Vineyards – D Sharma http://dsharma.org/ Thu, 02 Dec 2021 07:40:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://dsharma.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/icon-6-120x120.png Vineyards – D Sharma http://dsharma.org/ 32 32 California vineyards use barn owls to control rodent populations | Orchards, nuts and vines https://dsharma.org/california-vineyards-use-barn-owls-to-control-rodent-populations-orchards-nuts-and-vines/ Thu, 02 Dec 2021 01:00:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/california-vineyards-use-barn-owls-to-control-rodent-populations-orchards-nuts-and-vines/ Country united states of americaUS Virgin IslandsMinor Outlying Islands of the United StatesCanadaMexico, United Mexican StatesBahamas, Commonwealth ofCuba, Republic ofDominican RepublicHaiti, Republic ofJamaicaAfghanistanAlbania, People’s Socialist Republic ofAlgeria, People’s Democratic Republic ofAmerican SamoaAndorra, Principality ofAngola, Republic ofAnguillaAntarctica (the territory south of 60 degrees S)Antigua and BarbudaArgentina, Argentine RepublicArmeniaArubaAustralia, Commonwealth ofAustria, Republic ofAzerbaijan, Republic ofBahrain, Kingdom ofBangladesh, […]]]>


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Winter is approaching, so is the rain: Controlling erosion in the vineyard during the off-season | Local News https://dsharma.org/winter-is-approaching-so-is-the-rain-controlling-erosion-in-the-vineyard-during-the-off-season-local-news/ Mon, 29 Nov 2021 00:00:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/winter-is-approaching-so-is-the-rain-controlling-erosion-in-the-vineyard-during-the-off-season-local-news/ The winter season is officially upon us, and the rainy weather has prompted the Napa Valley wine teams to step up anti-erosion measures on their properties. Support local media coverage and those who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register. Special offer: $ 5 for your first 5 months! While it is important […]]]>

The winter season is officially upon us, and the rainy weather has prompted the Napa Valley wine teams to step up anti-erosion measures on their properties.

While it is important to prevent leaching from your vineyard for obvious practical reasons, rain carrying sediment down the valley and into waterways also has a negative impact on the terroir.

County regulations require most wineries to work with a civil engineer and establish an erosion control plan before obtaining necessary building permits, and various restoration projects and certification programs have sprung up over the years. time to keep Napa soil intact and the waters clean.

“Not everyone is familiar with Napa County’s conservation regulations, and on top of that, the efforts of winegrowers to winterize their property and protect the watershed from soil erosion,” says Molly Moran Williams, Director of Industry and Community Relations at Napa Valley Grapegrowers. . “The recent and historic weather conditions of the river coupled with areas marked by fire could have been a perfect storm for disaster,” she said.

“Instead, it was a success story of what has been achieved through an ongoing focus on conservation in a community.”

Erosion control measures weren’t always on the minds of vineyard owners, and even when they were, properties have historically relied on less than effective methods that have since been gradually adopted. abandoned.

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“The erosion control plan really came into effect in the 90s when it became more of a concern, especially with the terraces located in areas with very steep slopes,” said Justin Leigon, winemaker for Piña Vineyard. Management. “The terraces weren’t staying intact and that was causing issues, so it was really nice to see this move towards a greater focus on soil health. “

Leigon says terraces aren’t as easy to manage as water tends to pool, and then you have to find a way to filter it around the vineyard into some storage pond of some sort.

Nowadays, he says the civil engineers his company works with often develop the plan by examining the grade, overall soil type, and terrain, then help his crews determine the best spots to mulch or build a bypass ditch. .

“I think that’s a lot of our understanding, and our current knowledge is different now than it was then,” he said. “We are constantly adapting and evolving and learning more about best practices. “

At Premiere Viticulture Services, the feeling is similar.

“In many cases the first thing we can do for a property is to slow down the water so that it doesn’t create a runoff that will start to dig and erode our soils,” said Garrett Buckland, Premiere partner. . “With the rain case we just had, even though you’re on a relatively flat vineyard, you can get real erosion and concentrated flows,” he explained.

“The water can really speed up over those areas and pick up a lot of sediment and material and deposit it in other places… If that is to happen, we want it to stay on our property before it gets into a lane. navigable so that we can keep sediment out of the waterway.

Premiere also uses straw barbs – which Buckland says look like skinny burritos – which are basically plastic mesh tubes stuffed with straw.

“They basically serve as a tool to draw the contour, and they will intercept the water, filter it and slow it down,” he said.

Premiere also uses strategically placed bales of straw to slow down the water and create “mini speed bumps” for water throughout the property. According to county regulations, Buckland says they must winterize all of their properties by Oct. 15 to Sept. 15 for those in a municipal watershed, which he says is quite advanced but beneficial.

“Normally we don’t see big precipitation until it gets to the end of October, so it’s designed so that all of these erosion control elements are in place before one of these big storms,” he said. -he declares.

And while these response measures are helpful in preventing soil erosion, Buckland says that if given raw land, the goal would be to design something that doesn’t require putting in straw.

“So looking at a property, there are sort of two ways: the unconditional engineer method, which is to build a dam and run it and control it and have a sluice gate here and there…. But we’re looking for natural ways to slow this down, ”Buckland said. “Having a permanent cover crop, where we can cover at least 80 percent of the vegetation cover, is really the best way to slow down the water. “

After heavy rains last month, Buckland gives credit to practices such as cover crops, the use of straw and bypass ditches to avoid water-related problems, and other than areas marked by the fire, says he has not heard of any major problems in his or his vineyards from his peers.

“What we have done over the past 30 years is working and we should be passing our story on to the rest of the growing regions of the world,” he said.

The mainstay of downtown Napa, Shackford’s Kitchen Store and More, will change its business model from brick-and-mortar retailer to online merchant. Take a tour inside the store here.



Jennifer Huffman, register




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Rich Frank’s Frank Family Vineyards Sold for $ 315 Million to Treasury Americas https://dsharma.org/rich-franks-frank-family-vineyards-sold-for-315-million-to-treasury-americas/ Thu, 18 Nov 2021 04:44:49 +0000 https://dsharma.org/rich-franks-frank-family-vineyards-sold-for-315-million-to-treasury-americas/ Napa Valley Frank family vineyards was acquired by Treasury Americas for $ 315 million. The winery has been owned and operated for 30 years by Rich Franck, a former Disney and Paramount Pictures executive who entered the grape business in the early 1990s. The acquisition covers the Calistoga, Calif., winery, brand and wineries. More Variety […]]]>

Napa Valley Frank family vineyards was acquired by Treasury Americas for $ 315 million.

The winery has been owned and operated for 30 years by Rich Franck, a former Disney and Paramount Pictures executive who entered the grape business in the early 1990s. The acquisition covers the Calistoga, Calif., winery, brand and wineries.

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The acquisition includes the Frank Family Tasting Room in Calistoga, Calif., The Benjamin Vineyard in Rutherford, the S&J Vineyard in Capell Valley and a portfolio of wines with retail prices ranging from $ 38 to $ 225 per bottle. Todd Graff, winemaker and general manager of Frank Family, will remain at Frank Family Vineyards after the closure.

Rich and Leslie Frank - Credit: Tubay Yabut Photography

Rich and Leslie Frank – Credit: Tubay Yabut Photography

Tubay Yabut Photography

Frank and his wife, Leslie Frank, will retain ownership of Winston Hill Vineyard in Rutherford and Lewis Vineyard in Napa. Both wineries will source grapes for the Frank family’s reserve level after the sale. The deal is expected to be concluded next month.

“The acquisition of Frank Family Vineyards represents an exceptional addition to Treasury Americas’ brand portfolio and is another important step towards our ambition to become the market leader in premium wines in the Americas,” said Ben Dollard, President of Treasury Americas, an offshoot of Australia’s Treasury Wineries. “Rich, Leslie and the entire Frank Family Vineyard team have built an exceptional legacy that we are delighted to nurture for years to come. We are delighted that Rich and Leslie continue to be very involved and welcome the FFV team to Treasury Wine Estates.

Frank, who is a past president of the Television Academy and the father of Amblin TV president Darryl Frank, said the winery’s success has been gratifying for his family.

“Leslie and I look forward to continuing to be a part of the next chapter of Frank Family Vineyards, a business we have spent nearly three decades cultivating into a beloved luxury wine brand,” said Rich Frank. “We pride ourselves on creating a family atmosphere among our staff and guests and know that this legacy will continue. We, along with our team, are delighted to remain actively involved with Frank Family, while taking on new leadership roles with Treasury Americas. “

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Spotted lanterns love grapes. This worries the vineyards of NJ. https://dsharma.org/spotted-lanterns-love-grapes-this-worries-the-vineyards-of-nj/ Sat, 13 Nov 2021 15:00:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/spotted-lanterns-love-grapes-this-worries-the-vineyards-of-nj/ About three years ago, Mike Beneduce Jr. noticed an insect he had never seen before flying among the vines at Beneduce Vineyards, where he is Vineyard Manager and Winemaker. The insect was unique, with mottled wings and red, black and white spots. Soon after, he observed the insect on the vines on the farm’s 20-plus […]]]>

About three years ago, Mike Beneduce Jr. noticed an insect he had never seen before flying among the vines at Beneduce Vineyards, where he is Vineyard Manager and Winemaker. The insect was unique, with mottled wings and red, black and white spots. Soon after, he observed the insect on the vines on the farm’s 20-plus acres.

“No one really knew anything at the time except that they like grapes,” Beneduce told NJ Advance Media.

After speaking with other farm owners in the Hunterdon County area where Beneduce Vineyards is located, he learned to identify the insect as the spotted lantern fly, an invasive species that caused headaches to farmers. of Pennsylvania in recent years.

This September 2019 file photo shows an adult spotted lantern at a vineyard in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.PA

Native to China, India and Vietnam, the spotted lantern fly first appeared in Berks County, Pa., in 2014. It eats the sap of plants and trees, leaving behind a sweet liquid called honeydew that encourages fungal growth on weakened plants. Lanterns are known to invade towns in Pennsylvania by the hundreds of thousands. They were first confirmed in New Jersey in 2018. Since then, infestations have been found in 20 of the state’s 21 counties, according to a map of confirmed spotted lantern locations.

News of the spotted lantern fly‘s spread portends winemakers like Beneduce, who has heard a few nightmarish scenarios emerge from Pennsylvania vineyards.

“They were sort of ground zero for this thing, where they just didn’t know what it was or how to deal with it or anything. They were so weak that the vines died in the winter, and that’s a huge economic loss, ”he said.

Vineyards are like orchards in that they rely on perennial crops which, unlike annual crops, do not need to be replanted each year. Vineyard owners expect their vines to have a lifespan of 40 or 50 years, explained Beneduce, “so when you lose a plant like that, it costs a lot to bring it back into production.”

Last year, Beneduce said the vineyard saw spotted lanterns “in much higher quantities than in 2019 – enough for us certainly”.

He began to consult researchers at the time Extension of the Rutgers cooperative and Cornell University, who conducted experiments and studies on his vineyard to learn more about the spotted lantern fly. The work is in progress, but has resulted in a few recommendations for defense against the pest – namely insecticides at the right time.

“We never like to spray insecticides in our vineyard unless absolutely necessary, just because it’s not good for the environment, but last year was sort of a matter of choice: managing with timely insecticide sprays or letting them consume your crop, which obviously was not an option for a commercial grower. It’s tricky, ”said Beneduce.

Nick Sharko, winemaker at Alba Vineyard in Milford, said he has been navigating the delicate management of the spotted lantern fly for several years now. The winery is located in the village of Finesville in Warren County, a short drive from Bucks County, Pa., Which means the spotted lantern was a familiar enemy of Sharko long before it moved to east to other farms in NJ.

Alba vineyards

Alba Vineyard, located in County Warren, has been fighting the spotted lantern fly for several years now.

“It’s new to you guys in eastern New Jersey, but it’s actually been here for a while,” Sharko told NJ Advance Media.

Like Beneduce, Sharko said his vineyard saw an influx of spotted lanterns last year, while 2021 proved a bit more tame. He usually tries to schedule insecticide spraying right after harvest and has so far avoided “catastrophic problems”, but he still notices a few vines that have been affected by the invading insect.

“It weakens the overall health of the vine and I noticed we got it where they were really bad,” he said.

While the pest has yet to be found at Ventimiglia Vineyard, a winery in the Township of Wantage in Sussex County, Anthony Ventimiglia said it was only a matter of time before the Spotted Lantern did. encroaches on its cultures.

“Based on my past experiences with invasive insects – we’ve had the emerald ash borer here for over a decade – I think by next summer we will be waving the white flag and looking forward to our vineyards and orchards are decimated, ”he said. NJ Advance Media.

Dr Amanda Tokash-Peters, assistant professor of biology at Centenary University in Hackettstown, is currently researching the spotted lantern fly with the aim of finding methods to control the spread of the pest and crop killer.

Spotted Lantern at Basking Ridge

Spotted Lanterns move slowly over a tree in October at Mountain Park in Basking Ridge. Tuesday October 26, 2021.Patti Sapone | Advanced NJ Media

“I have seen very high ratios, in some cases myself firsthand. We’ve had a really, really great abundance of lanterns in the apple orchards and vineyards, which is obviously a little heartbreaking, ”Tokash-Peters said.

Right now, she said the best way to protect the vineyards we love so much (not to mention the other 69 lantern-spotted plant species are known to feed) is simple – “keep an eye out for spotted lanterns and kill them as soon as you see them.” “

She urges New Jersey residents to get creative with their “crusade to kill lantern flies,” noting public awareness that a “lantern fly pub crawl” held last month in Bordentown City brought to the problem.

Tokash-Peters regularly posts advice on her Twitter and Instagram Explain what to do if you encounter an invasive insect, such as the spotted lantern fly. NJ.com also has some tips on how to exterminate the bug if you encounter it.

At present, the spotted lantern is in the adult stage and has almost finished laying its egg masses. Although it cannot survive the winter, the insect’s egg masses can and produce around 30 to 50 nymphs which hatch in the spring.

By Jackie Roman |  NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The spotted lanterns, on the left, create these mud-like egg masses, on the right, which residents can scratch to destroy. (By Jackie Roman | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

“Keep an eye out for these if you see them and make sure to remove and destroy them.” That way we can prevent, in a given egg mass, about 50 more lanterns next season, ”Tokash-Peters said.

You can learn to identify the spotted lantern, in all its forms, on the NJDA website.

Sightings of spotted lanterns can be reported via a dedicated website, by email at SLF-plantindustry@ag.nj.gov or by phone at (833) 422-3284.

Our journalism needs your support. Please register today at NJ.com.

Jackie Roman can be reached at jroman@njadvancemedia.com.



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Are protective solar panels the future of French vineyards? https://dsharma.org/are-protective-solar-panels-the-future-of-french-vineyards/ Thu, 04 Nov 2021 05:00:52 +0000 https://dsharma.org/are-protective-solar-panels-the-future-of-french-vineyards/ The grapes, planted in 2018 on a commercial vineyard near Perpignan, were grown on a pilot basis alongside a three-hectare outdoor plot of the same three grape varieties. In addition to producing electricity, the panels were lined up like Venetian blinds (called louver shutters in French) in order to protect crops as much as possible […]]]>

The grapes, planted in 2018 on a commercial vineyard near Perpignan, were grown on a pilot basis alongside a three-hectare outdoor plot of the same three grape varieties.

In addition to producing electricity, the panels were lined up like Venetian blinds (called louver shutters in French) in order to protect crops as much as possible from the scorching sun, hail and frost, as well as to increase soil moisture during the summer.

Alexandre Cartier, spokesperson for Sun’Agri, the company behind the panels, said: “The quality and quantity of the grapes grown under the panels looked superb at harvest and at least as good as the control vines without. panels.

“It is too early to tell if there is a marked difference in the wines produced, but we will see. ”

The panels were spread over 4.3 hectares on the Domaine de Nidolères in Tresserre. This year the test plots were hit by a late spring frost with a wave of polar air.

“There isn’t much you can do to stop the freezing when there is an air mass like that, what we call black frosts, but where the freezing is due to radiated heat when there is no clouds, as happens with hoar frosts, the vines under the panels are protected at 2C compared to other areas next to them, ”said Mr. Cartier.

During heat waves, the difference can be larger, with shaded vines up to 5 ° C cooler than the surrounding area.

The panels also keep the soil moist longer, extending a plant’s growing season by 14 days and reducing overall evaporation by 40%.

When hail threatens, the panels can be closed – they are the same used in rooftop installations and should withstand all but the largest hail. The first harvest was carried out by hand, but mechanical harvesters can pass under panels 5m high.

“We have shown that we are able to make significant differences in terms of temperature, humidity and the amount of light on the vines – all factors which can result in the grower being able to produce the best suited grapes. to the wine he wishes to make, ”said Mr. Cartier.

“It will become more and more important with global warming”

Since the panels are mainly used to control the environment below, their electricity production over a year is between 15 and 20% less than if they were installed for optimal electricity production.

It costs around € 800,000 per hectare to install the Sun’Agri system, which in most cases can be recovered in 10 to 15 years. The panels were also installed in two commercial orchards.

Mr Cartier is confident that more farms will follow, both in France, where there is government support in the form of guaranteed electricity prices higher than for normal panels, and elsewhere.

“With global warming, it will become more and more important,” he said.

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California wineries turn to owls for organic pest control https://dsharma.org/california-wineries-turn-to-owls-for-organic-pest-control/ Mon, 01 Nov 2021 09:10:39 +0000 https://dsharma.org/california-wineries-turn-to-owls-for-organic-pest-control/ When talking about a fine California wine, drinkers will discuss everything from the soil to the fruit to the skillful hand of the winemaker. But here’s a little guy who is often overlooked: the owl that protected these vines from rodent attacks. Nature Bay recently featured magazine research conducted in the Department of Wildlife at […]]]>

When talking about a fine California wine, drinkers will discuss everything from the soil to the fruit to the skillful hand of the winemaker. But here’s a little guy who is often overlooked: the owl that protected these vines from rodent attacks.

Nature Bay recently featured magazine research conducted in the Department of Wildlife at Humboldt State University under the direction of Professor Matt Johnson. Students graduating from his lab studied the impact of birds – mostly owls – on California vineyards as a greener option instead of using rodenticides. Of the 75 wineries surveyed by the lab, about 80% say they now use owl boxes to try to control rodents, especially ground squirrels, and Johnson explains that Napa Valley alone has over 300 such boxes which, if properly installed. , will naturally be transformed into new homes by owls native to the region.

Credit: Hector Ramon Perez / Unsplash

“There has been an increase in the use of birdhouses in California vineyards, not just in the Napa / Sonoma area, but also in other areas such as the Central Valley,” Johnson told me by th -mail. “It is interesting that the use of barn owl nesting boxes is also used in other regions and for other cultures around the world, such as Israel (alfalfa and other crops), Malaysia (palm trees), in Kenya (mixed vegetables), Spain (olive, etc.), and central California (pistachio and fig). ”

A team of three graduate students from the lab would monitor up to about 280 of these nesting boxes in 65 different vineyards, and a family of owls in each nest can apparently feast on about 3,400 rodents on average each year. The main focus of the lab’s research is to prove that these owl boxes really do reduce rodent numbers – something they say they haven’t yet conclusively achieved – but what they found was is that the farmers who use these boxes also use less rodenticides.

“Whether the use of barn owl cans caused this reduction in rodenticides is of course not proven,” Johnson said. “Nevertheless, this result is encouraging.

Either way, the ease with which owls are ready to settle in vineyards seems to be worth it. “You can literally put a barn owl nesting box right where you think you have a problem with small mammals, and voila! The owls will start using this area, ”said John C. Robinson, an ornithologist based in the Bay Area. Nature Bay.

But to be honest, if you offered me a free house next to a winery, I would probably do the same.

This story first appeared on www.foodandwine.com

(Main and feature image credit: Getty Images)

© 2021. TI Inc. Rich Media Group. All rights reserved. Licensed by FoodandWine.com and published with permission from Affluent Media Group. Reproduction in any way in any language in whole or in part without prior written permission is prohibited.

Food & Wine and the Food & Wine logo are registered trademarks of Affluent Media Group. Used under license.


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How the vineyards found this YF&R https://dsharma.org/how-the-vineyards-found-this-yfr/ Tue, 26 Oct 2021 17:33:17 +0000 https://dsharma.org/how-the-vineyards-found-this-yfr/ By Kevin Hecteman August D’Amato came to California for an internship six years ago and ended up staying. She is now an Assistant Winemaker and President of the Young Farmers and Ranchers of Napa County.Photo / Courtesy of August D’Amato August D’Amato did not find the vines so much as the vines found her. “I […]]]>

By Kevin Hecteman

August D’Amato came to California for an internship six years ago and ended up staying. She is now an Assistant Winemaker and President of the Young Farmers and Ranchers of Napa County.
Photo / Courtesy of August D’Amato

August D’Amato did not find the vines so much as the vines found her.

“I stumbled across vineyards and farming by accident,” D’Amato said. “After college I had a hard time finding a full-time job. I had moved to California in 2015 for an internship, which ultimately turned into a career for me.”

The Delaware native holds a dual bachelor’s degree in plant science and agricultural education from the University of Delaware, as well as a master’s degree in agronomy from Iowa State University. Today, she is an Assistant Winemaker at Barbour Vineyards in Napa County. She also cares for the next generation of Napa County winegrowers, serving as the chair of the Napa County Young Farmers and Ranchers Chapter.

A day in the life of D’Amato involves a lot of driving.

“I am responsible for researching all of our properties,” she said. “We have about 60 different properties, which vary between stages of development and vineyards planted over 50 years ago. A typical day or week for me is walking all these ranches, taking health notes and the condition of the plants and then provide recommendations to our growing team. “

Like most other Napa County grape growers, D’Amato has seen wildfires ravage the world-famous wine region on several occasions since 2017.

“We have seen a huge impact in our county, not just in the vineyards, but in our infrastructure,” D’Amato said. Last year, in “the glass fire and the LNU complex fire, a lot of our properties were pretty badly affected, which meant we lost entire vineyards. Some of our clients have lost homes ”.

D’Amato’s farm lost a significant amount of fruit to the fires, she said, mostly from exposure to smoke from the wildfires. Tests on the grapes showed a higher level of compounds, in particular guaiacol and 4-methylgaiacol, the two main suspects of the flavor of smoked wine, which would make any resulting wine undrinkable.

“We had to drop a significant amount of fruit, which is extremely disheartening,” she said, noting that around 50% of the cabernet on her farm had been lost due to exposure to the smoke. “I say cabernet specifically because a lot of people had harvested white varieties before the fires.”

She said she knew people who lost their entire harvest and “ended up dropping all of their fruit or not picking it.”

Dealing with the issue in the future, D’Amato said, is tantamount to dealing with climate change.

“As a farmer it’s something we deal with on a daily basis, it’s the constantly changing climate,” D’Amato said. Thanks to the experiences of the last few years, she added, “now we have to think about fire”.

This means fire mitigation work such as weeding and building defensible spaces around the property. But the solutions for the other main puzzle for winegrowers remain elusive.

“There’s not much we can do to prevent the smell of smoke,” D’Amato said. “I think this is something that a lot of us are looking to the industry with questions about how we’re going to deal with this in the future? If we have another fire again and we don’t ‘haven’t picked the fruit, what can we do to prevent that, or protect the fruit? As of yet, there are no answers to that. “

One place where D’Amato has found common ground with others is YF&R. She first became involved when the Napa County Outpost was relaunched in 2019.

“I really fell in love with the band immediately,” D’Amato said. “The first meeting we had, I think there were about 20. I had known quite a few of them through other experiences.”

Since then, she has been a regular at YF&R meetings. She was elected secretary and fundraiser in 2020 before being elected president this year.

Its YF&R chapter has focused on giving back to the community, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

“Just as the pandemic happened, we were trying to find a way to give back, and more specifically in the food security aspect,” D’Amato said.

Napa County YF&R was referred to Mission Farm, a 2.5 acre organic farm run by volunteers from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Napa. All food goes directly to the Napa County Food Bank, D’Amato said, adding that the farm is keen to expand. So YF&R stepped in.

“We were able to get our group involved on Saturday as regular attendees,” she said, “and this year also we added Thursday night.”

Her favorite thing about YF&R is “definitely networking,” she said.

Napa County is unique in that “almost all of us grow wine grapes,” D’Amato said. “At least 90% of us work in some aspect of the wine industry. It’s really nice to know other farmers who are going through the same thing as me and discussing really typical topics like weather or soil profiles – what do you see in the field? “

(Kevin Hecteman is associate editor of Ag Alert. He can be contacted at khecteman@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit should be given to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this article.


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Vineyards in the region occupied by the harvest, festival season | https://dsharma.org/vineyards-in-the-region-occupied-by-the-harvest-festival-season/ Sun, 24 Oct 2021 23:30:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/vineyards-in-the-region-occupied-by-the-harvest-festival-season/ Pennsylvania produces two million gallons of wine, the fifth largest in the United States, from 300 wineries with an economic impact of $ 1.4 million each year, according to the Pennsylvania Wine Association (PWA). The wineries in the area are as busy as they are year-round, and the wineries are wrapping up Pennsylvania Wine Month. […]]]>

Pennsylvania produces two million gallons of wine, the fifth largest in the United States, from 300 wineries with an economic impact of $ 1.4 million each year, according to the Pennsylvania Wine Association (PWA).

The wineries in the area are as busy as they are year-round, and the wineries are wrapping up Pennsylvania Wine Month.

“It’s incredibly busy from early September through October,” said Tom Stutzman, owner and founder of Red Shale Vineyards in Hegins, which operates a satellite store in Danville.

Picking the grapes and crushing them, and participating in the many wine festivals have kept him and his wife, Denine, and their workers extremely busy.

“We just picked the last of the reds,” Stutzman last week.

Take care of the vines

Shade Mountain is a larger operation, with 70 acres planted with vines. Karl Zimmerman, the founder, was initially a traditional farmer, but he was always ready to explore new options. When he read an article in the “Lancaster Farmer” encouraging farmers to try planting grapes on sloping land that is not good for other crops, it got him thinking, according to his daughter, Jenny Nicola .

At first Karl grew grapes for others, but then he and his wife, Carolyn, decided to start the wine business 21 years ago. Now their four adult children, their spouses and even their grandchildren are part of the exploitation. Jenny is a manager, and she and her sister Amy are in charge of the stores and marketing. His two brothers, Bill and Ben, run the “vines and vats,” and Karl and Bill, father and son, are the main winemakers.

Shade Mountain uses all of its own grapes to produce over 50 varieties of white, red, blend, sparkling and specialty wines, ranging from dry to semi-sweet to sweet, said Nicola. They sell their surplus grapes to other Pennsylvania winemakers.

Shade Mountain has won numerous awards in PWA competitions. Among the winners are their Cabernet Franc and Lemberger, both dry reds; their “005”, a blend of five dry red wines; Shade Mountain Red, a semi-sweet; Jack’s Mountain Red, a sweet wine; and their Chardonnay, a dry white wine.

Jenny Nicola said she shared her father’s firm belief that “quality wine comes from the quality of the grapes in the vineyard”.

The Zimmermans cultivate over 35 varieties. Some are local grapes, like Concord Niagara, but many are more difficult to grow European grapes like Chardonnay and Cabernet.

“Cabernet Franc is one of our main grape varieties,” said Nicola, and these are being harvested.

White grapes are ready to be picked as early as late August, but reds, and especially Cabernets, could stay on the vine until early November, she said.

“We measure the sugar content with a spectrometer to decide when to harvest,” Nicola said.

Many of their wines use Cabernet, alone in their dry Cabernet Franc, but also in blends like “005”, in blush wines, and in their popular Grinch Grog, a Christmas wine that can be served hot or chilled.

Multi-step process

Growing grapes is a multistep process, Nicola said, and much of it has to be done by hand. The vines grow for 3 to 4 years before producing grapes, and during this time they should be pruned into just two main stems in early winter, then trained as they begin to grow in the spring, then pruned again to late spring and summer to promote air circulation and allow the sun to ripen. Wine growers need to know what they’re doing and spend hours in the field, “it’s a labor of love,” she says.

Nicola learned vine growing and wine making from his parents, from reading and from other winemakers.

“There is a lot of trial and error involved,” she said. “You have to learn what works for you and what customers want. “

The choice of which grapes to grow has a lot to do with the climate. Nicola and Stutzman both mentioned that Pennsylvania is very similar to Germany in terms of latitude and climate. According to Nicola, this part of Pennsylvania is more suitable for growing red grapes than the Finger Lakes, where it’s colder and frost comes too early.

According to the Wine Association, Pennsylvania is close to Europe in terms of climate, with hot summers and cold winters, which benefits grape growth better than places like California or Florida.

Stutzman said growing Concord and Niagara grapes is easy here, but European varieties like Chardonnay, Merlot, and Zinfandel are more difficult. Pennsylvania also has a lot of humidity, which makes Pinot Noir grapes difficult to grow. Stutzman said he was grateful that Cornell had developed many “nice grape varieties” suitable for Finger Lakes. These varieties grow well here too, he said.

Rain, birds can cause trouble

Weather can cause problems at harvest time. Rain can split and rot grapes. It also makes their picking more difficult, as machines cannot get into muddy rows. Shade Mountain harvests about half of its grapes by hand and the other half by machine.

Another challenge, said Nicola, is the birds, which love to feast on grapes. Gewurztraminer grapes are especially popular, so they should be covered with a net. Shade Mountain also uses recordings of predatory birds in the fields to ward off starlings.

Both wineries also produce sweet fruit wines. Especially popular is the elderberry wine from Red Shale. Elderberry has medium sweetness, Stutzman said, unlike most other fruit wines, like strawberry and peach, which are “quite sweet.” Mulberry and black raspberry are other less sweet fruit wines.

Stutzman made his first wine at the age of 18, and in the mid-1980s he took a trip to the Erie region to buy grape juice for making wine. In 1997 he started his first vines on a plot of land that had red shale in the ground, hence the name Red Shale Ridge Winery. He crushes and presses part of his grapes on the day of picking, but the reds need to be fermented on skins in stainless steel containers to age. “I don’t bottle them for four years,” he said. “Some people prefer a woody flavor, so I sometimes add toasted oak chips to the mix.”

Both wineries offer tastings at their Danville / Riverside locations. Shade Mountain is open seven days a week at 53 D&H Avenue in Riverside, and visitors can sit on an outdoor patio along the tracks or upstairs in the loft. Red Shale Ridge is open at 450 Mill St. Wednesday through Friday, 12-6, and Saturday, 12-5.

Stutzman himself often runs his shop in Danville, offering free tastings of up to five wines per person.

Shade Mountain and Red Shale are official stops on the Columbia-Montour Wine and Witches Trail which runs October 23-31. Visitors receive a Halloween stamp and treats at each of the ten wineries they visit and are eligible for prizes. The ten stops stretch from Danville to Benton.


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Vineyards in the region occupied by the harvest, festival season | New https://dsharma.org/vineyards-in-the-region-occupied-by-the-harvest-festival-season-new/ Thu, 21 Oct 2021 09:30:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/vineyards-in-the-region-occupied-by-the-harvest-festival-season-new/ Pennsylvania produces two million gallons of wine, the fifth largest in the United States, from 300 wineries with an economic impact of $ 1.4 million each year, according to the Pennsylvania Wine Association (PWA). Two wineries, Shade Mountain Vineyards, of Middleburg, in the old train station in Riverside, and Red Shale Ridge Vineyards, of Hegins, […]]]>

Pennsylvania produces two million gallons of wine, the fifth largest in the United States, from 300 wineries with an economic impact of $ 1.4 million each year, according to the Pennsylvania Wine Association (PWA).

Two wineries, Shade Mountain Vineyards, of Middleburg, in the old train station in Riverside, and Red Shale Ridge Vineyards, of Hegins, at 450 Mill St. in Danville, have opened stores in the Danville area, although their facilities production are 30 or several kilometers. Satellite stores are the only out-of-town extensions for each business.

Right now – October is Pennsylvania Wine Month – it’s harvest time at both wineries.

“It’s incredibly busy from early September through October,” said Tom Stutzman, owner and founder of Red Shale Vineyards.

Picking the grapes and crushing them, and participating in the many wine festivals have kept him and his wife, Denine, and their workers extremely busy.

“We just picked the last of the reds,” he said last week.

Take care of the vines

The cellar has two hectares of vines which must all be cared for and harvested by hand. To supplement what he grows himself, he buys juice and grapes from other producers in Pennsylvania to make his wines.

Shade Mountain is a larger operation, with 70 acres planted with vines. Karl Zimmerman, the founder, was initially a traditional farmer, but he was always ready to explore new options. When he read an article in the “Lancaster Farmer” encouraging farmers to try planting grapes on sloping land that is not good for other crops, it got him thinking, according to his daughter, Jenny Nicola .

At first Karl grew grapes for others, but then he and his wife, Carolyn, decided to start the wine business 21 years ago. Now their four adult children, their spouses and even their grandchildren are part of the exploitation. Jenny is a manager, and she and her sister Amy are in charge of the stores and marketing. His two brothers, Bill and Ben, run the “vines and vats,” and Karl and Bill, father and son, are the main winemakers.

Shade Mountain uses all of its own grapes to produce more than 50 varieties of white, red, blend, sparkling and specialty wines, ranging from dry to semi-sweet to sweet, Nicola said. They sell their surplus grapes to other Pennsylvania winemakers.

Shade Mountain has won numerous awards in PWA competitions. Among the winners are their Cabernet Franc and Lemberger, both dry reds; their “005”, a blend of five dry red wines; Shade Mountain Red, a semi-sweet; Jack’s Mountain Red, a sweet wine; and their Chardonnay, a dry white wine.

Jenny Nicola said she shared her father’s firm belief that “quality wine comes from the quality of the grapes in the vineyard”.

The Zimmermans cultivate over 35 varieties. Some are local grapes, like Concord Niagara, but many are more difficult to grow European grapes like Chardonnay and Cabernet.

“Cabernet Franc is one of our main grape varieties,” said Nicola, and these are being harvested.

White grapes are ready to be picked as early as late August, but reds, and especially Cabernets, could stay on the vine until early November, she said.

“We measure the sugar content with a spectrometer to decide when to harvest,” Nicola said.

Many of their wines use Cabernet, alone in their dry Cabernet Franc, but also in blends like “005”, in blush wines, and in their popular Grinch Grog, a Christmas wine that can be served hot or chilled.

Multi-step process

Growing grapes is a multistep process, Nicola said, and much of it has to be done by hand. The vines grow for 3 to 4 years before producing grapes, and during this time they should be pruned into just two main stems in early winter, then trained as they begin to grow in the spring, then pruned again to late spring and summer to promote air circulation and allow the sun to ripen. Wine growers need to know what they’re doing and spend hours in the field, “it’s a labor of love,” she says.

Nicola learned vine growing and wine making from his parents, from reading and from other winemakers.

“There is a lot of trial and error involved,” she said. “You have to learn what works for you and what customers want. “

The choice of which grapes to grow has a lot to do with the climate. Nicola and Stutzman both mentioned that Pennsylvania is very similar to Germany in terms of latitude and climate. According to Nicola, this part of Pennsylvania is more suitable for growing red grapes than the Finger Lakes, where it’s colder and frost comes too early.

According to the Wine Association, Pennsylvania is close to Europe in terms of climate, with hot summers and cold winters, which benefits grape growth better than places like California or Florida.

Stutzman said growing Concord and Niagara grapes is easy here, but European varieties like Chardonnay, Merlot, and Zinfandel are more difficult. Pennsylvania also has a lot of humidity, which makes Pinot Noir grapes difficult to grow. Stutzman said he was grateful that Cornell had developed many “nice grape varieties” suitable for Finger Lakes. These varieties grow well here too, he said.

Rain, birds can cause trouble

The weather can cause problems at harvest time. Rain can split and rot grapes. It also makes their picking more difficult, as machines cannot get into muddy rows. Shade Mountain harvests about half of its grapes by hand and the other half by machine.

Another challenge, said Nicola, is the birds, which love to feast on grapes. Gewurztraminer grapes are especially popular, so they should be covered with a net. Shade Mountain also uses recordings of predatory birds in the fields to ward off starlings.

Both wineries also produce sweet fruit wines. Especially popular is the elderberry wine from Red Shale. Elderberry has medium sweetness, Stutzman said, unlike most other fruit wines, like strawberry and peach, which are “quite sweet.” Mulberry and black raspberry are other less sweet fruit wines.

Stutzman made his first wine at the age of 18, and in the mid-1980s he made a trip to the Erie region to buy grape juice for making wine. In 1997 he started his first vines on a plot of land that had red shale in the ground, hence the name Red Shale Ridge Winery. He crushes and presses part of his grapes on the day of picking, but the reds need to be fermented on skins in stainless steel containers to age. “I don’t bottle them for four years,” he said. “Some people prefer a woody flavor, so I sometimes add toasted oak chips to the mix.”

Both wineries offer tastings at their Danville / Riverside locations. Shade Mountain is open seven days a week at 53 D&H Avenue in Riverside, and visitors can sit on an outdoor patio along the tracks or upstairs in the loft. Red Shale Ridge is open at 450 Mill St. Wednesday through Friday, 12-6, and Saturday, 12-5.

Stutzman himself often runs his shop in Danville, offering free tastings of up to five wines per person.

Shade Mountain and Red Shale are official stops on the Columbia-Montour Wine and Witches Trail which runs October 23-31. Visitors receive a Halloween stamp and treats at each of the ten wineries they visit and are eligible for prizes. The ten stops stretch from Danville to Benton.


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California wineries use owls instead of pesticides https://dsharma.org/california-wineries-use-owls-instead-of-pesticides/ Wed, 20 Oct 2021 18:14:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/california-wineries-use-owls-instead-of-pesticides/ Winegrowers must be very careful with their soil, rain, heat and sun. But rodents like ground squirrels and mice can wreak havoc in a vineyard. Rather than turning to rodenticides to deter pests, graduate students at Humboldt State University in California are testing a more natural approach using owls. The experiment is part of a […]]]>

Winegrowers must be very careful with their soil, rain, heat and sun. But rodents like ground squirrels and mice can wreak havoc in a vineyard. Rather than turning to rodenticides to deter pests, graduate students at Humboldt State University in California are testing a more natural approach using owls.


The experiment is part of a long-term research study under the direction of Professor Matt Johnson of the university’s wildlife department. The current cohort, comprising students Laura Echávez, Samantha Chavez and Jaime Carlino, has sporadically placed around 300 owl nesting boxes in the vineyards of Napa Valley. They document the impact of using owls to deter and control pests rather than rodenticides.

Researchers surveyed 75 Napa Valley wineries, and four-fifths now use owl nesting boxes and notice a difference in rodent control. Barn owls have a four-month nesting season, during which they spend about a third of their time hunting in fields. A barn owl family can eat up to 1,000 rodents during the nesting season or about 3,400 in a single year.

So far, graduate students have found that barn owls in vineyards reduce the number of ground squirrels, but not mice. They are also evaluating the impact of owls on voles, but this is inconclusive at this time.

But the most important part of the study is whether or not the presence of these owls led to a decrease in rodenticide use in Napa Valley. Since January 2021, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation has placed stricter limits on the use of rodenticides, which can kill birds and other animals that eat rodents poisoned by rodenticides. These pesticides cause horrific deaths from internal bleeding in rodents that ingest them.

The researchers say most of the wine growers in their study no longer use rodenticides since adding birdhouses to their properties. But it’s not certain that relying on owls will reduce pesticide use in Napa Valley. A recent study found that among farmers who grow wine grapes in Napa Valley, about 80% use nest boxes and about 21% use rodenticides.

“Whether the use of barn owl cans caused this reduction in rodenticides is of course not proven,” Johnson says Bay Nature. “Nevertheless, this result is encouraging.

Farmers have used owls and other raptors to hunt rodents for centuries, but modern chemical pesticides have taken precedence over natural methods in recent times. In an effort to leave less of a negative impact on the environment, farmers around the world are relying on raptors for pest control, rather than toxic pesticides. Birdhouses are appearing in agricultural fields in the United States, Malaysia, Kenya, and Israel to help naturally eliminate rodents that destroy crops.

In Napa Valley, birdhouses aren’t the only tactic for creating more sustainable farmland. Winegrowers also try to minimize water consumption and plowing. They also plant perennial grasses between rows of grapes, as this can reduce soil erosion and improve nutrient and carbon cycling.

Yet there is still a long way to go to improve sustainable agriculture, including in the wine industry. Napa Valley has over 40,000 acres of vineyards and only 3,800 acres are certified organic. With the increasing use of nest boxes, it is hoped that farmers will rely on these more natural methods rather than rodenticides.


Barn Owl: Secret Saviors of Napa Valley Wineries

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