Farming practices to protect our grapes
Fall is a wonderful time at the winery. It brings many seasonal changes including shorter days, longer and cooler nights, and the start of harvest. This time of year is both exciting and busy for us at Fort Berens. We check the grapes daily because we are now in the final weeks for the grapes to ripen before they are picked. Each varietal of grapes ripens at different times, generally starting mid-September and running through until about mid-October.
While this time of year is exciting, it is also a challenging time because we face many risks from birds and wildlife, as well as weather changes. As the grapes ripen, they become sweeter and very appealing to birds, mainly starlings and crows, as well as deer and even bears. In order to protect the grapes, we employ common farming practices including the use of fencing, netting and air cannons. The deer and bears are kept at bay with our fence. The use of air cannons is intended to scare away the birds. While we wish it wasn’t the case, the birds are active in the early morning, throughout the day, and into the evening, so we need to start the air cannons early in the morning, generally at dawn, and we turn them off at dusk.
In addition to the birds and wildlife at this time of the season, we also need to deal with dropping temperatures. Frost damage is a real risk to the vineyard, so we utilize a wind machine to protect the leaves and grapes from frost. The wind machine automatically turns on during the night when temperatures drop below freezing.
We utilize common farming practices allowable on ALR land (Agricultural Land Reserve land) to deal with these situations. Because we are on ALR land, there are also exceptions to the noise bylaws for agriculture properties.
While our vineyards are located in the ALR, we are also close to residential properties and we know that the loud cycles of both the air cannons and the wind machines can be startling or upsetting to our neighbours, both humans and pets. We live on the property, and we understand the impact of these loud machines, both on our family and our family pets. We want you to know that we are continually assessing our situation to see what we need to do each day in order to protect the crops. We are trying to minimize the use of both air cannons and the wind machines, and we only use them when it’s essential to do so.
The good news is that this is a short term situation, and once harvest is complete, we can all look forward to the end of these noisy tools, all while knowing that another vintage of delicious wines is just around the corner.
We thank our neighbours and the Lillooet community for the patience and understanding, and for all of your ongoing support.