Harvest is off to a relatively slow start this year, though I expect that to change pretty soon. As Paul told you last week we’ve brought in a few blocks of Pinot Noir, some for Lucienne and some for our Noir Blanc, but we’re still waiting on the majority of our fruit in the Santa Lucia Highlands to achieve ripeness. The funny thing is that while we’re a little behind in our SLH vineyards, we appear to be a little ahead in Paso Robles. I predict we’re going to receive a lot of fruit all at once, but we can handle it.
Our falconer, Kathleen Tigan, is back, and it’s a good thing because the bird pressure is intense this year. Starlings love grapes and have a sixth sense about when they’re getting close to ripening. The falcon doesn’t hurt the birds, just scares them away. But Kathleen has noticed the starlings aren’t behaving the same way this year. Usually, they stay away for a couple of days after the falcon comes out, but recently they’ve been coming back after only a few hours. Are they hungrier this year? It’s hard to say, but since she can’t fly her falcon 24/7, Kathleen has been using additional methods to keep the birds at bay. In addition to running her dog in the vineyards, she uses whips that make a loud “pop” when she snaps them, which scares the birds. She looks like Indiana Jones out there!
By the way, have you ever seen – or heard – a flock of starlings? I live in a rural area and was out with my kids the other day when one came over the property. There must have been 1000 birds in that flock, and we could hear them coming. The noise was amazing. (No wonder a group of starlings is known as a ‘murmuration.’) And it looked like a giant, undulating alien ship overhead when they flew over. Of course starlings aren’t harmful to humans, just vineyards. All I could think was thank goodness for Kathleen and her falcon.
Director of Viticulture