750Daily: Farming by Fukuoka

Interesting article in 750Daily today about wine growers who are playing around w/ farming grapevines by neglect:
Can ‘Do-Nothing Farming’ Produce Quality Wine? | SevenFifty Daily,
or Fukuoka as developed in Japan in the '70’s.
One thing new is that some of these growers want to also make wine by Fukuoka. I’m not sure exactly what that
means, though. Seems like a dead-end to me. Like “natural” winemaking, it probably means whatever you want it to mean.
The article suggests that this is cutting edge viticulture and that success is by no means assured. This is nonsense. EmilioCastelli
has been farming by Fukuoka in his GreenVlly Nebbiolo vnyd ever since it was established yrs ago. Whether it’s a “success” or not
(I would assume it is) begs the question. But the quality of his Nebbiolo, one of the best in all Calif, cannot be disputed.

1 Like

Haven’t heard about this method! I’m also confused by Fukuoka winemaking but would guess like you, a “natural wine” process. I’m interested to try this Oregon Chardonnay but once he can make a full wine with just his grapes

I do know that Hank Beckmeyer of La Clarine Farm has said he was very much influenced by this school of thought

An interesting article but there was no mention of how good the resulting wines have been. Philosophical approach or otherwise, the goal still should be to make wine that is good? Glad to hear some examples that have turned out well.

Yes, Hank and Emilio are the only growers I’m aware of who have been strongly influenced by Fukuoka in their farming. Gideon Beinstock and others in his circle have been influenced by Fukuoka but combine his philosophies with other growing methods for their farming.

1 Like

I know Tai-Ran, he’s a very intelligent guy. I won’t speak to California as I don’t know farming requirements there. But in Oregon I have seen powdery mildew take a vineyard down in a hurry, and am looking forward to asking him how he plans to avoid it each year.

Also, Oregon soils are Boron deficient. Boron being necessary for healthy flowering and set(among other things), I am wondering how not ever spraying or making an intervention will actually work in regards to Boron deficiency.

No offense to Tai-Ran, but too many of these types of stories read incredibly well but lack common sense. I’m not speaking to people who include influences of Fukuoka, but the idea of never spraying or making an intervention. A lot of what we do leans directly into some of his philosophy. I am 100% for a holistic approach. We’re no till, and minimalist in many ways. The vines at Whistling Ridge are probably among the most “wild” in the Valley. Jim Anderson can chime in and verify that. But perhaps this is an article that should be written in 10 years after it has a significant viticultural track record in Oregon.

5 acres, of 80, in an isolated vineyard is perhaps best the possible chance to have this work. Tai-Ran speculates that this might not work. But if he succeeds, he’ll soon have neighbors, and if everyone opts for a similar set of choices, it’s only a matter of time before there are serious issues. I understand why some parents don’t want to vaccinate their kids for diptheria, rubella, polio, measles, etc. and in a vaccinated environment that can work. But it requires being isolated from disease vectors. The more success a wine grower has the higher the likelihood that they will gain grape growing neighbors and by default more grapevine disease vectors.

I know an organic vineyard that missed a spray cycle in 2016. Tractor failure first week, then their sprayer. In that brief period mildew pressure was up, and the vineyard was hammered, along with both of the larger neighboring vineyards.

If this sounds like a heated response to a minor fun topic, the loss for the smaller responsible vineyard was severe both economically and to their reputation. For the larger vineyard neighbors, the financial loss was very significant. And residual issues from a much larger count for dormant spores mean farming has to be perfect for years after a mildew outbreak.

Articles like this promoting an idea, that almost no one beyond Fukuoka has had commercial success with, before there’s a track record, seem highly irresponsible to me. The expense and effort of developing a vineyard is massive and, from phylloxera to powdery mildew, none of the devasting pests honor a property line.

I continue to believe that the “lutte raisonee” ideal, is my preferred guidance. Be a good steward to the land, use your brain, farm organically, try to find as natural a harmony with the surroundings as possible, and respect your neighbors.


This seems like an overreaction to what became of commercial/industrial farming when chemical treatments really took off. I guess that’s the way things go when so-called philosophers decide how to do viticulture.

If I remember correctly, Eric Texier mentioned a while back that he couldn’t justify selling any wine from the small parcel that he farms this way because the yields are so low.

He does make a wine form that parcel (Vignenvie VDF Blanc “Calico”) but there is very little. I’ve only had it at his house.

Interesting, thanks.

I have a copy of Masanobu Fukuoka’s book The One Straw Revolution in my bookcase.
Not too surprised his techniques are being applied to viticulture by some folks.

Signed up for Castelli. These wines look super interesting.