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Aug 23, 2023

Caine Thompson named one of Wine Enthusiast's Future 40

Caine Thomp­son, Head of Sus­tain­abil­i­ty for O’Neill Vint­ners & Dis­tillers, has been rec­og­nized as one of Wine Enthu­si­ast magazine’s Future 40” for his work devel­op­ing and imple­ment­ing regen­er­a­tive wine grow­ing prac­tices that will scale for the glob­al viti­cul­ture com­mu­ni­ty. This hon­or rec­og­nizes wine and spir­its indus­try tastemak­ers and inno­va­tors who shape how we drink, bring­ing the drinks busi­ness into the future.

Over the past three years, Thomp­son has spear­head­ed O’Neill Vint­ners & Dis­tillers’ Regen­er­a­tive Farm­ing Case Study, a viti­cul­tur­al project com­par­ing sus­tain­ably cer­ti­fied farm­ing to regen­er­a­tive farm­ing. The case study has ana­lyzed the health of soil and vines, the qual­i­ty of grapes, water use, car­bon seques­tra­tion, and farm­ing costs. The study start­ed with a 40-acre com­mit­ment in Paso Rob­les, but after ini­tial suc­cess, Thomp­son and O’Neill dou­bled the acreage ded­i­cat­ed to regen­er­a­tive farm­ing practices. 

Our team at O’Neill is proud of Caine win­ning this much-deserved award,” said Jeff O’Neill, Founder & CEO of O’Neill Vint­ners & Dis­tillers. We are lead­ing in this regen­er­a­tive space by tak­ing action, using our size and the scope of this now 80-acre research project to inspire and demon­strate to the indus­try that regen­er­a­tive vine­yard farm­ing can hap­pen at scale. Caine’s work has yield­ed excel­lent and opti­mistic results that regen­er­a­tive farm­ing is a way forward.”

The O’Neill Vint­ners & Dis­tillers Regen­er­a­tive Farm­ing Case Study has shown an increase in car­bon seques­tra­tion in the regen­er­a­tive organ­ic grow­ing sys­tem com­pared to the sus­tain­ably farmed con­trol over the past three years. Thomp­son notes, Our regen­er­a­tive farm­ing results show a sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tion in car­bon in the atmos­phere around the vines and more car­bon stored in the soil. The farm­ing method also holds more water in the soil, show­ing soil mois­ture lev­els con­sid­er­ably high­er than the con­trol, which results in bet­ter irri­ga­tion effi­cien­cy using less water to grow the vine.”

Jacque­line Strum, Pres­i­dent and pub­lish­er of Wine Enthu­si­ast Media, was pleased to include Thomp­son in the 2023 Future 40. Caine’s out­stand­ing achieve­ments as an inter­na­tion­al leader in regen­er­a­tive farm­ing on vine­yards earned him this well-deserved dis­tinc­tion,” she said. 

A New Zealand native who grew up in his family’s gar­dens and orchards, Thomp­son saw his father exposed to clas­sic 1970s farm­ing tech­niques that ulti­mate­ly took a toll on his father’s health and cost him his life. The loss gave Thomp­son pur­pose — find­ing safe alter­na­tives for pest, dis­ease, and weed con­trol — while also fuel­ing his pas­sion for the earth. Thomp­son earned under­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate degrees in Hor­ti­cul­ture and Plant Sci­ence before com­plet­ing his MBA and mov­ing to the U.S. where he con­tin­ues to cen­ter his work around regen­er­a­tive farm­ing, agro­forestry, and pro­duc­ing qual­i­ty wines that are cli­mate resilient at scale. 

Thomp­son believes this form of wine­grow­ing can and will change the world, but only if it is avail­able to all, not only the elite. Every­one should be able to access and expe­ri­ence the ben­e­fits of this grow­ing style and the qual­i­ty of this fruit, know­ing that the wine they con­sume is the purest and safest expres­sion pos­si­ble,” he said.

Read the Wine Enthu­si­ast fea­ture, and full list of Future 40 recip­i­ents, here: https://​www​.wineen​thu​si​ast​.com…

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