The world continues to change. Here is proof.
As part of their sustainable farming practices, many California vintners recruit trained raptors and their handlers (falconers) to scare away the thousands of birds that descend each harvest to eat ripe wine grapes right from the vines. Many bird species enjoy the vineyard smorgasbord. Some will cleanly remove the berries (wild turkeys can consume the equivalent of a full bottle of wine in a single day), but others simply peck at the grapes to get at the pulp and seeds, leaving a damaged cluster that can harbor bacteria and fungal pathogens that can lead to off-flavors and textures.
For centuries, viticulturalists have relied on a cornucopia of creative methods to keep their vineyards from becoming an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Over time, however, birds acclimate to static scare tactics such as loud booming air cannons and balloons painted with giant eyes. Chemical repellants aren’t a good option either since they fail to meet growers’ sustainability standards. And bird netting is expensive and labor-intensive to install each year.
Falconry, on the other hand, minimizes crop losses, while treading lightly on the environment. Falcons are ferocious hunters that can see up to eight times better than a human, spot prey from more than 100 feet in the air, and dive at more than 200 miles an hour. The mere sight of a predator falcon or its shadow triggers smaller birds to flee or find cover. And no bird is complacent when a falcon is flying near them. Raptors leave behind no toxic chemicals, and they cost half as much as netting.Do you enjoy wines from the Mosel region of Germany? Winespeed has this to say:
The vineyards of the Mosel are the steepest in Germany and among the steepest in the world. Indeed, the expanse of vineyards from the village of Zelting to the village of Bernkastel along the Mosel River, is considered the longest stretch of near-vertical vineyards anywhere on the globe. Many of the top Mosel producers, including the three renowned Sonnenuhr—Sundial—vineyards are clustered in the middle section known as the Mittelmosel (middle Mosel). They are the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr, and Zeltinger Sonnenuhr.
The Mosel vineyards are also among the most northern vineyards in Germany, meaning that the sun is in contact with the vines for limited, precious hours each day. The total number of sunlight hours during the growing season is also modest (the Mosel gets, in a good year, about a third of the sunlight hours that Provence does). If fine wine is to be made, vineyards must be nothing short of perfectly sited, so that each ray of light and warmth is maximized. As a result, the Mosel’s vineyards hug only south-facing slopes. In addition, the best vineyards are quite close to the river itself, for even the reflection of light off the water becomes one more increment in the quest for ripeness.
The huge sundials that give the Sonnenuhr vineyards their names were built as far back as the early 1600s in the sunniest part of three excellent slopes, so that vineyard workers would know when to stop for lunch or for the day. Because the vines in the vicinity of the sundial also got the most sun (and made the richest wine), the areas around the sundials soon came to be considered separate vineyards. Today the Sonnenuhr vineyards are among the best along the Mosel.
On my very first trip to Europe in the 70s, the Mosel wine region was one of the first that I enjoyed visiting.
Karen’s (Winespeed) suggestions for wine and cheese pairings:
There seems to be no better pairing than wine and cheese. Here, Karen MacNeil explains the do’s and don’t’s of this classic duo.
Number 1: White wine and rosé are your friends—use their crisp, snappy acidity to cut through cheese’s delicious fat.
Number 2: Sparkling wine and a creamy cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Number 3: Hard cheeses, such as Manchego are like a good white shirt—we all need one. Hard cheeses go with almost everything.
Number 4: The funkiest cheeses that rarely go with wine? Washed-rind and blue cheese. While delicious on their own, they often do not do well with a glass of vino.
Number 5: Aged cheeses are the perfect companion for structured, bold reds.
For me, I enjoy a change of pace, so a single malt Scotch goes well with some cheeses. I also enjoy a rice cracker (Trader Joe’s) with a spot of cream cheese, and pepper jelly with my wine or cocktail.