In our vineyard, we try to remain as organic as possible and add Biodynamic practices to our viticulture program. So far, if it were not for the one fungal disease, Black Rot, for which there is no organic treatment, we would have been able to maintain an organic vineyard. Even though we cannot apply for organic or Biodynamic certification, we still believe in the benefit of such programs so we apply their farming practices to our vineyard. We try to hold on to our eco-friendly ideal while balancing the reality of the situation and the desire to end up with a crop! The French have a term for this “reasoned struggle,” La Lutte Raisonée. This seems a perfect description for us. The philosophy feels authentic and realistic.
What are the components of an environmentally sensitive vineyard? We emphasize biodiversity by planting cover crops and perimeter flowers, fruit trees and a small vegetable garden in the vineyard grounds, all providing habitat for beneficial insects (and healthy snacks for the workers). We use our sheep at designated times to graze the vineyard floor, thus weeding and fertilizing our low-nitrogen soils. We add Biodynamic compost to the soil. We have bee hives for pollination and are adding chickens and guinea hens this season to feast on the insect pests. Bluebird houses and Martin houses are there to help with the bugs as well. We keep our conventional sprays to a minimum and then use only the “softer” of the sprays to combat Black Rot. We also know that keeping the vineyard clean and proper leaf canopy management is essential to keep the air moving around the leaves and grapes, thus lessening the fungal disease pressures.