay, and, but these are all the all all fermentation. So the 500 All you’re doing is collecting that microbiology that’s in your soil, and then making teas out of it and then spraying that onto the vineyard floor. So you, you’re adding it to the dirt, you’re not spraying it on the plants. So you’re what you’re doing is trying to feed the microbes that are in the ground, because you’re we’re trying to build natural systems. So we want and the soil to work as it evolved to work. Life and the soil to work is that involved work and plan of work the way they evolve to work. You know, we’re humans, we’re very arrogant to say, you know, we think we know more about growing grapes and grape vines, and our job. Our job is not to tell the grapevine what to do, but to help it do what it naturally has evolved to do. And if you do that, you’ll end up with healthier fruit. It’s like anything else so you can’t do it anywhere. biodynamic agriculture, and regenerative agriculture, you have to grow a plant in an area that naturally wants to grow. If you if you force a plant into an unnatural area, you’re going to be forced to use chemicals to you know, protect them from pests and add fertilizers because that terroir that area is not set to grow that that plant. So what we’re trying to do is simply put things where they want to be. And that’s really the process and then revitalize

Drew Thomas Hendricks 10:07

the soil that was trimmed vineyards always biodynamically farmed, or is this something that no

Craig Camp 10:13

I got here in 2016. And may that started to make the transition I before coming here, I had been in Willamette Valley for a long time than a Napa Valley for a long time. And then I, when I was in the Willamette Valley, I had been buying fruit down here, some Saran venia. And I was really, you know, transfixed by the area was natural beauty, but also the interesting growing area, the ability to grow wines that have kind of that natural Old World balance with the high acid and the lower alcohol. That’s something that we can do here naturally. So I wanted to go someplace where the plants wanted to make that kind of I moved instead of moving the plants,

Drew Thomas Hendricks 10:53

okay, I want to change the theme when you switched over to this regenerative agriculture.

Craig Camp 11:00

Well, true and tourism historic site, it was planted by Dick Troon, that’s where the name comes from, in 1972. And so he was a real pioneer, pretty traditional old farmer, not that he had this great love of wine. But, you know, he was looking for a craft that would make him more money than when he was growing, I think. So so. And then there was another honors in between, been conventionally farmed, and for all this period, and the the soil conditions were it was real high compaction, really, a lot of disease in the vines. It’s such a beautiful sight. If you look at it, you see that, you know, it’s got this beautiful southwestern role. It’s got this wonderful soul pipes, but it but by by the type of farming, it had compacted the soils, you know, and taking the life out of the soil itself, and allow disease to get him into the vines. So I wanted a structure to be able to bring this vineyard back. And I felt that biodynamics would provide that framework. Because, again, the idea of bringing life back into a site, which is the concept of biodynamics, really, you’re looking at your your farm as a as a as a complete organism on its own. So you want this bio diverse farm. So we have our farms 100 acres. We have 50 acres of vines, and then we have five acres of apple trees, cider apple trees, and we have over 40 different clones of cider apples and two acre vegetable garden, which we call a garden, suppose two acres is a little big for grass. And then six acres of hay that we grow for our livestock. We have sheep and chickens and dogs and then the volunteers like the coyotes and cougars, by two but so the whole thing is that creating that biodiversity so you have all this these natural predators and Predator incent beneficial insects and things like that, to balance your system. And that’s what we’re trying to do is create harmony all the time. And I think that’s the strength of biodynamics. But then, a couple of years ago, the regenerative organic Alliance created the regenerative organic certification, which we’re very proud to be the second winery in the world to achieve. Our friends of Tablas Creek. I was gonna ask about that. We’re first and we’re, we’re very similar wineries. Actually, they’re bigger than we are. But we grow the same varieties. We farm this way. So we have a lot of interaction. We have a

Drew Thomas Hendricks 13:48

lot of my favorite favorite wines. Yeah, yeah,

Craig Camp 13:51

they’re great with really doing and I originally met Jason hoster, the rangers and then we’ve made this connection over the years. And we’re kind of like when we were very much mirror images of each other. We have the same philosophies, the same, even the same approach to buy the namics where we practice a practical form of biodynamics, but the biodynamic you know, it’s like organic agriculture, which tells you what you can’t do, you know, can’t do this can’t do that. And then biodynamics is the structure that creates these these proactive from fermented probiotic treatments and develops the whole farm concept and biodiversity and regenerative you builds on top of that, because in regenerative certification, you you have to do all of those things. Plus, you actually have to show that you’re making things better. It’s not just sustained things, you actually have to go in and have soil samples done and show that we are increasing carbon sequestration and building organic matter and actually making things better not just does the, you know, you can’t, we can’t be sustainable anymore. We actually have to improve and make things better.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 14:59

I Yes. So getting that certification how, how has that done?

Craig Camp 15:05

Well, you call up the regenerative organic plants and apply,

Drew Thomas Hendricks 15:10

what do you have to prove? In order to get this? Well,

Craig Camp 15:15

first of all, you know, you so you have to be certified organic even apply. That’s, that’s.

Bianca Harmon 15:22

So you can’t even do it. I mean, it takes about three years to become certified organic, so you can’t even do any, you could just be practicing all of this. But until that organic tag hits, you can’t even apply for it.

Craig Camp 15:35

Right. So I mean, then, since we converted from conventional, we had to go through that three year period for both domitor biodynamic and organic certified. And then at that end of that point, it was actually about the time they started with this new certification. So we were already certified, biodynamic, and and organic by the time they came out with it. And on the agriculture side of things, we were already basically touching all the bases of the way to farm it was the next step was to go beyond and take the soil samples every year and show how we’re actually improving thing. But on top of that, they add animal welfare programs which have to be certified for animal welfare we have, we have sheep and chickens here, but we don’t raise them from meat, they’re actually there, their job is to eat process and deposit the the results of their work in the vineyard. And, and then the social welfare platform, which actually you have to go in and show that, that, you know, you’re treating everyone in your organization properly, that they work in a safe environment, both psychologically and and physically, you know, and, you know, production from sexual harassment, providing health insurance, fair wages and good working conditions. So there’s those three pillars, the agriculture, the animals, and the social fairness that you have to go through. So it’s a pretty substantial investment in time. And so we were able to qualify for the silver level in the first year, tablets. And now this year, we are completing our gold level requirements.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 17:20

That’s fantastic. Now, when you came on board, was the ownership or were they directing this? Or is this something that you came in and said, Yes,

Craig Camp 17:28

I came on first. And that actually came out and I was looking to come back to Oregon and the current owners wanted to sell and they had a lot of things that had to be taken care of. And I’ve done that in the past that another winery so they kind of recruited me and I thought it’d be a good idea to come back. You know, Oregon, I probably thought I would end up back in Willamette Valley but then I fell in love with this vineyard but and then so we put things together, we started this process. And then we found Dr. Brian and Denise White from Texas who purchased the property and have fully engaged and invested in this whole

Drew Thomas Hendricks 18:11

process. Okay, that’s fantastic. That’s

Bianca Harmon 18:14

uh, you’re running everything then because they’re sharing their time in Texas correct. And Oregon?

Craig Camp 18:19

Yes. Yeah.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 18:22

That’s great ownership would have had the buy in and a lot empowered you to do what you needed to do and to these vineyards

Craig Camp 18:30

Yes, you don’t really have to it’s a tremendous investment upfront. In the long run, I think you’re actually lower your costs. But in the in the beginning there’s you’d have to make investments in equipment and people and that’s, that’s expensive, you know, so agriculture in general is is not famed for its quick return on investment

Drew Thomas Hendricks 18:52

or to or to a winery like looking to get into it what I mean there’s the there’s the human investment but what sort of equipment is necessary to get into like what you’re setting up

Craig Camp 19:04

basically like so you’re for in our case, the most expensive parts have been in the in the vineyard since we move to no till so it’s there’s there’s no tilling under the vine or in the vine so we maintain moisture in the ground and doesn’t don’t disrupt the microbiology that’s in the ground. So you have to buy special mowers and then are buying towing equipment to establish that crop. And so that’s a three year process and alone. So, you know, we, we the You wouldn’t believe how much money we spent on seeds. to replant this we have over 20 Different plants that go into our cover crop looking towards building nutrition in the long term. And then we invested in no till cedar so that we can actually add plants to this crop. You know, it’s the you know, crop rotations pretty hard to do with grape vines. So, so he Yeah, the the cover crop is our crop rotation. So we are developing our soil nutrition through the cover crop

Drew Thomas Hendricks 20:11

IDs that is the cover crop use for the different fermentations for the compost pile, or is that a SEP No,

Craig Camp 20:17

this is we grow those separately. We have we have an area of native plants and then these various plants that we’re growing for the biodynamic preparations, you know, like valerian. The dandelions are volunteers. We don’t need to farm the dandelions, we just go out and pick them. But but so we grow that aren’t you know, stinging nettles, whose that was, the idea is, is to not bring things from off the farm, you want to minimize off farm inputs. So we want to generate everything we can right on the farm itself.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 20:47

So that Yeah, so for the person that may not be as familiar and I wasn’t until a few minutes ago to walk us through the different permutations. And Kim, Emile valerian Yarrow and what is actually do

Craig Camp 21:04

so each of those is, so we’ll start with the the field preparations, you have the 500, which we talked about, which is the cow manure, it was born, and that’s applied to the ground, then there’s a ground quartz Fiber One. And that is actually applied to the plant to aid in photosynthesis, and also helps protect it from pests. So that’s basically it. Those are multiple applications that we do. And then than the rest of these, the Kameel valerian, you know, the stinging nettle, dandelion, all of these go through fermentation, but then they are applied to the compost itself. They the compost, in its development, and compost is really the foundation of everything that we do. We’re very fortunate to have a large organic dairy as an exterminator. So I can, I can pick up the phone call Sharon and I have tons and tons of manure that’s just started arriving. Very great. And it’s right here with our microbiology is literally next door. So and they’ve been organic since 2004. So it’s I mean, it’s a great, great fortune for us and a few extra dollars for them. And so it works out but we buy 400 tons of manure a year. And that goes through a year long process. Now there’s organic compost getting rid of

Drew Thomas Hendricks 22:40

it seems like they should be giving you

Craig Camp 22:43

that everybody wants manure now. We live out here in the country. There are people that want manure, especially organic manure, you just can’t get it everywhere and everything. So we you know, we were we were at and we’re going through the manure, so we get that 400 tons and that goes through a year long process of fermenting. Now the organic compost is a much hotter fermentation get the piles really hot, because they they’re trying to kill off the microbiology, we as a biodynamic producer, do it much cooler, because we actually want to increase the Microbiology in the soil. So USDA doesn’t consider what we make as as finished compost. So we add that but we don’t add it on until after we pick the grapes anyway, but so the preparations are added to that and they each help that that that manure make that transformation again. So you start with raw manure and a year later you get what looks again like like potting soil then we applied two tons an acre to the entire property every year. And everybody thinks that’s for fertilization, I mean certainly has some some aspects of fertilization but the primary reason again as we are adding microbiology to the soil and feeding the the microbiology that lives in the soil now which the cover grab yes about the cover crops. So the cover crops just become green manure. So We mowed them back they move more back in and they decompose into the ground. Very interesting

Bianca Harmon 24:32

is the upkeep in the process of this to continue this going every year. I mean, is it is it a lot of work. I mean, are you happy?

Craig Camp 24:39

Yes. It’s a lot of work but we feel the results are worth the investment. We feel we have better fruit which of course makes makes

Drew Thomas Hendricks 24:49

Yeah. Yeah, let’s talk about

Craig Camp 24:52

that’s the fundamental aspect. Now so you know as a as a as a biodynamic winery. We are minimalist in the cellar. or there’s very little we can do we so when when the grapes come in reformat the grapes, that’s it, there’s no, no sulfur added no anything.

Bianca Harmon 25:10

So the process is all done out in the vineyard. It’s the whole process is all basically out the vineyard out the farms.

Craig Camp 25:17

Yes, the idea is to come in with beautifully healthy fruit, which were in an ideal place because the pressures are low here because the humidity so well, in the summer, and, and the warmer days so that these make it’s not a good climate for powdery mildew, which is the biggest problem for every grape grower. But we’re able then to have these this, these very healthy grapes demand, and then just ferment those, so they’re going to all go into small fermenters. And the fermentation just starts and finishes zone, the st Bromell lactic fermentation. Alright, wines go through malolactic. We don’t use any new wood at all backwards, we’re changing over from wood to concrete. Oh, yeah, best as we can afford it. So we’re looking to take have a neutral expression through the winery, and then let the vineyard and the grapes, thanks for making the statement. So yeah, so it’s again, it’s all native use native yeast fermentation is really interesting, because, you know, when you’re a commercial Meyer, you would kill off all the yeast and then add in a cultured yeast and then very selected. So when we started fermentation, we may have dozens or hundreds of different beasts that are actually starting the fermentation. But most of them can’t survive past about four or 5% Alcohol. So you know, that’s yeast and make the alcohol to get rid of other competitors. But it’s not a very long term, not a good long term plan for their own lives either. So they end up killing themselves off, but it’s that first period where you’re getting down to that 5%, maybe getting 5%, alcohol, all those yeast growing, you really changed the textures and aromatics and flavors in the wine. And then of course, then Saccharomyces takes over and finishes the fermentation. But again, it’s a wild sacrifice is unique to our area.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 27:22

Yeah, we’re on so that kind of stops the fermentation around 13 14%.

Craig Camp 27:28

That either Well, in a good, I don’t get the 14% very often. But yeah, 13% range, you know, so you know, our wines would range, like a Rosae. I think last year was 11 and a half, and then are bigger or bigger reds like to not serraj would be about 13. Five.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 27:50

That’s yeah, that’s that’s the style, I kind of want to say grew up in my 20s i The European style, the southern Southern French style wines. And I was it was funny, I was talking to Daniel Daou who found a native yeast within his vineyard, I guess he had the money and budget to go find the one. And he found interviews within his vineyard that could actually ferment higher up to the 17. There was better than that kind of super strain yeast that dominated that smelled like cardboard. So it’s kind of funny that he’s Yeah.

Craig Camp 28:20

Yeah, I mean, you have to have the courage of your convictions to do native use for months. The interns have never done it before. They’re always like, just doing anything. Just wait a couple of days and start.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 28:36

So talk to us about the end results. So we’ve got the, you’ve got the regenerative biodynamic farming, you let the kind of the wind be made in the field. And then natural native yeast ferment fermentation. What is the final product? Talk to us about that? Well, we,

Craig Camp 28:54

you know, as I mentioned, we’re working basically with Southern French varieties. So blends are a very important part of what we do. We’re on a small geological formation called the Cooley bench. And it’s, it’s there’s a cliff of about 30 feet that kind of surrounds this bench. That’s about but 30 feet high, and it’s about five miles long and two miles wide. So it’s very small, but it’s this ancient course of the Applegate river came through here. And so we have these very distinct soil types here, the mountains around us, they were formed out in the Pacific Ocean and then we’re actually jammed up against the coast. I like that like the cascades to the east of us where there were volcanoes that came up. So we have this mixture of decomposed granite with sea sediment and river sediments running through the various properties. And so you when we replanted, we did everything so instead of like one blocker Sahra we put a blockage to write one soil and when another soil and they’re so insanely panache. So we have all these distinct types. And the idea is that is to take these blends of varieties, you know, famous things like GSM, for instance, but serraj would be NEA. And there’s that concentrate on making blends. So we have four blends called Coulee bench that we really concentrate on a red, white and Amber, which is an orange wine and a rosette. And the varieties can change every year, because we have 19 varieties planted on 50 acres. We’re working on wondering if we can find any Tiburon so but that so that’s, that’s the origin. So the idea is, we’re all here because we want to make these very elegant, balanced wines. And we get the raw material that can do that. And then this then go through this process of blending to create an interesting wine that represents that vintage. So the blends would change year to year, depending on how each variety does. And whenever possible, we like to do co ferments because we think a co fermentation really, you know, you have the two varieties in the fermenter, it really changes the chemistry of the fermenter, or just slightly different yeast coming from different blocks, and just changes the wine totally a go from it, as you know, because we sometimes we have the same varieties fermented separately, and we make the exact same blend as a blend as compared to the CO format. And they’re totally different wines. It’s really, really, really fascinating. But obviously, you have to be able to pick something at about the same time to be able to do a cold. We can’t do that with everything. Then we have a range of interesting single varieties that can change by by the year. Tonight’s ROM or veteran.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 31:50

Yeah, I’m looking at tonight. Yeah, yeah.

Craig Camp 31:55

We do make we make a blown or sparkling wine from tonight, which is probably not a lot of those on the market. But we started to do that. Because Nate Waller winemaker, you looked at the chemistry of that block and goes, that looks like Smartline planes. Well, there you go. Which so and now it’s been a sparkling wine number sense because the acidity on them, Brian can be extremely high in this one block. And it’s gonna take you get a really, really low pH is so it’s ideal for sparkling

Drew Thomas Hendricks 32:26

and got a seven.

Craig Camp 32:29

Yeah, so it’s it’s a pet NAT style. So it’s a fermented in the bottle naturally. And so on the native use. It’s a lot of work to do, but we’re really happy with the results.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 32:42

Yeah, how do you so I mean, I sold one for a long time. But how do you get the new consumer to be trying some of these? Is it? Is it just in general, that general trend in beverages with new and all the Kombucha is and all the ciders where people are now more receptive to the orange wines and the pet nut? Or?

Craig Camp 33:03

Yeah, I’ve been actually surprised how quickly the market has changed. I mean, orange wine now is almost a established category.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 33:12

I couldn’t believe it. I was, I was in our little finalist sections. I was at a local pub, a bottle craft, and instead there’s a fish taco place there. And it’s down by the beach for I live in, there was about five picnic tables. And I was looking across the picnic tables on Sunday night. And every table had an orange wine on it. And I never thought I’d see that it was like,

Craig Camp 33:33

nice. That’s amazing. The transition. You know, what’s happened, I think is you know, there’s been a lot of distributor consolidation over the years. And there’s these giant companies and, and it opened up an opportunity for a lot of smaller to medium sized distributors to really commit to this style of wine. And their whole business model is working with organic biodynamic, regenerative wines. And then surrounding them, there’s been, you know, a significant growth in the customers that want those kinds of wines where you’ve got these wine bars and these small independent wine shops. And that’s really the kind of wines that they hang their hats on. So between these distributors in this network, and it’s all over the country now. I mean, you go to I don’t care what city you go to Little Rock anywhere, there’s natural wine bars, you know, through the whole country. So, you know, we’re a small winery, and we’re currently and what 17 states and three Canadian provinces. And that’s about maximum velocity for us right now. So we just, there’s, there’s just there’s a market out there for authentic wines, and I don’t mean just natural wines, but, you know, natural wines is it’s, it’s kind of a descriptor I’m not totally comfortable with but

Drew Thomas Hendricks 34:58

to describe it, I mean, I I was talking to my wife, we had a we had a bottle of ourselves that night. And she she liked it because she travels like seconds kind of this cross between the ciders. He liked to drink in the wines. I like to drink.

Craig Camp 35:11

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, her whole thing to go ahead. Oh, no, keep going. Our whole thing is that we don’t like windfalls even though we’re a natural wine company. So we don’t like Brett and VA, and things like that in our wine. And the way you do that is as a natural wine producers. Since you don’t I mean, there’s not much you can do to the wine. Yeah. So you have to have exceptionally healthy fruit. And you have to be just super clean in the one. Yeah, I mean, you have to have every detail done, you can’t let anything go. And you just have to really, really stay on top of it. So and Nate wall has been, you know, really taking the winemaking to a different level here. And I think that’s why we’re as successful as we are. Then we, you know, we added good.

Bianca Harmon 36:07

Oh, nothing, I was just gonna I was just gonna ask you honestly, like what advice then you would give to somebody that is wanting to go into this by now biodynamic farming. And, you know, because I truly believe that the biodynamic term is thrown around pretty loosely. In the wine industry, I’ve heard Oh, I do biodynamic farming and then like to they actually though, or do they not. And so somebody’s body, this, you would just be perfect for like, advice. And

Craig Camp 36:44

everybody as far as fine and everybody wants everybody else to form. You know, if you want help just talk to a biodynamic farmer, and they will go out of your way to help you become biodynamic, too, because we’re not doing, you know, our little 100 acre farm here is not the way we’re farming is not going to change climate change, we need to have 10s of 10s of 1000s of acres, hundreds of those millions of acres convert to this type of agriculture. And that’s why I think certifications are important, is it really sends the message out. So by us committing to getting the certification and putting that on the label, I think we communicate to consumers that there is something out there to look for. And if people see us absence us. I mean, you have I mean, it’s agriculture, we can’t, we you have to make a margin, you can’t, you know, just lose money on your farm, you have to actually do it, I think this is one of the best ways to do that. But it’s a lot of work upfront, you’ll get you’ll get, you’ll get just tremendous help from from the community. And, and the code because there’s a commitment to the whole idea. It’s not just simply, you know, people say oh, by the MSS, you’re just doing that for a marketing. It’s talking to my accountant. You know, they don’t think I’m doing it for marketing.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 38:07

Sure, for sure on that. But on the marketing in the in the national lines, I mean, there’s always that navigating the natural wine category, there is a lot of fun. And yes, it’s good to hear. So you’re going on the clean side, and there’s a lot of people that really love Brett. So it’s kind of you gotta have a very ya gotta have an open mind and the natural wine category and what you’re getting is similar to beers, or ciders, you’re gonna get a lot of different variety in there. So you would describe your Trend is more on the cleaner cleaners? Absolutely.

Craig Camp 38:40

Yeah, absolutely. You know, we make the wines we love, you know, I think that’s it. That’s the ultimate business decision for a small winery, is you really have to make what you love you. Otherwise you don’t have a real story, a real reason to exist. So we do this out of out of this is what we believe this is what we really think is the right thing to do to make better wine. I mean, I originally made the transformation of biodynamics. My initial choice was was that I felt it would make better wine. You know, that was the number one thing and the climate stuff is like, bonus points. Let’s go. Yeah, but I wanted to farm the way I thought would make better wine.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 39:23

And that you’re always on the pursuit of better when I’m a big fan of your blog. And you just had a recent article come out I think in July read it about that. Watching the the eye of the beholder and the story about your experience of the optical sorter and what it did to the wine to talk to us about it was fascinated by that article.

Craig Camp 39:45

Well, it’s a hard concept of Beholder share is that you know, the artist makes a creation but that’s only 50% of the experience and is the beholder the viewer and supplies that other 50% and i i I felt that that applies to wine too is what we bring to what you as a consumer bring to the wine is what makes the total experience complete. So, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of wines that are the same in the world and and there’s this kind of baseline is ultra right fruity style and, and that’s where the optical sorter comes in, I guess. optical sorter is for those who have never seen one, when I saw it for the first time, it’s like, it’s a miracle, you know, you think it’s like, look at that, that’s how I can’t believe it. Because out of one, one side comes these perfect little blueberries of grapes. And the other side, everything else comes up. And you can just just runs this much faster than humans and much, much more accurate than humans. But what I discovered is, is when you take out all the imperfections, you also take out a lot of the parts that make wine. Interesting, I think that a wine is made with grapes of slightly different brightnesses with different acids and different sugar levels. Make a more interesting, more layered wine. And when the couple of years that I use the optical sorter, I felt it took like the soul out of the wine, you know, you had with this shirt was beautiful. It was clean, it was fruity. But it wasn’t very interesting. And it didn’t have any edges to it. You know, there’s nothing to grip on to and really identify it other than this kind of bland, clean, deeply fruity one.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 41:36

Yeah, it’s like beauty lies in the not the imperfections, but the differences and everything out of thing, and you just make some of the ideal stereotype. And it’s, you’ve got to, like I said, lacks the soul.

Craig Camp 41:48

Yeah. And that saying, you know, you put the moldy crepes in and everything. But no, yes. But there’s that, you know, it’s just that if you take too much, you’re taking things away eventually. And you just don’t want to keep taking things away. And that’s our whole winemaking philosophy. That’s what we don’t filter. You know, that’s where we’re not we don’t find, because we feel that everything takes something away, is there is a wine, little hazy sometimes, occasionally one of the orange wines and things like there are but we feel we would lose more by taking that out than by just leaving it there. Instead of going for some squeaky clean. You know, clear wine, just go for the flavor and the complexity.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 42:35

That’s a, that’s a NAB that wants to see that it’s on Gregcamp.com. He’s also you’re also a very accomplished photographer, my backgrounds, that’s

Craig Camp 42:45

what I actually did every job for a few years. And then I got wines.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 42:50

I was, I’ve been a photographer from it. I haven’t taken many lately, I but back in the day. And really, it’s been a passion of mine. So I gotta compliment you also on your photography, thank you. There’s some great vineyard shots in there.

Craig Camp 43:04

Well, we’re lucky as an industry that we’re in a in a very visual friendly environment most the time, you know, I’m surrounded by grape vines and beautiful mountains and sheep and things like that. So there’s lots of things to take pictures stuff. And you know, people like what we do, you know, it’s not like we’re, you know, we’re putting pictures of shoes up or something like that people are really interested in seeing what’s happening on a farm like ours, and we love to share it. And, you know, the getting other people on board to farm this way, if somebody wants to do I would just encourage anybody that’s going to do this is you know, talk to people and just realize it’s going to take take a while and you can’t do it all at once your exam. This year, I’m going to accomplish these things. And next year, I’m gonna add this layer and that layer and that layer. And then seven, eight years later, you’ve you’ve really got the whole the whole system in place and working and then and then you can really move forward.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 44:03

Absolutely. Craig, as we’re kind of wrapping down, I like to kind of ask them, How do you stay motivated? And what advice do you give the winemaker get into gym fitness out staying motivated in this industry?

Craig Camp 44:17

Yeah, I mean, it can be I mean, certainly anybody that has to deal with the sales side is can get very, very frustrated. Distribution is difficult. And you have to you have to have a serious ability to absorb rejection and keep going. But you know, I you know, you just there’s a feeling about doing something like this that guess it just really gets into you with elevates your spirit so that you can go out and do that day after day and feel like you’re really doing something not for the planet for making something that people enjoy but also You know, just rejuvenating yourself working on a farm and agricultural area is a very rejuvenating experience. So we’re lucky that we have that to recharge our batteries all the time. And then you know, every year you get the vintage and it’s so exciting to see what you’re going to do this year, because we never know quite for sure. Where what’s going to come out of it, you know, the grips kind of tell us where they want to go. So it’s an adventure. It’s an adventure every year.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 45:33

That’s fantastic. So, Craig, where can people find out more about you? Troon Vineyards and the work you’re doing?

Craig Camp 45:41

So we’re troonvineyard.com. And you mentioned craigcamp.com, where I write and I’m on social that at Craig Camp, and we are at Troon Wines and social and we have a very active social media presence. So if you like to seizures, baby lambs and grapes and things like that, just tune in to the trim feed.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 46:06

Awesome. Well, Craig, thank you so much for joining us today.

Craig Camp 46:10

Thank you for having me respond. There’s a lot of fun.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 46:13

Definitely got to have us. Do that. Thank you.

Outro 46:25

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