Welcome to the blog of Johnathan Grieve. I am the proprietor of Avondale wine estate, and pioneer of the BioLOGIC® approach to sustainable viticulture. The transformation of Avondale from over-used and abused land into a thriving, robust vineyard ecosystem has been a personal learning journey of more than a decade long. This blog is where I share some of what I have learnt about promoting life on our farm and the wonderful impact this has had on our handcrafted premium quality wines.

The Chickens, the Jackal Buzzard and a Pair of Polecats

The Chickens, the Jackal Buzzard and a Pair of Polecats

Posted: November 30, 2016

One of the year’s highlights has been to bring chickens into Avondale’s Circle of Life and see them thrive. Housed in a converted 1952 Dodge truck, our brood of Rhode Island Reds, Leghorns, Koekoeks and Buff Orpingtons spend their days free ranging and foraging in the vineyards. They’re great at spreading and breaking down the cow manure as they scratch, and at controlling flies by foraging for their larvae. They’re also providing us and FABER Restaurant with fresh pasture-reared eggs.

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Liquid Tonics

Liquid Tonics

Posted: November 15, 2016

Ferments are not only used to help solve issues. There are a great variety of beneficial ferments that you can use to promote balanced life on the farm. Many of these are especially effective when you are working to transform depleted land into a fertile, natural farm. Essentially, these ferments serve as tonics. Through the fermentation process we create cultures of microbial life, which through their digestion deliver nutrients the soil needs. Different ferments can be made using plant materials or manures to increase nitrogen or phosphorus or trace elements.

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Problem Weed Ferment

Problem Weed Ferment

Posted: October 17, 2016

In this third article in our series of articles about the use of ferments and peppering in the biodynamic system of farming, I am going to share the essential information of how we make and use ferments to help to keep problem weeds in check at Avondale.

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Lucerne – Tea or Ferment

Lucerne – Tea or Ferment

Posted: September 14, 2016

Also known as Medicago sativa or alfalfa, Lucerne is a wonderful legume as it binds nitrogen and is a wonderfully rich food to help breed up protozoa, which in turn is one of the earthworms’ favourite foods. Protozoa will also keep the bacteria numbers in check.

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Ferments and Peppering

Ferments and Peppering

Posted: August 15, 2016

Peppering and Ferments are not a quick-fix. With particularly stubborn weeds the process will be repeated at regular intervals and it can take anywhere between 2 and 4 years to see results. The satisfaction comes from considering how everything fits together and from creating balance.

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A Summary of my Biodynamic Preparation posts

A Summary of my Biodynamic Preparation posts

Posted: July 15, 2016

Over the last year, I have introduced each biodynamic preparation and given an explanation of how I make them, and why and when they are used.

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Chickens rule the roost at Avondale

Chickens rule the roost at Avondale

Posted: May 26, 2016

As part of our commitment to the Circle of Life, we have recently introduced chickens to Avondale. We have a mix of Rhode Island Reds, Leghorns and Koekoeks, plus 5 Buff Orpingtons – these are all multipurpose chickens being good layers and scavengers who enjoy a wide variety in their diets so in essence great free range breeds.

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What and why Biodynamic Preparation BD508?

What and why Biodynamic Preparation BD508?

Posted: March 26, 2016

BD508 is a biodynamic preparation also known as Horsetail (Equisetum Arvense) Preparation. It is a ferment or ‘tea’ style preparation that can be applied direct to the soil, plant or atmosphere. Its purpose is to regulate the watery element brought on by too strong or too weak moon forces.

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Drought and the importance of humus creation

Drought and the importance of humus creation

Posted: February 24, 2016

South Africa is suffering from a drought and many farmers are experiencing crop failure, or decreased harvests. Never has the condition of our soil health been more important.

Ensuring that the soil is balanced and can provide all the nutrients required for healthy plant and micro life has always been a key factor in biodynamic agriculture.

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What and Why Biodynamic Preparation BD507

What and Why Biodynamic Preparation BD507

Posted: January 24, 2016

DB507 is a compost preparation made from Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis), a perennial herbaceous plant with triangular or prism-like leaves which have a very distinct vein structure. The triangular shape of the leaves indicates its relationship with light and light forces. Valerian is also associated with warmth and is linked to the planet Saturn.

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Johnathan Grieve

As family man… Avondale is a family farm where we appreciate that the health and balance of our living system is inextricably linked to well-being of our families. As a father of two and a husband, as son and brother, my inspiration to achieve a robust, balanced vineyard ecosystem is to ensure that Avondale will support the lives of our future generations.

As artist… A passion for jazz and a love for all forms of art, especially woodwork and sculpture led me into four years of fine art studies – an eclectic education for a budding a farmer, for sure! However, I have found that in so many ways, the patterns, interconnections and openness of the artistic worldview have influenced my understanding of how living systems work.

As farmer… My interest in farming started early when I was a boy growing up on a small-holding outside of Durbanville. I planted and tended my own vegetables which I sold to family and friends. I hardly imagined at that time though that I would one day become a farmer. However, the theme of a healthy balanced life was embedded in our family’s outlook.

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Listen To: Classic Wine with Johnathan Grieve