According to the world's renowned earth scientists and viticulturalists

 the most significant studies ever conducted on a vineyard or any agricultural property.

The stuff of legends.
 
More than forty years ago, Gary and Marian Conway purchased a 19th Century homesteaded ranch west of Paso Robles and six miles from the seacoast art colony of Cambria, within the headlands of stunning Big Sur country.
 
Gary first beheld the idyllic beauty of this mountain valley aboard a helicopter moments before it crashed. Emerging from the wreckage, Gary dusted himself off and promptly announced to the still stunned real estate broker, "I'm going to buy this place!"  

 
This is the stuff of legends.
 
 
 
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Indeed, in the ensuing years… this pristine land, now known to  lie prominently in the Premium Wine Growing Area of the United States if not the world, has evolved into a legendary vineyard.  Legendary is an understatement as the land was tectonically formed 26-million years ago by three volcanoes emerging in lava fire from out of an inland sea. 
 
From this ultimate power we now find super soils and wonder soils seen nowhere else on the planet.  The volcano trio, amazingly, exists within the 160-acre property lines, and the natural grapes actually grow in the magma!  Shades of Shangri-La!
 
And now, Carmody McKnight Estate Vineyards dominates the future of wine as it epitomizes the “Natural Wine” movement with estate wines that cannot be duplicated on any viticultural or oenological level ~ unmanipulated winemaking created from one of the few vineyards in the world that possesses natural, own-rooted grape vines that are not genetically mutated grafted hybrids. 

Carmody McKnight remained steadfast over the decades, never adding one single chemical to its estate wines... and no artificial flavor and color.  None!  We are almost alone in that essential responsibility.  We believe in nature's food.  Not food and wine derived from chemistry labs, often putting our health at risk and certainly compromising our enjoyment of real food and wine.
 
 
 
Correlating Soil Nutrients to Flavors

We all know quite well that a wild blueberry picked in the woods of Maine, or a tomato grown in a backyard with nurtured soils, or that ripe plum plucked from your tree in wild soils taste not much like the fruits and vegetables we now buy in our super markets.  The gene-splicing in these frankenfoods are a serious problem, but the major issue is that they are grown on shockingly mineral-depleted soils.  That fact and that alone is why there are no flavors present in these frankenfoods. 
 
Natural flavors derive from minerals and nutrients.  It is a simple fact and nature's way.  Health derives from minerals.  All major experts on this subject agree that most of the diseases in this country, like diabetes which is now at epidemic proportions, and obesity (a mineral-starved condition), find their root cause in the mineral depleted soils that dominate our corporate farmlands.

And so it is with wine.  Almost all of the wine made in this country acquires flavor structure from oak barrels or chips and winemaking manipulation with chemical additives that can be carcinogenic and need not to be listed on labels.  But with the new intense concerns about artificial flavor and color and natural flavors, what is actually known about soils and minerals and the relationship to flavor in wine and to our health is becoming front and center for the public. 
 
These questions were in part the scientific queries that prompted the most significant long-term research efforts ever undertaken regarding the impact of soil types, nutrients, and properties in respect to wine quality and flavor perceptions.  This research found its ideal location with Carmody McKnight Vineyards.  The understanding of this critical soil-flavor-terroir-wine quality relationship has long been pursued, especially in Europe.  In fact, for centuries; but because of newly developing technologies, this was now the time and Carmody McKnight was now the place.
















The Most Important Vineyard Research Ever Undertaken
 
All of the major soil constituents (such as limestone, calcium montmorillonite, volcanic intrusion, even a super wonder soil recently discovered at Carmody McKnight found nowhere else on earth) known to profoundly support superior wine quality exist in the vineyards of Carmody McKnight and probably nowhere else.  This unique combination of soils coupled with ideal microclimates make the vineyard a one-of-a-kind laboratory on a course to vastly affect quality winemaking as we know it ~ around the world.  For the first time the quality perception of wine ~ which has always been illusive and subject to varying personal interpretations was to be scientifically investigated with a constancy of parameters and vineyard and winemaking controls that heretofore were not available. 
 
This seminal study which correlates soil nutrients to flavors would not only confirm but analyze the process of minerals to taste perception ~ the ultimate challenge of terroir. The Project Title: Assessing the Relationship of Wine Quality to Soil Type: A joint project between Cal Poly Earth and Soil Sciences & Food Chemistry, Food Science, Nutrition, & Statistical Departments, John Deere Global Ag. Services, State of California, Earth Information Technologies Inc., Motorola, and Carmody McKnight.


Greg Cropper, vineyardist and winemaker at Carmody McKnight managed the varietal selections and winemaking processes.  The project is directed by Thomas J. Rice, Ph.D., C.P.S.S., Professor of Earth & Soil Sciences, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), Earth and Soil Sciences Department; Joseph Montecalvo, Ph.D., Professor of Food Chemistry, Food Science and Nutrition Department Cal Poly, and the Department of Statistical Research, Cal Poly. 

The studies are a joint effort between the State of California, the above departments of Cal Poly, John Deere Global Ag. Services (with Mark Stelford, Ph.D.), Earth Information Technologies Inc. (EarthIT; Dan Rooney, EarthIT President) and Motorola, providing atmospheric and soil monitoring stations.

The Implications For Our Health
 
These studies with their world reach have profound implications for not only perceiving flavor and quality in what we eat and drink,  especially wine, but also for our very health.  Nothing is more misunderstood than the issue of nutrients relating to our well-being.  There are endless diet discussions and diet programs and regimens that sort out varying food that might achieve a certain end such as weight loss and control.  But it is beside the point in what the body demands to operate at the highest level of health, energy, and resistance to disease.  That is mainly the result of nutrient intake, and the focus must be on the soils from which any food originates.  What we eat is only as good for us as the nutrient wealth of the soils from which all our food derives.   What is the nutrient quality and availability in the soil?  That must be the constant question and focus, and we must see the proof in superior soil testing and evaluation.  Unless we can examine "the blood test" of the soil we really know nothing.  These significant studies made this a thesis and nothing is more important for our health and the quality of our life.

These studies with their world reach have profound implications for not only perceiving flavor and quality in what we eat and drink,  especially wine, but also for our very health.  Nothing is more misunderstood than the issue of nutrients relating to our well-being.  There are endless diet discussions and diet programs and regimens that sort out varying food that might achieve a certain end such as weight loss and control.  But it is beside the point in what the body demands to operate at the highest level of health, energy, and resistance to disease.  That is mainly the result of nutrient intake, and the focus must be on the soils from which any food originates.  What we eat is only as good for us as the nutrient wealth of the soils from which all our food derives.   What is the nutrient quality and availability in the soil?  That must be the constant question and focus, and we must see the proof in superior soil testing and evaluation.  Unless we can examine "the blood test" of the soil we really know nothing.  These significant studies made this a thesis and nothing is more important for our health and the quality of our life.  

























Professor Thomas J. Rice prepared the following project synopsis ~ project title: "Assessing Wine Quality Relationships to Soil Types"

1.  Produce detailed soil map for Blocks 3-4-5 of Carmody McKnight vineyards.  (Use existing EarthIT information from June 2003 to revise previous soils maps conducted by the Cal Poly and the USDA).

2. Obtain soil physical and geochemical properties (to four feet) for the major soils in these blocks.  Describe each soil according to USDA standards, sample each morphologic soil horizon, and obtain geochemical data for all morphologic soil horizons.

3. Based on the soils maps and soils data, partition zones within the wine grape varieties  (Cabernet Franc-Bl. 3,  Merlot-Bl. 4, Cabernet Sauvignon-Bl. 5).  A wine grape plot sampling will be designed to sample grapes from the same variety on significantly different soils, all other factors being equal.

4.  Assess the wine grape quality parameters (inorganic and organic components).

5.  Statistically compare the "inorganic" wine grape parameters with the inorganic soil geochemical properties.  Statistically compare the "organic" wine grape parameters among the different soil types.  Dr. Montecalvo will conduct the wine property analyses to begin to determine the differences between the wines harvested on varying soil types, all other factors being equal (grape variety, climate, vineyard management, etc.).  A sampling regime will be conducted to capture changes/differences in the chemistry/flavor profiles.  The group will measure the most important "grape must" and "wine" organic and inorganic properties in order to distinguish differences among similar genetic wine grape varieties grown on differing soil types.

The result: Terroir has become a science!
 
Carmody McKnight Exists in the Premium Wine Growing Area of the United States

Brent Hallock, an esteemed professor from Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, recently addressed a Paso Robles audience of 300 winemakers, viticulturalists, and oenological enthusiasts on the most important subject in viticulture today.  Professor Hallock explained that with the reevaluation of grape-growing regions in light of global warming, the consensus of earth and climate scientists, including the National Academy of Science, is that the immediate area of the Carmody McKnight vineyards in the Westside of Paso Robles is the only Premium Wine Growing region in California. The professor might as well have added -- and all of the United States and Europe.


Calcium Montmorillonite "Wonder Soil"
 
Carmody McKnight Vineyards have been the subject of extensive university program research with Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo due to the rarity of the soils derived from calcareous shale, limestone and igneous (volcanic) rocks as well as calcium montmorillonite ~ "the wonder soil."  As this confluence of soil constituents are found nowhere else, the Carmody McKnight vineyards are particularly suitable for these innovative technological investigations and agricultural applications. For the first time, the centuries-long quest to understand “terroir” is at hand!  The vineyards are the supreme example of sustainability in farming. 
 
In the book Terroir by James E. Wilson, the author describes the legendary soils of France. He describes calcium montmorillonite which in France is called “the wonder soil,” “swelling clays.”  Wilson states that calcium montmorillonite is “characterized by its incredible cation-exchange capacity (cations are atoms or molecules with a positive electrical charge and the ability to hold a large amount of plant essential nutrients).  This quality is as vital to the life functioning of the vineplant as oxygen is to the human bloodstream.  It is how plants get their nutrients and neutralize toxic chemicals.”  
 
Calcium montmorillonite has the unique property of extraordinary moisture retention ~ qualities contributing to supreme balance. Limestone and calcium montmorillonite are the two most important soil constituents in the renowned French vineyards ~ known to contribute to wine greatness, and without them — wine inferiority.  Do they exist in California?  Almost nowhere.  Not in Napa, nor Sonoma.   Not in Santa Barbara.  Limestone and calcium montmorillonite exist in the Carmody McKnight vineyards — in abundance! 
 
It also has to be noted that in the Carmody McKnight vineyards there is a third component ~ backyard volcanoes, volcanic intrusion, magma, guaranteeing the most mineral abundant wine and the cleanest, purest varietal expression!  
 




 

















                                                                                              Professor Thomas J. Rice extracting samples of the
                                                                                              newly discovered Super Calcium Montmorillonite

Wonder soils seen nowhere else on the planet. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
11240 Chimney Rock Road - Paso Robles - CA 93446
805.238.9392 ext. 3
“Wonder Soil” Discovered!
 
(Paso Robles, CA) ~ June 5, 2011… The  Discovery of a “Wonder Soil” incomparable for Growing Premium Wine Grapes.  In the latest university studies centered on Carmody McKnight Estate Vineyards & Winery (a series of seminal research projects which Cal Poly State University, SLO, in conjunction with other institutions including John Deere & Co. and the SoilTopo, LLC, launched 17 years ago) a stunning discovery has occurred ~ the discovery of a new “wonder soil” found nowhere else on the planet. Over 25,000 USDA soil series reviews were conducted and not one single match was found. The soil is yet to be named, but it is indeed wondrous with attributes unparalleled for the highest quality wine grape growing. The discovery happened on long-studied, leading-edge vineyards located in the Paso Robles Appellation. The pioneering proprietors are Gary Conway, Marian McKnight, and Kathleen Conway.

This “wonder soil” classifies into the “smectite” mineralogy class by the USDA soil taxonomy. The predominate clay particles are calcium montmorillonite. It is rare to find any similar soil, which is this shallow in relation to the weathered igneous (volcanic) bedrock. This revelation occurred during the most recent Cal Poly, SLO soil mapping project, conducted on Carmody McKnight Estate Vineyards & Winery and led by Thomas J. Rice, Ph.D., C.P.S.S. It ultimately required comparing this unique soil with over 25,000 USDA soil series worldwide and no comparable soil was found!


This “wonder soil” for wine grapes possesses an extraordinary balance of macronutrient (Ca, Mg, P, S, N and K) and micronutrient (Fe, Mn, Cu, etc.) contents. Significantly, the soil is notable for its extremely high cation exchange capacity (CEC), virtually a sponge for nutrients and water. The very high CEC results from the favorably elevated organic matter and smectite levels in this soil. The CEC complex in the soil retains a wide array of cationic nutrients (Ca, Mg, K, etc.), which support healthy, nutrient-rich grapes producing the most flavorfully profound and complex wines, naturally derived.
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All of the wines deriving from the Carmody McKnight Vineyards have earned verification for non-GMO, no added chemicals or flavor by way of the most scientifically stringent validation process. 
 
It is being learned to what extent chemicals, many toxic, are routinely added to wine and that the public is almost completey unaware.  The consumer has the right to know as this chemical manipulation and dependence, besides affecting the enyoyment and understanding of wine, may also be having a serious  impact on health.  
 
Click on the  graphic to the left to learn more.
 

 

What in the world is going on with Carmody McKnight?!

In China Carmody McKnight was received with unprecedented acclaim.  See the University Speech and the Press Conference Video:

Beijing Press
Conference
Conways Beijing University Speech
g a l l e r y  o f  g r e a t n e s s
 
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the beauty of the vine land