Being asked to co-lead one of the vineyard seminar on Soil Microbiology for Oregon Pinot Camp has given me the opportunity to learn a lot more about the amazing relationships between plants and the bacteria, fungi, and other life below the surface of our vineyard floor.  Microbes break down the plants in our cover crops releasing nitrogen in a useable form for our vines.  At the same time, the vines produce exudates to defend themselves against harmful organisms and to attract and retain others that are beneficial to them. In healthy soils, this symbiotic relationship flourishes.  But what happens to the soil when we give a plant the nutrients it needs?  That relationship is broken and the vine becomes dependent on our continued intervention for its health.  That’s why more and more vineyard managers are focused on building healthy soils and minimizing or eliminating external nutrient additions.  This year at Winderlea, we have discontinued nutrient additions so as to strengthen the bond between our vines and the living organisms in our soil.  We’re a bit nervous waiting to see how they respond but we’re also very optimistic and positive about this step.  More later.- Bill Sweat, Proprietor