SIP Certified sustainably farmed vineyards and wines speak to the farmer’s commitment to protecting both natural and human resources. Growers and winemakers recognize that mindful fruit production and care for workers’ well-being are important components of quality wine. The comprehensive rules for SIP Certification (known as Standards) address many interrelated elements of the whole farm system. Habitat conservation, energy efficiency, pest management, water conservation, economic stability, and human resources are some of the key elements of the program. The Standards look at the farm in its entirety: the worker, soil fertility, cover crops, wildlife, native plants, irrigation, and more. DAOU Vineyards and Winery is a SIP Certified Vineyard and employs many sustainable practices
The vines at DAOU Vineyards are watered only as necessary--stressing them to ripen and concentrate the fruit flavors. A pressure nitrogen bomb is used to measure the “blood pressure” of each block on a weekly basis to determine if the vines need water. On a typical year, watering may only be done for two weeks to make sure the vines do not shut down. This ensures we follow water conservation efforts in the county, as well avoid overwatering the vines. This is different from dry farming, as the vines are watered when they need it.
While pests can be a problem for any grower, DAOU Vineyards has relied on traps and natural predators to control the rodent population. A combination of barn owls and hawks monitor the vineyards keeping unwanted rodents away from the vines. At DAOU, we have over 30 barn owl boxes. Aimed at attracting barn owls, these boxes are placed throughout the vineyards, as the owls eat rodents, keeping them out of the vines. Raptor perches are also installed for hawks to sit and keep an eye out for any other birds attempting to get to the vines.
The DAOU hawk soars over the vineyards, keeping a watchful eye
Birds are also kept at bay during harvest season using nets over the vines.
In order to control unwanted bugs, various pesticides are used—however, only organic products are sprayed. Often, only the leaves on the vines will be sprayed, to avoid a large amount seeping into soils and the natural water system. In addition, spraying is only done once a certain threshold of pests is reached. After careful monitoring, only when a pest population has reached a point where it can do damage to the vines will a pesticide be sprayed.
The pesticides used are reduced risk products which target only a specific population. “Good bugs,” such as lady bugs, won’t be affected by these products.
Constant nutrient sampling is done in the vineyards. It is important to test soils from various blocks throughout the year to ensure the proper amount of nutrients is being delivered to the vines. DAOU Vineyards also uses “cover crops” to avoid erosion and put necessary nutrients back into the soil. Grass is planted in between rows of vines during growing season to act as a natural enhancer for the soil. This also helps with sediment run off, as it acts as a filter for dirt and other debris, keeping it out of the water system.
DAOU Vineyards cares about the environment, and employs these practices to not only help the vines, but the environment as well. Focused on the Best Management Practices (BMP), the vineyards are monitored closely year-round. DAOU relies on weather stations placed in the vineyard to monitor rain fall, wind speeds, temperatures, etc. to help determine what, if anything, needs to be done in the vineyards.
Becoming a SIP Certified Winery is about the overall system of farming. The combination of watering, pest control, and soil nutrition keeps the vineyard healthy. The vines have the ability to take care of themselves, if the vineyard is taken care of. The vines will be more likely to fight off any disease if they are healthy and taken care of.