Harvest Season: On a Wing and a Prayer

Have you ever tasted a glass of Pinot Noir and thought to yourself, “This wine is for the birds”?

Okay, probably not.

But if you ever had, you wouldn’t be too far from the truth—particularly during this rather late harvest season in that part of the winegrowing world.

According to the Statesman Journal newspaper, as the migratory birds of the Northwest head south for the winter, many have been stopping off at vineyards along the way and snacking on winegrapes.

A grape here and a grape there wouldn’t be so bad, but these birds apparently have voracious appetites, and there are lots of them.

According to the report, vintner Pete Buffington has been “on patrol” on a four-wheeler, scaring the birds away whenever he spots them. In 2010, the harvest on his property wasn’t completed until mid-November, and he says the amount of fruit brought in was down 12.5 percent. Obviously, he doesn’t want the same thing to happen this year.

“I came in to make phone calls this morning,” Buffington told the Statesman Journal, “and it cost me about 300 pounds of fruit.”

As if dealing with insects and vine diseases weren’t enough, growers also must contend with birds as the grapes inch their way to full ripeness. No grapes, no wine. It’s as simple as that.

So it’s easy to understand why many vintners think of those birds not as “migratory,” but rather as “predatory.”

Tomorrow on Vinesse Today: We’ll return to the Pacific Northwest for a preview of one of the region’s most anticipated annual wine festivals.

Posted in Wine Buzz
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