Still Waters Vineyards’ Cover CropJanuary 12, 2019
Here at Still Waters, we are committed to maintaining our vineyard in the most sustainable, healthy way possible. We are proudly SIP certified- the wine/vineyard industry standard for sustainability. What this means is implementation of a variety of best practices in the vineyard to ensure our stewardship extends to our physical environment, not just making delicious wines. That includes an intimate knowledge of the vineyard cycle and implementing those best practices
One way we do this is planting cover crops. January is the perfect time to explore this practice and see vivid examples in our own vineyard. Soil is (obviously) a crucial component of the growing process. In order for the vines to grow, the soil needs to be healthy, well tended, and ultimately protected from the elements. A cover crop is an important technique used for soil protection and promoting healthy grapes for the future. We utilize a cover crop for a variety of reasons, but we are particularly interested in erosion control, gopher deterrents, we growth prevention, and increased water infiltration. A healthy cover crop allows our tractors to be able to access the vineyard, thanks to the added organic material strengthening the soil (the alternative is a muddy morass that will have you up to your ankles in mud come a rain storm!).
We utilize several different types of cover crops, however this year, Paul has chosen barley. Barley is planted in every other row, in alternating years. This helps encourage natural grass growth in the “off” years and all around, increases the vigor of the vineyard. Once the barley is about 2 feet high, we will mow and mulch is down into the row, to continue on the cycle. This is just one way that we implement SIP certified practices to minimize our environmental impact and maximize our vineyard health for delicious wine production!