Alive! 2021


6 min read

The virtual festival of ideas for the world of wine, inspired by nature.

All talks were recorded during RAW WINE Alive!, which took place online on 5 - 6 December 2021. They are now available to watch for free. Scroll down for more information on the festival itself as well as links to the various Stages were you will find synopses and links to each talk.

Did you know...

...that the secret to nature's 3.8 billion years of R&D is that life creates conditions conducive to life? Or that mushrooms are the secret to resilient plants? Did you know that soil-plant communication and the transfer of information (aka terroir) is only possible thanks to bugs? Or even that vines are likely sentient and conscious? Welcome to RAW WINE Alive!

Plants. Microbiome. Taste. A new perspective.

Alive! was a two-day series of thought-provoking talks and online tastings exploring the remarkable, interconnected natural world and its impact on the living in wine - now available to watch on demand. As our founder Isabelle Legeron MW says, "natural wine is the celebration of life from vineyard to glass". Alive! was all about exploring what this means, literally.

Learn, Explore, Be Inspired

Speakers are experts in their fields, including viticulturists, environmentalists, science journalists, microbiologists, plant neurobiologists, and even a philosopher - famed for his work on the ‘un-nerving of intelligence’ - working on issues at the intersection of plant biology and cognitive science. Alive! is avant-garde, innovative, even a little mind-blowing, and is sure to get you seeing wine, and particularly the plants and their environments that produce it, in a whole new light. Enjoy!

Our Stages

The talks are spread across various stages to help you navigate your way through the different topics. Scroll down to explore each stage and find out more.

  • BIG IDEAS - This is the realm of breath-taking thoughts, being talked about by those who work at the forefront of what they do. They are originators, researchers and story-tellers, and they're all worth listening to.
  • STORIES FROM THE FIELD - This is where you get to hear from those who put the big ideas into practice on a daily basis. Join growers & makers from the RAW WINE community, as well as a collection of other viticulture experts, and find out just what it means to work in such a way that you promote life from grape to glass. Featuring contributions from AUSTRIA, CHILE & SOUTH AFRICA.
  • WE DIG WINE - These bite-size conversations between personalities from the wine & food world & the growers/makers of their favourite tipple, are the perfect way to get down & dirty with a specific wine and the natural world from whence it came. Tip - check out what wines they’re discussing and get yourself a bottle to join in!

Check out some of our brilliant speakers

See below for a round-up of key speakers, or click on each stage & explore in more detail.

Sunday Line-up

  • Tony Juniper CBE - Stage: Big Ideas - Tony is one of the UK’s foremost environmentalists. He chairs Natural England and used to head up Friends of the Earth. In this talk he explains why and how money really does grow on trees;
  • Prof. Paco Calvo - Stage: Big Ideas - Director of the Minimal Intelligence Lab at the University of Murcia, Paco discusses his jaw-dropping work on plant cognition and intelligence;
  • Prof. Liz Van Volkenburgh - Stage: Big Ideas - (from the Plant Growth Lab at the University of Washington) will be talking plant physiology, why she thinks plants are so amazing and sharing some of her extraordinary work on Plant Signalling & Behaviour (aka Plant Neurobiology);
  • Alessandra Viola - Stage: Big Ideas - (science journalist and co-author of Stefano Mancuso’s Brilliant Green) will be talking about the history of plant sciences - how & why we see them as we do - as well as her brand new, eye-opening book on the Rights of Plants;
  • Prof. David R. Montgomery (geomorphologist & author) and Anne Biklé (biologist, avid gardener & author) - Stage: Big Ideas - Talk us through their research into soils, which gave birth to their fascinating trilogy of books Dirt - The Erosion of Civilisations, The Hidden Half of Nature and Growing a Revolution that have been described as “stunningly clever”, “compelling” and stories that “we cannot afford to ignore” by the likes of the Financial Times, New Scientist and Nature.
  • Check out the contributions from growers & makers, including Louis-Antoine Luyt, Macarena del Río of Macatho, Leo Erazo of A los Viñateros Bravos, Stephanie & Eduard Tscheppe-Eselböck of Gut Oggau, Ewald Tscheppe of Weingut Werlitsch, Franz Strohmeier of Strohmeier, Sepp Muster of Muster & Maria Koppitsch of Alex & Maria Koppitsch.

Monday Line-up

  • Merlin Sheldrake - Stage: Big Ideas - (mycologist & author) will be talking all things mushroom - sharing stories and findings from his recently published book Entangled Life to explain the fundamental role that fungi play in our lives as well as the lives of plants;
  • Prof. Suzanne Simard - Stage: Big Ideas - (forest ecologist & author of the recently published Finding the Mother Tree, whose academic research inspired James Cameron’s creation of the Tree of Souls in Avatar) will be sharing stories from her lifetime spent among trees as well as results of her revolutionary research that has upended what we know about forests and the underground networks of plants;
  • Nicolas Joly - Stage: Big Ideas - (wine grower from the Loire, world-famous biodynamics practitioner, founder of La Renaissance des Appellations & author) will be explaining how biodynamics can help build plant resilience in the face of climate change;
  • Julie McIntyre - Stage: Big Ideas - (medical herbalist & author) will be talking us through 'phytoirrationalism', or how to become sensitive to the communication of plants in much the same way as indigenous peoples do. The talk will include a practical session to help us experience a little of her world;
  • VinNatur - Stage: Big Ideas - (grower association) & their agronomic research partner Vitenova, will be sharing results and conclusions to their 10-year vineyard research project monitoring insect populations, flora, fauna & soil biodiversity, as well as practical examples of why organics simply isn't enough;
  • Hiroki Fukuoka - Stage: Big Ideas - (farmer & grandson of the luminary Masanobu Fukuoka, author of the seminal The One-Straw Revolution) will be talking about their ground-breaking farm, sharing memories of his grandfather and expounding on the Fukuoka no-farming farming philosophy;
  • Claude & Lydia Bourguignon - Stage: Stories from the field - Chile - (soil microbiologists) will talk us though why soil life is critical to terroir, using their work in Chile as a case study.
  • Pedro Parra - Stage: Stories from the field - Chile - (terroir consultant) on why "rocks matter most";
  • Rosa Kruger - Stage: Stories from the field - South Africa - (viticulturist & old vine conservationist) on what makes old vines just so special;
  • Check out the contributions from growers & makers, including Luca Hodgkinson of Wildmakers, Alessio Zenato of Hacienda San Juan, Jose Miguel Sotomayor of Wildmakers, Luiz Antonio de Gracia Allegretti of Clos Santa Ana, Craig Hawkins of Testalonga, Werner Michlits of Meinklang, Claus Preisinger & Martin Lichtenberger & Adriana González of Lichtenberger González.

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