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Natural Solution to a Serious Problem

Vina Robles
November 2, 2016 | Vina Robles

Natural Solution to a Serious Problem

In Paso Robles, varmints such as gophers and ground squirrels are a continual nuisance in the vineyard. The gophers gnaw on the vine roots, weakening the plant and diminishing nutrient uptake, and sometimes even killing the vine outright. Meanwhile, ground squirrels will climb into the vines, eating new shoots at the crucial stages of development, and even gorging on the grapes later in the growing season.

One approach to controlling these varmints is to deploy traps and poisonous baits that require considerable manual labor and ongoing vehicle passes through the vineyard. However, a less-invasive and more sustainable approach is to encourage the presence of domestic predators such as owls and hawks.

By installing the owl boxes, we can attract barn owls to nest in the vineyard. The boxes also include a perch that attracts red tail hawks and kestrel falcons. The hawks and falcons patrol for varmints during the day, while the owls go hunting after dark.

We paint our owl boxes off-gray to minimize sunlight absorption and to keep the boxes cool. Each entry hole is facing north when installed so that direct sunlight will not penetrate the interior while the owl is nesting.

It is gratifying to implement a natural solution to a serious problem in the vineyard. We are proud to be SIP (Sustainability In Practice) certified. We continually focus on producing great wine, keeping vineyards healthy and maintaining the well-being of workers.


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