Observing Vineyards in Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma

I’ve been observing vineyards in Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa counties for the last couple weeks. I’ve noticed that many of the Sonoma and Napa vineyards have few weeds and some look well manicured. In Mendocino I’ve observed quite a different scene. Vineyard rows were filled with what appeared to be weeds. However on closer inspection one discovers cover crops such as fava beans, grass, and flowers just to mention a few. These vineyards are organic. Organic vineyards present a different scene than vineyards treated with Roundup or other weed killers.

One of the ideas behind organic vineyards is to try to create an environment where the plants can add nutrition to the soil and attract insects to the vineyard. Fava beans are a good source of nitrogen affixing to the roots. When tilled into the soil the nitrogen is available to the vineyard. The plants in the rows between the grapevines add to the soil enriching it. These plants also attract diverse insect populations. The diversity of insects makes it difficult for any “bad” insects to get a hold in the vineyard.

Organic vineyards may appear weedy, however they are more alive and healthy than many beautiful-looking vineyards that have applied poisons. What do you prefer to look at?

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