Critters In The Vineyard!

Bird netting saved most of the grapes

Marsha was frantic and ran to wake me up this morning. I was still groggy, so it took me a while to figure out that all the grape vines had been knocked down. We didn’t see what happened. Nobody and nothing was about. I think it was an animal, probably a raccoon though. I have bird netting over the vines, and that did two things – one good and one bad. The good thing was protecting most of the grapes. Whatever it was only got two small clusters. The bad thing was binding all the vines to each other, so that when one was knocked down, they all went down.

Pinot Noir cluster on 9/19/07. Black bird netting is clearly visible in front of the grapes.

As you can see in the above photo of a Pinot Noir cluster behind it’s protective bird netting, order was restored. I remember how surprised I was at just how many different kinds of bird netting there is but, as with most things, you can keep the birds out on a budget or opt for a higher end product. I opted for the affordable option.

Planning for the future: Bird netting on a frame and a temporary greenhouse?

One improvement I could make would be to string the netting on some sort of external frame, rather than draping it over the vines an I do now. As birds, raccoons, and other small animals try to get at my grapes, they would jostle the frame instead of the vines. That would make the vines much less likely to tip over. I’ve thought about building such a frame before; I could also hang plastic sheeting on it, turning it into an impromptu greenhouse, in early spring and late fall. That would extend the growing season a bit, and might allow me to experiment with grapes need a warmer climate.

Harvest time is almost here, in fact I may make a point of speeding up the harvest for the earlier varietals, and after that I’ll have all winter to think and plan.

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