Vineyards – D Sharma http://dsharma.org/ Mon, 09 May 2022 16:17:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://dsharma.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/icon-6-120x120.png Vineyards – D Sharma http://dsharma.org/ 32 32 Freezing temperatures in April chilled the region’s vineyards https://dsharma.org/freezing-temperatures-in-april-chilled-the-regions-vineyards/ Mon, 09 May 2022 16:17:55 +0000 https://dsharma.org/freezing-temperatures-in-april-chilled-the-regions-vineyards/ Growing grapes to make wine at home can be surprisingly easy, but it can take a few seasons to learn the intricacies of cultivation. Fortunately, the Tri-Cities has no shortage of wine experts to help answer questions. After an unusual cold snap late in the season, it’s a good idea to check your garden vineyard […]]]>

Growing grapes to make wine at home can be surprisingly easy, but it can take a few seasons to learn the intricacies of cultivation.

Fortunately, the Tri-Cities has no shortage of wine experts to help answer questions.

After an unusual cold snap late in the season, it’s a good idea to check your garden vineyard for damage in order to plan your growing season.

Marcus Keller, professor of viticulture at Washington State University, told the Herald that certain grape varieties are more likely to have been affected by the cool April temperatures.

Harvest file 1.jpg
Workers harvest Sauvignon Blanc grapes at Klipsun Vineyards in the Red Mountain wine region near Benton City. Tri-City Herald File

“It depends on where you’re talking about, and it also depends on the variety,” Keller said. “We have varieties like Concord grapes that were already budding. Depending on which cultivator you talk to, you have between 0 and 90% damage. The (vines) that trailed a little behind completely escaped it.

Keller said it’s easy to tell if your vines have suffered frost damage and it may not be as bad as you think.

“Once that sprout turns brown, it means it’s been damaged, it’s dead. After that, the vines actually have (secondary) clusters that will grow, but they’re usually less fruitful,” Keller said.

“Very soon they will be able to see leaves coming out and little clusters of flowers being born, and they will be able to tell very quickly if there has been frost damage,” he said.

On average, it only takes about 10 bunches to make a bottle of wine. In a good year, four or five vines can produce enough grapes for an entire crate.

Merlot grapes on vine file.jpg
Merlot grapes shown on the vine late in the growing season at Klipsun Vineyard on Red Mountain. This year’s late cold spell could harm some varieties. Tri-City Herald File

According to decanter.com, a variety of factors impact yield, including soil, location, and variety.

Keller said Chardonnay grapes are the wine variety most susceptible to damage in the Tri-Cities region, but the most popular variety is budding later.

“There are low areas with varieties like Chardonnay starting to come out. So those will have damage, we don’t know how much yet,” he said. “Then we have our biggest varieties, in Washington, is Cabernet Sauvignon, which is mostly still dormant, so they would have completely escaped that.”

Keller said the impact of the freeze won’t be seen by consumers anytime soon. He said it would probably take a year or more before a reduction in Chardonnay production was noticed.

Juice businesses will be most immediately impacted by weather damage.

Anticipate the weather

Keller said a late cold snap isn’t that unusual for the region and it’s possible the region will see more nights that are cold enough to damage buds.

Dormant Vineyard file.jpg
Red Mountain vineyards near Benton City and throughout Washington wine country are beginning to emerge from winter. Tri-City Herald File

Operating wineries in Washington requires a lot of planning for the unexpected. For many wineries, that means having wind turbines ready.

“If you drive through Yakima Valley, you’ll see all these white towers, and near Red Mountain toward the highway,” Keller said. “These are wind turbines, and what they do is generate air movement.”

Wind turbines look a lot like smaller versions of energy turbines. They are designed to circulate air through the vines, moving cold air away from the ground and away from the vines, while pushing warm air down.

Once the weather gets warmer, growers will need to prepare for the summer heat.

Keller said many crops may have been damaged by a heat wave last summer.

While it’s still too early to predict how this growing season will unfold, Keller is optimistic it will be another great year for vineyards in the Tri-City area.

This story was originally published May 9, 2022 5:00 a.m.

Related stories from the Tri-City Herald

Cory is an award-winning investigative journalist. He joined the Tri-City Herald in December 2021 as an editor/reporter covering housing and development. His past work can be found in the Tyler Morning Telegraph and other Texas newspapers. He was a member of the Education Writers Association 2019-2020 and has been featured on The Murder Tapes, Grave Mysteries and Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen.

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Freezing nights could impact wine production at vineyards https://dsharma.org/freezing-nights-could-impact-wine-production-at-vineyards/ Thu, 28 Apr 2022 21:54:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/freezing-nights-could-impact-wine-production-at-vineyards/ GENEVA, Ohio – Northeast Ohio is known for many things, including wine and chill, but sometimes the two just don’t mix. At Ferrante’s in Geneva, as they prepare for their busiest time of the year, Nicholas Ferrante goes out every day to check on his crops. When it comes to harvesting and making wine, all […]]]>

GENEVA, Ohio – Northeast Ohio is known for many things, including wine and chill, but sometimes the two just don’t mix.

At Ferrante’s in Geneva, as they prepare for their busiest time of the year, Nicholas Ferrante goes out every day to check on his crops.

When it comes to harvesting and making wine, all seasons play an important role.

During the fall, the vine goes dormant, begins to prune in winter and then comes spring when the vine has started to grow.

The only problem is that with longer winters and continuous freezing nights, instead of growing, some of those buds might freeze.

“When we have a night like last night where it was 26 or 27 degrees, it damages those buds and it could lead to the loss of the tonnage of grapes that are going to be produced,” Ferrante said.

If these buds freeze, it could also affect the bottles on the shelf.

“Less wine produced means we have less product to sell. So it trickles down from the grapes through the wine to the sales. So it’s just a loss along the way,” Ferrante said.

Ferrante says they have machines in place to help on those cold nights, but below certain temperatures that machine isn’t as effective. So for Ferrante he will only have to wait a few days until he knows how his harvest has gone.

“We could take like a razor knife, and we could cut into it, if they’re green inside, that means they’re alive. If they’re brown inside or black, they didn’t survive,” Ferrante said.

Ferrante says that even if their harvests suffer, they have relationships with other wineries in different states that they could work with to continue producing their wine.

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Champagne Nukes own vineyards https://dsharma.org/champagne-nukes-own-vineyards/ Wed, 27 Apr 2022 20:01:08 +0000 https://dsharma.org/champagne-nukes-own-vineyards/ A flip-flop on herbicide spraying reveals Champagne’s true attitude towards sustainability. © Caroline Henry/Wine-Searcher | The vineyards near Hautvilliers were blasted with herbicides. The decline of Champagne in relation to its own environmental principles is played out in its vineyard, which looks more and more like a nuclear wasteland. For several years, the Committeestar Champagne […]]]>

A flip-flop on herbicide spraying reveals Champagne’s true attitude towards sustainability.

© Caroline Henry/Wine-Searcher
| The vineyards near Hautvilliers were blasted with herbicides.

The decline of Champagne in relation to its own environmental principles is played out in its vineyard, which looks more and more like a nuclear wasteland.

For several years, the Committeestar Champagne (CIVC) has been vocal about its environmental efforts, taking every opportunity to brag about its reduced carbon footprint. In addition, since December 2018, the region’s commitment to a “zero herbicide” policy has been widely disseminated and printed.

In 2003, Champagne was the first wine-growing region to precisely measure its carbon footprint, and to reduce it significantly over the past two decades. The biggest gain was undoubtedly the region’s semi-enforced switch to a lighter bottle a few years ago, but since then the results seem to have slowed. In February, while speaking to the press, the two co-presidents Jean-Marie Barillère, President of the Union of Champagne Houses (UMC) until March 31, and Maxime Toubart, President of the Syndicat des Vignerons de Champagne (SGV ), changed course when addressing the future of the region and omitted the environmental commitments of 2025 (a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions and the achievement of zero herbicides) to focus instead on a new vision for 2050.

Both later confirmed that it was very unlikely that either of the 2025 targets would be met, with Toubart adding that “herbicides, when used wisely, will likely remain a tool for grape growers in many years to come”.

At the beginning of April, at the SGV’s annual general meeting (AGM), he went further by stating that the omission of herbicides would not be added as an “obligation” to the region’s regulations, better known as the Specifications. On the contrary, it remains a “voluntary and pragmatic path” for the future, in other words a path that “the enlightened winegrower” should willingly take.

One wonders what changed between December 2018 and February 2022, and the answer is simple: French legislation has not imposed the complete restrictions on herbicides recommended by its Food Safety Agency, environment and work (ANSES).

As a reminder: in November 2018, ANSES commissioned a study on the use of glyphosate with the aim of eradicating its use by 2020 in accordance with President Macron’s position on the subject. The results of the study, made public in October 2020, severely restricted its use in viticulture both in the quantity used per hectare and in the area covered, which had been reduced to only 20% of the vineyard. In September 2021, when the new legislation was adopted, only the reduction in the amount used per hectare was maintained, sending the message that the elimination of glyphosate would not be as imminent as initially expected.

It didn’t fall on deaf ears, and just as lawmakers caved to pro-glyphosate lobbies, so did Toubart, who admitted he was pressured on the zero herbicide promise by addressing to winegrowers during the SGV general meeting.

Therefore, it had immediate results. Over the past month, many of the region’s sloping vineyards have been destroyed by herbicides, turning the verdant winter landscape into something resembling a Martian desert. In Hautvillers, the UNESCO-listed wine-growing hillsides look like a deserted Syrian battlefield, with burnt orange only sporadically interspersed with a bit of greenery – mostly from the vineyards of Moët & Chandon or Taittinger , or those of a rare organic winegrower.

Jérôme Vanneyken, until recently Hautvillers’ representative at the Association Viticole Champenoise (AVC), estimates that only about 20 hectares out of the approximately 200 hectares owned by winegrowers are free of herbicides. Fortunately, almost a third of the vines in the village belong to Chapmagne houses, and it seems that their vines have remained mostly green. While most houses have tried harder to stay on the zero herbicide path, it’s important to point out that some have made the same U-turn as growers. With no official figures available, one has to go by sight, and at first glance it appears that two-thirds of the village’s vineyards have been – at least partially – sprayed with glyphosate or other herbicides.

Back to bad old habits

Hautvillers is not the only village baked by weedkillers; a quick tour around the Côte des Blancs or the Grande Vallée de la Marne shows the same disastrous landscape. Many growers said this election season would distract the powers-that-be from blatantly breaking the law: The 20% restriction may have been lifted, but dry-spray remains illegal.

Not that that’s stopping the most avid herbicide users, who have now often reapplied glyphosate. This is also illegal, as a single application with a restricted dose is officially allowed. However, with the CIVC in silent agreement and the SGV refusing to impose herbicide restrictions, it seems that Champagne has returned to its old and reliable practices and is on the verge of continuing its excessive regime of herbicides.

The Champagne authorities have reneged on their plans to phase out herbicides and the results are evident.

© Caroline Henry/Wine-Searcher
| The Champagne authorities have reneged on their plans to phase out herbicides and the results are evident.

In the absence of binding restrictions, producers have little incentive to adopt alternative soil management. One could hypothesize that the houses – or at least those that have so far refrained from using herbicides – could punish the winegrowers who use them by lowering the price of the grapes or refusing to buy the grapes. After all, there is no point in working without herbicides when most wine grapes will come from top-sprayed vineyards.

Although it may seem logical, everyone knows it’s not going to happen. These houses may have understood the importance of a “green” image, but they are as reluctant as the CIVC and the SGV to enact the law and impose a change in viticultural practice.

You only need to scratch the surface a bit to see why – everyone wants a big harvest this year. Early figures for the first quarter of 2022 show annual sales at 330 million bottles (between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022), the highest since 2007, which many interpret as a sign that the increase in sales is not are not just triggered by the Covid rebound but are the new normal. In addition, the last two harvests have been poor – 2020 for commercial reasons and 2021 due to bad weather – hence the general feeling that a large harvest is needed to prepare for future sales and restore the Individual Reserve (IR) ( partially) exhausted. ), the Champagne buffer system to meet market demand in more difficult years.

Vanneycken, who is converting to organic, told Wine-Searcher that “most growers are betting on a designation of 12,000 kg/ha, which is easier to achieve with the use of herbicides.”

This focus on how much to harvest at a time when the vine is just beginning to bud is the main reason why ecological reforms – like the eradication of herbicides – continue to falter. It also proves that the zero herbicide announcement in 2018 was nothing more than a big green-washing exercise. Several people who were on the CIVC technical committee at the time confirmed that it would have been extremely difficult to achieve zero herbicides in such a short time and suggested that the announcement had been political and commercial rather what a real commitment.

However, everyone agrees that today’s reversal of the commitment without explanation or comment will only elude the reality of a zero herbicide objective for Champagne. Wine-Searcher invites comments from Toubart, Barillère and David Chatillon, the new president of the UMC and co-president of the CIVC, in search of an explanation for the sudden reversal on the policy of zero herbicide, potential consequences for clandestine cover vineyards sprayed, and what this means for the ecological future of Champagne, remained unanswered. Or in the words of Toubart: “I have nothing to say about it”.

Nevertheless, the results of this attitude will be felt in the years to come. Besides a potential economic backlash that could (at least theoretically) lead to a commercial boycott by environmentally conscious wine professionals and health-conscious consumers, there are more immediate ecological consequences. There is no denying that the heavy use of herbicides in Champagne in 2022 will have disastrous effects on local rivers and could even render the region’s tap water undrinkable.

It also exacerbates climate problems (which the CIVC claims to want to alleviate) according to Josep Maria Ribas Portella, sustainability manager at Familia Torres and founding board member of International Wineries for Climate Action. “From a climate perspective, the wine sector should aim to become as biologically regenerative as possible. This means increasing soil health, water retention, micro-diversity and carbon sequestration. Against the use of herbicides which will kill all kinds of weeds and deplete the soil Ideally, cover crops should be maintained for as long as possible, improving carbon sequestration.

Interestingly, carbon sequestration by cover crops is also part of Barillère’s plan for Champagne to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, in line with targets set by the French government. And many great houses have indeed adopted this philosophy in their own vineyards. However, their willingness to continue buying grapes from growers who insist on growing with herbicides negates their efforts.

With 1.5 billion bottles in stock, Champagne’s biggest players can afford to make the right climate choice this year – or they can choose to look the other way and carry on as if nothing had happened.

To join the conversation, comment on our social media.

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Late spring frost threatens vineyards in Oregon and California https://dsharma.org/late-spring-frost-threatens-vineyards-in-oregon-and-california/ Wed, 27 Apr 2022 04:00:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/late-spring-frost-threatens-vineyards-in-oregon-and-california/ Grape growers and grape growers in Oregon assess the damage after a severe late frost hit the Willamette Valley in recent days. The week of April 10 saw record high temperatures – up to 26°F in some areas – just as vineyards were beginning to bud. Frost is not uncommon in Oregon, but it usually […]]]>

Grape growers and grape growers in Oregon assess the damage after a severe late frost hit the Willamette Valley in recent days. The week of April 10 saw record high temperatures – up to 26°F in some areas – just as vineyards were beginning to bud. Frost is not uncommon in Oregon, but it usually hits earlier in the season when the vines are still dormant. “We have never seen such cold temperatures so late in the season,” said winemaker Josh Bergström. wine spectator.

Winemaker Roco Rollin Soles echoed that sentiment. “I’ve never seen spring frost damage on our hillside vines before, and I’ve never seen snow in the Coast Range in mid-April,” he said.

The impact of frost varies from region to region and even from vineyard to vineyard, depending on altitude and other factors. “I understand that the vineyards of Eola-Amity Hills seem to have held up better than areas such as Chehalem Mountains and Yamhill-Carlton,” said Lavinea winemaker Isabelle Meunier.

The extent of the damage will not be clear until daytime temperatures in the valley reach 70°F for several days, which would restart vine growth and reveal which buds are still growing and which have been damaged. Temperatures this week are not expected to exceed 60°F.

“The young vines had developed an inch or two of growth, while the mature vines were just starting to bud,” said winemaker Ken Wright. “The exposed green tissue of young vines was extensively damaged at all of our sites.” Chardonnay vines were generally further along in development than Pinot Noir and could suffer significant crop loss. “After cutting out hundreds of buds in all places [to check for damage]my instinct is that the damage to the primary buds is significant and there is also damage to the secondary buds,” Wright said.

The structure of the buds themselves complicates the assessment. Each actually has three distinct buds: primary, secondary, and tertiary. The primary bud flowers and produces the main crop, but if damaged the smaller secondary bud will grow, but it will produce fewer flowers and a considerably smaller crop.

“At first, I thought only our Chardonnay was hurt because it was leafy, while the Pinot was still pretty tight in the bud,” winemaker Tony Soter said after surveying his Mineral Springs Ranch vineyard. “But it seems a little clearer that most of the Pinot primaries are damaged, but the secondary buds are showing more life. We worked on a frost event at the Beacon Hill vineyard in the early 2000s, and that demanded a lot of creativity, improvisation and ad-libbing.”

This is just the latest setback for Willamette Valley, which smelled smoky in 2020 from major wildfires in the area.

California Impact

To the south, California’s Central Valley and the Eastern Foothills experienced their worst frost in years, inflicting extensive damage and taking winemakers by surprise. “We were experiencing 90°F temperatures three days prior, so it was very strange weather,” said Stuart Spencer, executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission.

After a storm front passed in the early morning hours of April 12, the dew point dropped and temperatures dropped. Some areas suffered freezing temperatures for five hours. Spencer said he believes Clarksburg, southwest of Sacramento, suffered significant losses, but in Lodi the degree of damage varies by location. “The eastern hills were badly affected. Some vineyards lost almost 100%, with vines fried to the cord. Other areas were damaged in an intermediate way and others had no damage at all. been affected,” he said.

In Amador County, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, Bill Easton, owner and winemaker of Easton and Domaine de la Terre Rouge, reported similar results. “We had damage. I think around 25-30%, maybe less,” he explained, noting that the damage also varied by grape variety. The early grape varieties – Viognier, Barbera and Sauvignon Blanc – were the hardest hit. Easton’s winemaking practices may have helped. “We are pruning late to delay bud break. The first pruning shears were burned,” he said.

Nearby Terra d’Oro, winemaker Melissa Bordi said she suffered minimal damage to vineyards adjacent to the winery and tasting room. But other vineyards, including one behind the winery and others to the east of the winery, suffered greater damage, ranging from 40 to 60 percent buds. “Our hardest hit location is our Shenandoah Vineyard at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley,” she said. “Planted in both Zinfandel and Barbera, we are seeing 60% losses.”

The UC Davis Department of Viticulture will offer a webinar on May 3 on identifying and mitigating frost damage in vineyards and will provide additional resources for affected winemakers.

Spencer expects Lodi’s yields to drop significantly which could be a blow. Lodi is a vital part of the California wine industry, with 110,000 acres of vineyards accounting for 20% of all wine produced in the state.

“We are so sad to have so much damage for the 2022 vintage,” Bordi said, “but we are optimistic that the remaining sprouts will be able to provide us with the expected quality of our wines.”


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April snowstorm damages local vineyards; too early to tell the extent https://dsharma.org/april-snowstorm-damages-local-vineyards-too-early-to-tell-the-extent/ Sun, 24 Apr 2022 00:22:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/april-snowstorm-damages-local-vineyards-too-early-to-tell-the-extent/ NEWBERG, Ore. (KPTV) — Wineries hit by a mid-spring snowstorm earlier this month are still assessing the damage to their crop. Kim Bellingar, owner of Bellingar Estates, said it was still too early to assess the extent of the damage. But she said, at least for her winery, she already expected this year’s harvest to […]]]>

NEWBERG, Ore. (KPTV) — Wineries hit by a mid-spring snowstorm earlier this month are still assessing the damage to their crop.

Kim Bellingar, owner of Bellingar Estates, said it was still too early to assess the extent of the damage. But she said, at least for her winery, she already expected this year’s harvest to be smaller than usual, leading to a loss of revenue.

At Bellingar Estates in Newberg, vines began sprouting green buds that would eventually bear fruit a week before the record-breaking snowstorm in northwest Oregon. Bellingar said the frost killed the buds, turning them brown and crisp.

“This is unprecedented in the Willamette Valley to have cold temperatures in April,” Bellingar said. “We had snow in April. I have never seen snow in April here in the Willamette Valley.

Bellingar said the vines will eventually sprout new green buds, but the delay will delay his harvest time by a few weeks.

“The challenge is there’s not much you can do when it happens and mother nature is going to do what she does,” Bellingar said.

She said about 80% of the buds on her vines had been damaged by the cold temperatures. But the vines themselves will survive. Bellingar said this cold spell will impact the quantity of wine, not the quality. She also said that every winery is experiencing something different from the cold snap. For at least his winery, this will be the third year in a row that Bellingar’s harvest yields a lower than typical product.

“Unfortunately, we were working with a few years in a row on smaller vintages than we would like and many wineries will be faced with a shorter supply,” Bellingar said.

Bellingar has worked in the wine industry since 2007. Since then she has noticed a change in climate that is impacting the wine industry here in Oregon.

“We’re starting to see more extreme weather events,” Bellingar said. “So that definitely changes. It’s slowly changing. It’s a long-term problem that we face.

Bellingar said each vineyard experiences each extreme weather event differently. She says the wine community constantly discusses the impact of these extreme weather events on each other. Later, as temperatures rise, Oregon may see more warm-climate grapes planted.

“We will also see other tactics to combat rising temperatures, such as planting at higher elevations, slightly more north-facing sites that can be cooler and better protected,” Bellingar said.

Whether it’s a mid-spring cold snap or a mid-summer heat wave, Bellingar is certain the wine industry will adapt. She said climate change is impacting all aspects of the agriculture industry.

“I think it’s important to keep checking in with these agricultural businesses,” Bellingar said. “They impact the economy of the state and if you love wine, you should care.”

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Scheid Vineyards Hosts Earth Day Tour to Greenfield Estate – The King City Rustler https://dsharma.org/scheid-vineyards-hosts-earth-day-tour-to-greenfield-estate-the-king-city-rustler/ Fri, 22 Apr 2022 23:24:40 +0000 https://dsharma.org/scheid-vineyards-hosts-earth-day-tour-to-greenfield-estate-the-king-city-rustler/ GREENFIELD — Scheid Vineyards is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and recently hosted an Earth Day visit to its winery — just off Highway 101 between Greenfield and King City — to discuss its growing sustainability efforts environmental. During the March 25 tour, scheduled ahead of Earth Day on April 22, management reviewed the […]]]>

GREENFIELD — Scheid Vineyards is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and recently hosted an Earth Day visit to its winery — just off Highway 101 between Greenfield and King City — to discuss its growing sustainability efforts environmental.

During the March 25 tour, scheduled ahead of Earth Day on April 22, management reviewed the winery’s enduring efforts that combine technology and sustainability, from the giant wind turbine standing above the vines from Greenfield to the smallest insect larva used as a pest control.

“We have enough vineyards to experiment with,” President Scott Scheid said. “With 3,000 acres of vines that we cultivate, there are always opportunities in our different climates to put together rows and do repeat trials over the years.”

Craig Winn, Director of Viticulture and Technology, added, “We have four of the five crop type regions covered within one company, which doesn’t happen very often, so we’re able to play with techniques.

“There’s a difference between avant-garde and avant-garde,” Scott Scheid said of the importance of testing ideas, from manipulating insects to developing wine aromas.

The 1.85 megawatt wind turbine, which sits 230 feet in the air with an overall blade height of 400 feet, was installed in 2017.

Executive Vice President Heidi Scheid said the amount of kilowatt hours generated by the turbine is “the equivalent of 3,125 tonnes of carbon pollution”. She compared that to taking 350 cars off the road or carbon sequestering 47,000 tree seedlings over 10 years.

Scott Scheid said the excess energy powers the equivalent of 125 homes. Although the vineyard draws electricity from PG&E on windless days, he noted that the turbine produces 200% of the electricity needed by the winery each year, with excess electricity fed back into the grid.

Although solar power was considered, Scott Scheid said wind made more sense with the area being so windy.

The company worked with the Ventana Wildlife Society to ensure the turbine blades would not interfere with condor flights in the area. Crops can also be planted next to the base of the structure.

Craig Winn, director of viticulture and technology, holds grape buds to show what growers look for when pruning vines. (Sean Roney)

Pest control efforts

Winn reviewed the growing environmentally conscious efforts, including the announcement that the company has started using drones for pest control. Vineyard workers can spot pests and identify them, and then the appropriate predator or parasitic insect used to combat that pest can be released specifically on the infested row or rows.

An example given by Winn was cryptolaemus, which has larvae that feed on scale insects that would otherwise harm plants. He explained that the insect control tests were part of the company’s mission to “provide quality fruit at a reasonable price and be environmentally conscious”.

By using insects to control pests, the company sees a reduction in the need for chemical solutions.

Winn said recent price increases for insecticides, as well as other agricultural supplies, are further spurring the desire to reduce the amount of chemicals released not only to the vines, but also to the region’s environment. With this broader scope in mind, specific pest control efforts also reduce damage to non-target insects.

Another pest control effort Winn reviewed was the agrothermal system, which can be outfitted on a tractor to spray rows with a paraffin-like oil with heat. He also said inter-row weed control can be achieved with low blades on tractors, rather than spraying herbicides.

Winn noted that with harmful chemicals, it can sometimes be years before a grower sees the impact of what they put in the environment.

“Everything we use right now is needs-based,” he said not only of pest responses that can be narrowed down to individual rows, but also of the use of monitoring technology, including the sensors, to know the conditions of the water, the soil and the vine.

He compared today’s precision methods to older farming practices, which were more “all-in, all-out” when it came to responses.

“It’s all about precision,” Winn said, explaining that if a vine has a need and its neighbors don’t, the company can meet it on its own.

Reducing specific responses requires technology to be in place to monitor the vineyard and take measurements several times a day. It also takes interaction and communication, with Winn noting that Scheid is “filled with communication.”

Executive Vice President Heidi Scheid discusses using technology to innovate in agriculture. (Sean Roney)

Sustainable cultivation practices

Winn also reviewed cultivation practices, which include responsible use of resources. The marc of the harvest, the mixture of plant waste left after the harvest and the first vinification, is fermented and transformed into compost.

Applied to the rows, it not only provides nutrients to the vines, but also acts as a mulch to reduce weed growth. A drip irrigation system means less water used than irrigation for maintaining the vines.

In addition to active monitoring and responses, Winn said the company encourages wildlife to participate in growing efforts. Insect rows are used to attract desired insects to the vines.

While grapes are self-pollinating, bees are always sought after. The company also had 174 owl boxes, including a barn owl box near the tasting room.

There are also perches for predatory birds. Winn said the raptors do an excellent job of controlling rodents, from golden and bald eagles to red-tailed hawks and a variety of owls.

“In some areas, we’ve encouraged coyotes to come up with water sources for them to feed on squirrels and rodents,” Winn said. He explained that coyote puppies might chew lines while teething, but the loss is acceptable since line breaks are part of the maintenance routine anyway.

In conclusion, Heidi Scheid said that making innovations requires having a “continuous improvement mindset” due to the cutting edge of agtech always going the extra mile. Scott Scheid added that the company’s innovation and technology are all about product quality.

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Winemakers recruit birds to their vineyards https://dsharma.org/winemakers-recruit-birds-to-their-vineyards/ Thu, 21 Apr 2022 15:30:18 +0000 https://dsharma.org/winemakers-recruit-birds-to-their-vineyards/ Advertisement A symbiotic relationship between birds and grape growers is emerging, and its implications are vast. By Kathleen Willcox Since 1970, bird populations in North America alone have declined by nearly 3 billion, according to a study conducted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. One of the culprits of this mortality, according to scientists, is […]]]>
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A symbiotic relationship between birds and grape growers is emerging, and its implications are vast.

By Kathleen Willcox

Since 1970, bird populations in North America alone have declined by nearly 3 billion, according to a study conducted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. One of the culprits of this mortality, according to scientists, is the pesticide. On 1 billion pounds of pesticides is sprayed in the United States every year. Beyond their intended effects, these poisons can contaminate water and soil and be toxic to a host of organisms, including birds, fish and even humans. according to the EPA.

Many winemakers are discovering that they can drastically reduce pesticide use – something many regions are working toin a broad push towards more sustainable cultivation practices – by recruiting wild winged workers.

“Birds and farmers can help each other,” says Matt Johnson, a wildlife habitat ecology professor at Cal Poly Humboldt in Arcata, Calif., who has led several studies of the symbiotic relationship between birds and vineyards. . “Our research focused on owls, primarily, but it also affected songbirds like swallows and bluebirds.

“Because so many natural nesting habitats have been destroyed by modern agriculture (including the planting of vines), winemakers find that inviting owls and songbirds into their vineyards not only helps the birds, but dramatically reduces rodent and insect populations.

One of Johnson’s alumni, Xerónimo Castañeda, currently conservation project manager at Audubon in California, notes that he’s had to deal with an influx of requests for bird information from vineyard managers in recent months.

“Costs of inputs like fuel and the cost of labor for managing pesticide programs have increased significantly recently,” Castañeda says. “People are starting to realize that by bringing in birds they can essentially get free labor – and the hands-off, chemical-free approach benefits everyone.”

Owls + Hawks Eliminate Rodents

Rodents have been ravaging agricultural fields since the dawn of agriculture. Grape growers are now discovering that owls act as more effective and environmentally friendly rodent terminators than pesticides in traps. A family of owls can eat an average of 3,466 rodents per year, according to Johnson’s research.

In 2007, Ames Morrison, co-founder of Healdsburg’s Medlock Ameslearned what effective allies owls can be when growing organic grapes.

“We installed owl boxes, and the posts where the boxes are mounted have a crossbar that attracts red-tailed hawks,” Morrison says. “These two birds feed on ground squirrels and voles, which can damage or kill our vines.”

The program has been so successful that the team plans to double its number of owl boxes over the next two years, for a final count of around 60.

Inviting owls and songbirds into the vineyards greatly reduces rodent and insect populations.  (Ron Rubin Vineyards)
Inviting owls and songbirds into the vineyards greatly reduces rodent and insect populations. (Ron Rubin Vineyards)

William Thiersch, assistant winemaker and responsible for sustainable development at Ron Rubinsays the team at his 10-acre vineyard in Sebastopol, Calif., installed owl boxes in partnership with the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue Program and SEP certified.

“The four owl boxes we installed in 2016 were a game-changer for our vineyard manager,” says Theirsch. “Before, he spent a lot of time, money and effort setting traps, but the owls completely take care of our rodents. Now he can focus those efforts on growing grapes.

Falcons + Eagles make great grape guards

Some birds are also made to act as heavyweights against smaller birds that feast on grapes.

To Domaine Bousquet in Mendoza, Argentina, peregrine falcons have been introduced to scare away doves that nest in the roof of the winery, as well as grape-eating sparrows, says the winery’s agronomist, Franco Bastias.

“We have perches for diurnal birds of prey, such as eagles, kites and kestrels, to target starlings and other flying vertebrates that wreak havoc on the grapes,” says winemaker Luis Duarte from l ‘Alentejo, Portugal. Herdade dos Grous. “By reducing starling damage to grapes, the potential for fungal diseases, such as botrytis, is reduced.”

Recruiting winged workers can be part of a winery's efforts toward balance and sustainability.  (Herdade de Coelheiros)
Recruiting winged workers can be part of a winery’s efforts toward balance and sustainability. (Herdade de Coelheiros)

To Herdade of Coelheiros in the Alentejo, agricultural manager João Raposeira, explains that the recruitment of winged workers is part of the winery’s overall effort towards balance and sustainability.

“Having eagles and falcons in the vineyard creates a deterrent effect on small birds that can cause significant crop damage,” Raposeira explains. “From our point of view, any significant damage to fruits and crops caused by birds or insects is indicative of an imbalance. Birds are part of the ecosystem. Our goal is to interpret these systems and improve their balance and resilience through natural means.

Spray reduction

Encouraging natural resilience and reducing the need to spray pesticides is the foundation of many vineyard bird programs.

In Italy, the Trentodoc Endrizzi the vines are grown organically and “we ask insectivorous birds for help”, explains CEO Christine Endrici. “Our 20 nesting boxes per hectare make the vineyard a sought-after habitat for chickadees, redstarts, sparrows, robins, hoopoes and bats, which say ‘thank you’ for hospitality by reliably fighting against pests such as vine worms and leafhoppers.”

Other producers, including Ken Forrester Wines in Raithyby, South Africa, are also finding that having a range of birds helping out in the vineyards allows them to reduce spraying programs significantly.

Chickens eat maggots (Pexels)
Chickens eat maggots (Pexels)

“We use ducks to control snails and insects, and we have raptor perches and owl boxes for rodents,” says winemaker Ken Forrester. “We also use chickens to control maggots.” In addition to “working birds”, the property is also home to native wildlife, including “dogs, geese, jackals, otters, porcupine, grysbokke, duikers, owls and other assorted birds.”

The “more is better” philosophy rules the day at Domaine Bousquet as well. “We encourage all wildlife by saving rainwater and dispersing it in the vineyard as watering points for foxes, wild rabbits and birds,” says Bastias. “We now have a healthy population of all kinds of flora and fauna, including endangered [species] which can bring unexpected benefits.

Several ducks, Bastias explains, have taken up residence in the cellar pond, and “their presence balances the vegetative growth of the pond and keeps it in balance.”

We have seen the unintended, largely negative consequences of industrial agriculture and monoculture in vineyards. It’s refreshing to see more and more producers enjoying the flip side.

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Kathleen Willcox
Kathleen Willcox

Kathleen Willcox

Kathleen Willcox writes about wine, food and culture from her home in Saratoga Springs, NY. She has a keen interest in sustainability issues and in making ethical food and beverages. His work appears regularly in wine researcher, wine lover, Liquor.com and many other publications. Kathleen has also co-authored a book titled Hudson Valley Wine: A Story of Taste and Terroirwhich was released in 2017. Follow her wine explorations on Instagram at @kathleenwillcox

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Staying ahead of mite populations in vineyards https://dsharma.org/staying-ahead-of-mite-populations-in-vineyards/ Tue, 12 Apr 2022 15:33:04 +0000 https://dsharma.org/staying-ahead-of-mite-populations-in-vineyards/ With rising temperatures, winemakers are encouraged to stay on the lookout for mite populations growing in vineyards. Mites can quickly become a problem with females laying up to 200 eggs which can develop into adults in about a week. Katie Driver, Northern California technical services manager for UPL, said early and frequent scouting is important […]]]>

With rising temperatures, winemakers are encouraged to stay on the lookout for mite populations growing in vineyards. Mites can quickly become a problem with females laying up to 200 eggs which can develop into adults in about a week. Katie Driver, Northern California technical services manager for UPL, said early and frequent scouting is important to avoid mite problems.

“There’s no substitute for being proactive in diligently researching your culture and determining your treatment threshold level and starting early with your treatments before a population explodes,” Driver noted. “With the spring conditions we had, hot and dry, don’t rule out problems earlier in the season and be surprised. So scouting early and often will really help combat this mite pressure. Then when you decide you’ve reached that treatment threshold and decide to treat, coverage will be key.

The mites thrive in hot, dry conditions and usually populate under the leaves, which can create challenges for spray applications. Driver explained that making applications before the canopy becomes too dense will help miticides be more effective. Slowing down during applications is also important to achieve adequate coverage in vineyards. Growers will also want to select equipment that will be most appropriate for the mite problems of their particular operations. There are several types of miticide options available to take care of mite populations.

“You need to use the right miticide at the right time and UPL offers miticides with the flexibility to fit many grower programs. We have VIGILANT and ACRAMITE which are IRAC 20D and they provide outstanding spider mite protection at all ages,” Driver said. “We also offer KANEMITE which belongs to this same IRAC 20D and like VIGILANT and ACRAMITE it controls mites at all life stages.”

Listen to the full episode below.

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How bitter frost affected French vineyards https://dsharma.org/how-bitter-frost-affected-french-vineyards/ Fri, 08 Apr 2022 07:00:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/how-bitter-frost-affected-french-vineyards/ The reason for the unusual temperature variations in French wine regions is a well-known culprit: climate change, per Axios. In fact, climate change is already affecting wine quite devastatingly. Warming winters cause a phenomenon known as “false spring,” in which unusually warm temperatures cause plants to bloom too early, making them more vulnerable to periods […]]]>

The reason for the unusual temperature variations in French wine regions is a well-known culprit: climate change, per Axios. In fact, climate change is already affecting wine quite devastatingly. Warming winters cause a phenomenon known as “false spring,” in which unusually warm temperatures cause plants to bloom too early, making them more vulnerable to periods of frost (via Center for Urban Ecology).

A World Weather Attribution study of the devastating cold spell of 2021 found that climate change is making this situation more than 60% more likely to occur. Changing weather patterns are not only leading to warmer average temperatures overall, but also more intense freezing spells, like the deadly Texas cold snap that hit in 2021, according to the Washington Post.

In France, as winegrowers experienced the coldest April day in 75 years (via France24), they must adapt, and quickly. “There’s a lot to be done to change viticultural practices… in the context of climate change,” viticulture adviser Mathilde Civet told Reuters, but not everyone agrees. “Recent bouts of drought and frosts have been a wake-up call for some, but in previous years there was a kind of denial.”

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Keeping Vineyards Free of Botrytis Problems https://dsharma.org/keeping-vineyards-free-of-botrytis-problems/ Wed, 06 Apr 2022 22:53:34 +0000 https://dsharma.org/keeping-vineyards-free-of-botrytis-problems/ Winegrowers are regularly confronted with botrytis problems in their vineyards every year. Although the disease is more prevalent in cooler growing regions, it can be a problem for any grower given the right environmental conditions. Katie Driver, technical services manager for Northern California for UPL, said growers keep several factors in mind when considering the […]]]>

Winegrowers are regularly confronted with botrytis problems in their vineyards every year. Although the disease is more prevalent in cooler growing regions, it can be a problem for any grower given the right environmental conditions. Katie Driver, technical services manager for Northern California for UPL, said growers keep several factors in mind when considering the potential for botrytis infection.

“This can become a problem in high humidity conditions associated with high nitrogen levels or tight bunches. All of this can favor an outbreak of botrytis. Infections are going to be more severe when the relative humidity in the canopy exceeds 92 percent, free moisture is present on the surface of the fruit, and temperatures are between 58 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit,” Driver explained. “Berries that have been damaged by insects, birds, machinery or other things can become infected any time after the fruit begins to ripen, as the juice from the berry can provide the water and nutrients necessary for fungal growth.”

Condensed bunches contribute to botrytis problems in vineyards in multiple ways. Grapes can crack under pressure, allowing the fungus to grow at the point of injury, which provides a moist habitat for spore germination. Cracked grapes can also attract fruit flies. The insects can then spread the disease by moving from cluster to cluster. Driver explained that they have several different options that can help growers with botrytis issues.

“PH-D is the first. It is a trusted fungicide that provides effective control with a unique mode of action that has become an important resistance management tool for stubborn diseases of grapes in addition to other key California crops,” said Driver. . “We also offer ELEVATE, which is a unique mode of action. It has a narrower spectrum of control, but is botrytis specific and there is no cross-resistance between other botrytis fungicides or SBI classes.

Listen to the full episode below.

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