Advanced Viticulture wins Wine Industry Award in vineyard management
It’s for good reason Mark Greenspan, Ph.D., CPAg, CCA, frequently is seen on panels of vineyard experts and is published in industry trade journals and publication.
With more than a quarter century of scientific, technical and field experience in wine grape irrigation, he’s considered one of the world’s go-to consultants. He earned a doctorate in agricultural engineering from University of California, Davis, and designations from the American Society of Agronomy as a certified crop advisor (CCA) and certified professional agronomist (CPAg).
Greenspan started Advanced Viticulture in 2005 and is its president and viticulturist. It’s small for a North Coast vineyard management company, farming about 180 acres for 20 clients. Yet the company has a much wider impact, consulting on hundreds more acres. The firm provides technical services for more than 30 regular clients and custom work for a number of others.
How large is your team?
MARK GREENSPAN: Our vineyard management team consists of between 14-20 people. We have a stable leadership team, while some of our labor force fluctuates. That said, we have a core group of field workers who have been with Alec Roser, our vineyard manager, for many years. In addition to the vineyard management team, our technical team consists of four specialists, including myself.
What has been major news for your company recently?
GREENSPAN: We recently became certified under California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW-Certified). All the vineyards we farm are certified under these guidelines. As someone who has helped refine some of the guidelines, I am proud to be certified under that program. As I always say, sustainable viticulture is the only true viticulture.
We also started producing compost tea for our vineyards and are selling the product to growers in Sonoma County, working with Growing Solutions, Inc. to produce Syntrophy compost extract under license from them. We’re really excited to have started this program, as we’re sure it will benefit the health and sustainability of our vineyards and our customer’s vineyards. We hope to ramp up production of the compost tea product next year for the 2017 growing season and beyond.
I recently completed my term as president of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV). It was thoroughly enjoyable to support an organization that serves as a conduit to the industry for technical and scientific information. I continue to promote the organization to growers, because I don’t believe enough of them are enjoying the benefits of ASEV. Not long ago, I received the Business Water Conservation Award from the Russian Riverkeeper organization for my vineyard irrigation work, which I am delighted to have received.
How much has your company grown in recent years?
GREENSPAN: We’ve grown tremendously. I started the company in 2005, with just myself. I started having summer interns help me during the growing season, and that was the model we had for about five years. In 2011, I was introduced to Alec (Roser)through a mutual friend. Alec had years and years of experience planting and managing vineyards. While seemingly risky, I hired him as a vineyard technician with hopes we would grow from purely technical services into vineyard management as well. Alec was my first year-round employee.
We found some early opportunities managing some small vineyards, started purchasing equipment and from there our vineyard management business began. Initially, we used farm labor contractors, so we operated very thinly as a management company.