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In the ongoing pursuit of sustainable solutions for managing our estate Margarita Vineyard, we frequently rely on Mother Nature’s critters and creatures to get the job done.
Indeed, we cultivate worms that provide the vermicompost for feeding our vines. We maintain raptor perches to attract birds for vineyard pest control. We plant cover crops in the vine rows that make a happy home for beneficial insects.
Another example is taking place in the vineyard right now as we have 35 goats currently performing vegetation management. These goats provide a perfect alternative to herbicide application when an area has become overgrown. Twenty of the goats are from the family ranch of winery co-owner Doug Filipponi, while 15 belong to vineyard manager Jaimie Muniz.
Here’s how it works: We roll out a small temporary fence around the target area and let the goats enjoy their grub. We also provide the goats with two dogs, Huey and Louie, to provide protection from coyotes and other predators. Huey and Louie are half-guardian dogs by blood, but their work experience is turning them into full guardians!
Once the target area is sufficiently thinned, we simply move the fence and herd to the next spot. This not only controls overgrowth, but also removes invasive weeds along the way without killing the vegetation with herbicide. This, in turn, provides a much better opportunity for native grasses to become re-established around the vineyard.
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