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Wonder Soil Discovered!

(Paso Robles, CA) June 5, 201¦ 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.

                "Corn flakes-looking" particles -- smectite (montmorillonite) clay minerals, magnified over 1,000 times by a scanning electron miscope (SEM)

This newly discovered soil highlights montmorillonite character as a powerful adsorptive for heavy metals, toxins, and other hazardous chemicals. The antibacterial effects are also well established. In addition to being a plant nutrient reservoir, the soil provides a protective detoxifying environment for grape vines.


Thomas J. Rice, Ph.D., C.P.S.S. who led the Cal Poly, SLO soil mapping project conducted on Carmody McKnight Estate Vineyards & Winery examines the newly discovered “wonder soil."

Gary Conway
Thomas J. Rice, Ph.D.
805.238.9392 ext. 3

More on Wonder Soils

Carmody McKnight Vineyards have been the subject of extensive university program research with CalPolyUniversity 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 montmorillonitewhich in France is called “the wonder soil,“the 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 a backyard volcano, three of them -- rare volcanic intrusion, guaranteeing the most mineral abundant wine and the cleanest, purest varietal expression! 

Calcium Montmorillonite Clay :: A Miracle of Life

Calcium Montmorillonite is a naturally occurring mineral compound that exists beneath the earth's surface.  Pronounced "mont-more-ill-o-night," it is a uniquely versatile all natural substance that has been tried, tested and studied for over 100 years. 

There are only a limited number of Calcium Montmorillonite deposits around the world. The first site was discovered in Montmorillon, France in the 1800s, hence the name, Montmorillonite. For centuries Native American healers used it internally and externally in the treatment of a variety of illnesses. In years past sailing vessels departing from France were known to store clay on board for the treatment of dysentery as well as other ailments. Animals, domestic and wild alike, instinctually drawn to clay deposits have been observed licking the clay as part of their everyday diet, and rolling in it to obtain relief from injuries. 

A recognized detoxifying agent, nutrient and bactericidal Calcium Montmorillonite is in the smectite group of clays. Only those clays within the smectite group have the ability to absorb. Its power as a detoxifying substance comes from its inherent ability to adsorb and absorb. Its unique ability to grow and change (adsorb) is the reason for its classification and recognition as a "Living Clay."  The color of clay is determined by the mixture and ratio of elements contained within it. Hydro-thermal exposures over long periods of time affect the clay in two important aspects; it becomes negatively charged and crystallized. As a result of the crystallization process the clay is reduced into small particles that make it easy for the body to assimilate. The negative charges on the clay give it the ability to adsorb or attract positively charged toxic matter, which is then absorbed into the clay and dispelled from the body as waste. 

In addition to the role it plays as a potent detoxifier, Calcium Montmorillonite has also been used extensively in the treatment of pain, open wounds, colitis, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, stomach ulcers, intestinal problems, acne, anemia, and a variety of other health issues. 

Calcium Montmorillonite contains no less than 67 minerals. This impressive assortment of minerals includes calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and silica as well as trace elements, those appearing in very tiny amounts. The mineral content being extremely high sets the stage for replenishing dietary deficiencies. Today more than ever before, diets are lacking essential trace minerals and micronutrients. Without the basic minerals, life cannot exist; without trace minerals, major deficiencies may develop. Lack of either will make it impossible for the body to maintain good health and function properly. In clay the minerals occur in natural proportion to one another encouraging their absorption in the intestinal tract. Natural Calcium Montmorillonite restores minerals in the tissues where they are needed. Furthermore, minerals are the carriers of the electrical potential in the cells which enable the hormones, vitamins, and enzymes to function properly. 

As mentioned above "Living Clay" is known to have been used historically as an effective antibacterial in the treatment of dysentery, and as a means of decontaminating water. Presently it is being used internationally to clarify and balance small and large bodies of water. This is so because "Living Clay" particles are smaller than many bacteria; when bacteria encounter an environment abundant in clay it becomes surrounded by the clay, and imbedded in it. The immediate result is that the bacteria are unable to receive nourishment and cannot survive. 

The dominant approach in health care today is from the viewpoint that considers the notion of parts. The diagnosis of illness is often arrived at by looking for a specific disease by relying on symptoms surfacing in an apparently localized part or parts of the body. Once identified a specific medication for a specific problem is applied. Only recently has medical science begun once again, to explore the idea that health problems surface as a result of disease in the whole system, not just one or more of the parts. The immune system intimately affects each organ on a fundamental level, which spans the boundaries of all the body's vital functions. This is critical to understanding the cause of chronic and degenerative disease. The body's vital systems are dependent on each other. The presence of disease in any system impacts all systems. A lifestyle without substantial nutrition, sufficient rest, a proper balance of stress, and numerous other factors can weaken the immune system. Malfunction of the immune system leads to infectious disease. It is unrealistic to treat parts, and expect a whole result. 

Because of its inherent healing properties, clay has long been recognized as a subject worthy of study. It is included as such, in many educational institutions today, which teach pharmacology, herbology, and nutrition. Calcium Montmorillonite is currently being utilized in hospitals outside of the United States where it has already proven its effectiveness. In recent years clay has become a topic of discussion in numerous publications. Recently more information has become available outlining the important role Calcium Montmorillonite can play in the recovery and maintenance of health. It has also been receiving significant recognition by the health care community, as a proven and much overlooked natural alternative remedy in the prevention and cure of disease. 

Recent exposure has spurred the interest of people around the world, prompting them to seek out reliable high quality resources for clay. This well deserved notoriety is serving to educate the public about this natural healing agent, as a true "Miracle of Life." 

While Calcium Montmorillonite is a powerful nutrient and detoxifier it is important to recognize that it is a part of a total health care system. Healing benefits may result from internal and/or external clay applications. The clay may be ingested, applied as a poultice, and/or used in a bath. 

Calcium Montmorillonite is thought to exist in Romane-Conti, a Fench vineyard that dates back well over a thousand year, but barely a resource compared to Carmody McKnight. The wine from Romane-Conti's four acres can sell up to $14,000 a bottle.  The secret is in the soil!