The Regenerative Viticulture Foundation is a charity with the objective of understanding and promoting the benefits of regenerative agriculture as it relates to viticulture.
The vast majority of today’s vineyards are mono-crop environments dependent on external high energy inputs; such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Their management practices are harmful to soil, to life habitat above and below ground and cause loss of topsoil.
It is estimated that at least 50% of the carbon in the earth’s soils has been released into the atmosphere over the past centuries and agriculture is one of the major contributors, but instead of being part of the problem, AGRICULTURE CAN BE A MAJOR PART OF THE SOLUTION. Regenerative agriculture is a promising solution for bringing that carbon back home and addressing climate change, since healthy living soils can function as a carbon sink, storing CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Bare soil oxidizes carbon, whereas plants protect it and therefore cover crops and reduced or eliminated tillage are essential to enhance the capacity of the soil to sequester and store atmospheric carbon. By improving the photosynthetic capacity through the use of multi-species cover crops, several studies assessing the carbon balance of vineyards have found that vineyards have great potential for storing carbon.
Many wine estates around the world are already adopting regenerative farming practices yet are not following any particular code or formal farming structure. Their experience and knowledge will play an important role of helping other farmers understand the benefits and challenges of moving away from ‘conventional’ farming and working more closely with nature.
“Our mission is to support a transition away from a chemical based monocultural agriculture that is degenerative to soil and local ecosystems, towards a regenerative agriculture as it relates to the management of vineyards, and for Regenerative Viticulture to become ‘the new conventional.” - Jesper Saxgren, Trustee
Our objectives are to:
Our non-profit organisation provides, for the first time, a truly global regenerative viticulture network with board representation from the USA, UK, France, Australia and Denmark.
Stephen joined the London wine trade in his early-twenties and within a few years set up his own wine business. Twenty years and three children later he moved his family to Provence where he and his wife, Jeany, founded Mirabeau which is now an internationally recognised rosé wine brand.
In 2019 they acquired a 20-hectare estate near La Garde Freinet in the Côtes de Provence appellation. The soil, having been intensively farmed for the previous 25 years, resembled a moon landscape so the couple decided to do everything to bring the estate back to life. Having looked into regenerative agriculture (RA), as well as organic viticulture, the path was set to convert their piece of land back to its natural glory and invite life back into its soils. This is steadily being undertaken with the guidance and support of regenerative viticulture pioneers and we will be measuring the impact of this holistic system of farming over time.
With over 35 years’ experience in the fields of ecology, permaculture, agro-ecological farming, watershed and ecosystems management, Jesper has been working as planner, teacher, facilitator and consultant in Denmark as well as with NGO’s in Nepal, Ghana, Bolivia and Bhutan. He has established and contributed to a number of highly acknowledged ecological projects, including substantial fund-raising for their realisation and published documented processes and results in reports and articles.
Currently Jesper is a vice-chairman in Organic Demarks Global Committee and appointed ambassador for EARTH University in Costa Rica (a private non-profit university which offers a four-year undergraduate program in agricultural sciences and natural resources management).
Mimi grew up on her family’s vineyard, Bethel Heights. Having spent some time working in various National Forests, she gained an MS from Oregon State University in Forest Science and spent the next several years working as a botanist and ecologist for the Forest Service. Her work in the forests led her to realize that the greatest threats to the future of the planet and all species had to be addressed at its root - in the agricultural and working land base.
Mimi returned to Bethel Heights in 2005, where she implemented new farming systems and began a journey of experimentation and discovery. In 2016 she left Bethel Heights to grow and make wine at her home vineyard and living laboratory, Hope Well. Hope Well is the living model for a habitat-based regenerative model for agriculture. Mimi’s experiments are all with the goal of producing the most nutrient-dense, healthy food and wine, while recovering the natural systems of nutrient cycling, improving biodiversity and species retention, and maximizing the function and output of a diverse ecosystem.
Alistair is a Viticulture Climatologist with significant expertise in how weather and climate interface with wine production, globally. He holds a PhD in viticulture and climate science and a BSc and Master’s degree in Viticulture & Oenology. Alistair lectures internationally on viticulture – climate relations, consults to new vineyards, governments and the global wine industry, and draws on 20-years’ experience to help UK wine production businesses establish and operate sustainably.
A third generation farmer, Richard and his family own and operate 50 hectares of vineyards, two wine brands in South Australia and a vineyard management business.
As well as this, Richard is also a Nuffield Scholarship recipient, which gave him the opportunity to travel the world in order to research a particular area of interest – in Richard’s case, the subject of regenerative agriculture as a farming system. The result was his published report ‘Is Being Sustainable Enough for Australian Wine? Regenerative agriculture can redefine what is best practice viticulture’, which takes a look at regenerative agriculture and its potential to create healthier, more sustainable vines and crops in the face of climate change.
After years of looking for exceptional terroirs in the Loire Valley, he fell in love with Anjou, the historical home of Chenin Blanc. Thus was born “Domaine Belargus” in 2018, named after a blue endemic butterfly.
Chairing the PAI Community foundation and overseeing the firm’s ESG & Sustainability Team, Ivan takes a broad and long-term view on everything he does. Naturally, he chose a biodynamic approach to farming for Belargus. By reviving some stunning hillsides that have never been exposed to chemistry, Ivan aims to stimulate wildlife and create a perfect environment for producing vibrant and living wines.
Ivan fights the mono-culture approach so commonly seen in vineyards and considers the vineyard as a complex agri-ecosystem where human presence shall compose with fauna and flora in a symbiotic way. The core of his Domaine is located in a Natural Reserve where the vines are part of a rich and diverse environments, including countless types of flowers and trees and over 2,200 species on record.
Martin has worked in the wine trade since 1984 when he graduated from Durham University with a degree in zoology. He started out in sales before becoming a buyer, first in two wholesale companies before joining the buying department of J Sainsbury in the exciting years of the early 1990’s. Since then he has been the UK or European market manager for producers both large and small, including Hugh Ryman, Simeon Wines and Lion Nathan in Australia and for the last 14 years Champagne Joseph Perrier. Over that period the enjoyment of explaining the complexities of champagne to visitors has fired a latent enthusiasm for education. He became a Master of Wine in 1993.
At home he relaxes by looking after a 10Ha slice of pasture and woodland in Gloucestershire where it turns out that for the last 20 years he has been following what now looks very much like a regenerative approach!
After nearly 20 years in London, Cameron decided to move to the south of France for a significant lifestyle change. Working from Provence as a freelance financial and management consultant, he applies his aptitude for corporate management and administration to a variety of enterprises. Cameron’s driving ambition is to ensure that all work he undertakes helps to leave the planet a better place for subsequent generations.
Bea has eight years’ experience in the not for profit sector working in management roles in fundraising and communications for large youth and international development NGOs such as The Prince’s Trust and Save the Children. Bea’s expertise is primarily in corporate fundraising and business development, having headed up an £8m a year global partnership with GlaxoSmithKlein. She also has experience working as a trustee of a UK-registered charity, and doing fundraising consultancy.
Bea had a career change in 2018, and transitioned into the hospitality sector, as General Manager at a boutique hotel and restaurant near Bath UK, also completing her WSET Level 2, before joining Mirabeau as Client Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility Manager in 2019, and moving to live on Domaine Mirabeau in Provence.