More and more we want to turn to nature as an ally, maximizing Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This means using cover crops that attract beneficial insects that eat the nasty bugs we don’t want in the vineyard, or even releasing vineyard-friendly insects like ladybugs. This also includes putting up bluebird and owl boxes and raptor perches, to help with bugs, rodents, and scare away unwelcome birds that eat the grapes, like starlings.
We also have to recognize that “weeds” are a human construct. Sometimes we are battling weeds for purely aesthetic reasons. In the farm setting, we need to return to seeing some “wild” as beautiful.
Here are some examples of other ways sustainable winegrape growers are limiting or eliminating the use of synthetic pesticides:
*Pesticides is a term that encompasses insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides and herbicides (used to combat weeds that can compete with vines for water and nutrients).
In 1888, Anthony Truchard II’s great, great grandfather moved from Lyon, France to the outskirts of Houston, Texas to start a winery. Though his efforts were ultimately stymied by Prohibition, a vision had already begun to take shape for future generations of his family.
Biochar is a form of charcoal that is being tested as a soil amendment in several vineyards throughout Napa County as growers look to improve soil health, increase carbon capture and reduce nutrient inputs. Among those exploring the use of biochar are Cakebread Cellars, Spring Mountain Vineyard and the Napa Resource Conservation District (RCD), which manages an experimental vineyard in Carneros.
April is a time of growth – when plants move from dormancy to bloom and the Napa Valley’s landscapes are lush and green, with the rivers and streams full from early spring rains. During April, we also celebrate Down to Earth month, making it a great time to think about soil health and how to manage property using “Carbon Farming.