We were wandering around in the Stonewall vineyard, in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County, where Estancia Estates carefully grows some of their Pinot Noir grapes. They had just finished harvest and were still tending to the vines in preparation for Winter and the coming Spring. It was awesome to be out in the vineyard learning about some of their sustainable practices and the machinery used to make their lives easier.
Vineyard Manager, Jason Melvin, described some of the things that they do before the vines go dormant for the Winter. One is to do a last fertilizing as a “root flush” so that the nutrients will be at the ready when the Spring comes. Another is to keep a native grass cover crop to protect and feed the soil throughout the year.
As we stood in the vineyard, we watched their tractor going through the rows, trimming under the surface of the soil in an effort to keep out some weeds. They have this specially designed tractor attachment that cuts an inch or so under the dirt between each vine to get the weeds. It very carefully moves along and the little mechanism senses where the vine is as it cuts along. This is much more efficient than weeding by hand and much better for the environment than using chemicals to kill the weeds.
Check it out: