Diane Dillon and the Napa County Board of Supervisors have honored Spring Mountain Vineyard with a proclamation outlining the winery’s leadership in integrated pest management.
The estate was similarly honored in March with an Innovator Award by the California Environmental Protection Agency.
Spring Mountain is one of only three wineries honored with an Integrated Pest Management Innovator Award since the program began. It was selected for its leadership in adopting innovative and environmentally-friendly ways to deal with pests in vineyards and for sharing this knowledge with other vintners and growers.
Sustainable winegrowing and responsible stewardship at Spring Mountain have been primary goals not only to preserve the land and the eco-system, but to enhance vine health and wine quality.
Spring Mountain’s methods, developed in collaboration with University of California scientists, include the use of beneficial insects and birds in the vineyard management practices, thus eliminating the use of herbicides and insecticides.
Vineyard Manager Ron Rosenbrand, who accepted the proclamation, said the privately-owned wine estate has been opened to U.C. Berkeley researchers for vine mealybug and native bumble bee and bee studies, to U.C. Santa Cruz for bluebird studies, and the Napa County Resource and Conservation District for numerous erosion control studies and research into soil particulates in streams for fish habitat.
Rosenbrand gave a special thank you to Napa County Agricultural Commissioner Dave Wittmer who, in 2006, allowed Spring Mountain Vineyard to control vine mealybug with an aggressive bio-control program rather than county-mandated insecticides. Working with U.C. Berkeley, Rosenbrand and his staff experimented with many different insects. Through various trials, it was determined that two insects are effective: Crypotolaemus, a beetle commonly known as the vine mealybug destroyer, and Anagyrus, a parasitic wasp.
Spring Mountain’s regimen controlled the spread of the vine mealybug, and is now being copied in vineyards around the Napa Valley and other parts of the state as an effective alternative to insecticides.
The estate’s “no herbicide, no insecticide” program also has eliminated the possibility of worker exposure and contamination to these chemicals, and demonstrates that these “natural” practices are economically sound.