With the concept of vineyard conservation in mind and utilizing all possible tools to achieve that goal, there are two under-the-radar methods of protection that we’d like to highlight, which are natural and have stood the test of time. We’re referring, of course, to the wide-eyed nocturnal predators of the night along with the delicately aromatic thorny bushes that you will surely notice on your next visit to the grounds of your favorite winery, introducing in that order, Owls and Roses.
Owls are known to hang out in trees and are not often seen moving about during daytime hours, but they are also widely employed by vineyard managers across wine country as night shift keepers of the grounds. The Owls live in strategically positioned nest box houses built above the vines. At night they emerge to hunt for agricultural pests that usually borough near the roots and snack on those precious grape clusters. Since these Owls get paid well in nightly prey, their eating of gophers, mice, and voles, may seem relatively insignificant, but their contribution is mighty. Ridding the vineyard of rodents allows vines to grow easier and means that wineries can reduce or eliminate poisons keeping the process and ecosystem cleaner and more natural.
A 2nd common insurance feature of the vineyard managers is their use of rose bushes planted around the property. Aside from looking fantastic, they can also be a winemaker’s closest friend. It turns out that grapevines and roses are susceptible to devastating diseases like powdery mildew, which, if infected, has a disastrous effect on the plants. Since roses have a high sensitivity to disease they are usually the first plants in the vineyard to show adverse effects. Rosebushes around the vineyard perimeter thus keep the winemaker alert to the infiltration of this terrible disease, taking the necessary action to save the crop before disease spreads.
Another reason you will encounter the beautifully floral rosebuds in the vineyards goes back to the old days before modern machinery was used to work the land when farmers used horses to plow between the vines. The rosebushes were planted as a navigation marker for the horses to signify the end of the vine rows. The brightly colored petals alerted the horses that this was the end of the row, and the thorns prevented them from cutting corners when they reached the end of a row, helping them from damaging the vines.
While grape growers are constantly striving to achieve perfect harmony and balance while maintaining a thriving vineyard, a lot can be placed on the backs of Mother Nature’s plants and animals. So as you can see, it makes sense for them to understand the importance of continuing the tradition and practice of keeping Owls and Roses on the payroll!