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.

How to Create Stable Humus – Humic and Fulvic Acids

How to Create Stable Humus – Humic and Fulvic Acids

Posted: July 30, 2014

Their great benefit is that they are a quality food source for the microbial life in your soil. Luxury levels of humic and fulvic acid are therefore integral to supporting the abundant, vigorous community of life in the soil that you need for healthy crop growth. Both humic and fulvic acids are available as agricultural products, and can be added to the soil or used as a foliar feed.

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What Kinds of Cover Crops?

What Kinds of Cover Crops?

Posted: June 30, 2014

A legume is a plant in the family Fabaceae. Legumes are commonly farmed for their edible seeds which are consumed by people and farm animals, and also provide oils. The main legumes that we use as cover crops include bitter lupin, fava bean, vetch, clovers, medics, seredela and lucerne.

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An Extraordinary  Way to ‘Know Your Farmers’ – Avondale’s Biodynamic Luncheon

An Extraordinary Way to ‘Know Your Farmers’ – Avondale’s Biodynamic Luncheon

Posted: June 24, 2014

We launched our first Biodynamic Luncheon in April this year, and we were really delighted at how the event turned out. Avondale hosted 36 guests at our Tasting Gallery who came to meet Avondale’s Proprietor, Johnathan Grieve and Farmer Angus McIntosh to find out more about biodynamic farming and to enjoy a veritable feast prepared by the Mount Nelson’s Chef Rudi Liebenberg.

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Weeds that can Work for You

Weeds that can Work for You

Posted: June 18, 2014

Some years back, I wrote a post on how Avondale regards weeds as useful storytellers, clueing us into what is happening with our soils. In the same vein, here are some interesting insights into the weeds known as Phytolacca, commonly called Inkweed or Pokeweed. Phytolacca are perennial plants native to North and South America, East Asia and New Zealand. Like any weed appearing on South African farming soils, it has a story to tell about its environmental conditions.

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What Kinds of Cover Crops?

What Kinds of Cover Crops?

Posted: April 26, 2014

In this series of articles, I will get to discussing different species within those plant groups. However, the first 3 articles will deal with the plant groups. So let’s start here with cereals. A cereal is a grass from the monocot family Poaceae. They are commonly cultivated for the edibility of their grains, which are staple foods around the world. The main cereals that we use as cover crops include barley, oats, Saia oats, wheat and a cross between rye and wheat known as korrog or triticale.

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How to Create Stable Humus – Compost

How to Create Stable Humus – Compost

Posted: April 23, 2014

In the second article in our series on humus we highlighted the four main reasons why humus is depleted in our soils, including conventional farming’s failure to build organic matter in the soil. One of the key ways to tackle this issue is compost.

Adding compost to the soil is integral to natural farming. There are plenty of resources available on how to make compost, so I am rather going to focus here on some of the considerations we take into account at Avondale.

The aim of composting is to recycle organic waste into an incredible, stable multi-purpose soil food and microbial inoculant. Well-produced aerated compost is a great source of stable humus teeming with beneficial microbial life and enriching our soils with plant-available nutrients.

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Why has Humus Become a Depleted Resource?

Why has Humus Become a Depleted Resource?

Posted: March 26, 2014

This second article on our series on humus aims to deepen our understanding of why we currently need to take steps to create, manage and protect humus in our soils. If we are to succeed in this, we need to know what it is that depletes humus in the first place, and then change our ways.

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Graeme Sait on Humus

Graeme Sait on Humus

Posted: December 10, 2013

For the nature-friendly farmer, there can be nothing more important on the land than humus in the soil. Humus refers to the organic matter in the soil that plays the key role in sustaining the living communities in the soil, which are so essential for healthy plant growth. However, humus is not just the concern of the individual farmer. The lack of humus on agricultural land across the planet is an issue of global proportions.

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An Introduction to Humus

An Introduction to Humus

Posted: November 12, 2013

There are various forms of carbon ranging from Coal which is a substance to carbon in a system which is Carbon in process. In Biodynamics, different chemical elements are described as different ethers. For instance, nitrogen is the energy ether, hydrogen is the tone ether, and carbon is the life ether. Plants, animals, humans – we are essentially all carbon-based! Hence the reason why carbon is the Life ether and why we are focusing on Humus the ultimate form of soil carbon. It is really the link between the chemical elements and soil life!

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Nutrients and their impact on healthy plant growth – the Biochemical Sequence

Nutrients and their impact on healthy plant growth – the Biochemical Sequence

Posted: September 19, 2013

Avondale’s holistic BioLOGIC® approach ensures that we pay attention to the full spectrum of macro- and micro-nutrients involved in healthy plant nutrition. One of the best models that we have found that encompasses this full spectrum of nutrients is the Biochemical Sequence devised by Hugh Lovel, who is one of the world’s leaders in quantum agriculture and biodynamics.

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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.

Luna Tasting Calendar

  1. August 27, 2014 8:00 am
  2. August 31, 2014 8:00 am
  3. September 1, 2014 3:00 pm

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Listen To: Carrie Adams interviews Johnathan Grieve