Our wine grapes here at Lange Estate are delicious. You can’t really blame anyone (birds) for wanting to eat them, but if they’re eaten before they hit the crush pad, we can’t make as much delicious wine. And to the best of my knowledge, none of the grape-gobbling critters (birds) out there have ever paid a meal tab.
We like birds most of the year, but the tune changes come Fall. One of the telltale signs of harvest is the sound of bird cannons, firing at intervals across the valley. Emitting noise like a gunshot, these are designed to scare freeloading birds from vineyards, so they don’t devour the crop. Other humane, non-lethal methods include the BirdGard distress-call system, owl decoys, owl balloons, netting, metallic streamers, and my new favorite: a rousing combination of RTV, horn, and both cracker and whistle shells.
Everyone around the valley this harvest has reported heavier-than-usual bird activity. Apparently, the winged gluttons are waiting to migrate until their bellies are full of Pinot Noir. Here at Lange Estate, we usually get by with our trusty BirdGard system. This year, however, we’ve upped the ante with automatic cannons, and those oh-so-fun cracker and whistle shells, which to me, mimic the sound of an M-80 firecracker and Whistling Pete bomb, respectively. I had to laugh yesterday when I spotted (and heard) Ben tearing down vineyard rows in the RTV, incessantly honking the horn while firing shells.
Our Estate Mia Block and North Block were harvested today, so the flocks will eventually be forced to find their next feast. It won’t be long before our ears stop ringing and we resume usual rapport with our feathery fiends … er, friends.