A slow goodbye

I’ve put a lot of energy into my vineyard. I’m not even mentioning the money.

The vineyard has kept me sane. It has been my escape, my solice. Going up that hill and getting dirty and sweaty has helped me keep a mental distance from all sorts of negative things.

In its fourth year, it is starting to look like this project will not be a success. The vines grow fine and they bear fruit. The problem is the local wildlife.

Last year, my crop was decimated. The nets were shredded.

The same is starting to happen this year.

Things have been going nicely, despite the powdery mildew issues earlier in the season. I had successfully netted the vines, weeded and gotten the site looking good:

But less than a week ago, trouble started. I found brand new netting torn, canopies mangled and fruit stripped. This is either vandalism or raccoon damage:

I fixed the damage to the netting and applied pepper oil around the perimeter of the vineyard in hopes of deterring raccoons:

As this has proved ineffective, I am left with no alternatives. I cannot shoot or trap and relocate these vermin. They love grapes more than avocados, figs, peaches, apples and any other fruit people grow in their back yards.

You can’t have urban gardens and outlaw trapping and depredation at the same time. Something has to give.

If you want to hug and love wild critters that encroach on human habitat, you have to accept that your food will come from those evil agricultural behemoths who exterminate pests en masse. Even small farming operations depredate aggressively.

I’m going to try to salvage what fruit I can this year, but it looks like there will be no vineyard on Mt. Washington.


Afterthought, 9/27/2012: Some have said I overreacted to the damage. I don’t think I did. Nevertheless, I am willing to try a few other measures to keep the raccoons out of my vineyard. I’m afraid that this will cost a pretty penny.



Father, husband, physician, amateur guitarist, wine lover, wine writer, wine grower and wine maker trying to do it all within eye shot of downtown Los Angeles. http://www.shutupandmakewine.com http://twitter.com/Dr_Arthur_P
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10 Responses to A slow goodbye

  1. Stephen Ballard says:

    Get a dog, or borrow a friend’s dog that is accustomed to being outside at night. We have the same problem — the mammals chew through the fence, and the birds find a way into the netting. We were hit with frost this season and had a severely compromised crop, and the critters took what was left. I do feel your pain.

    • SUAMW says:

      Thanks, Stephen.

      Take a look at the videos: I am concerned that a dog would 1) get tangled in the netting and do more damage and 2) sneak out by digging under the fence. Additionally, this is not my property. It’s my parents’. I have very limited say.

  2. glenn says:

    Ther are anti Raccon electric fences which will fend off these pesky rascals! See Premier Fencing for one supplier of such protection.

  3. Kathy says:

    Sorry to hear about your vineyard problems. We have just a few vines but almost every year we lose them to persistent birds just before they are ready to harvest. While we don’t have raccoons, for years my dad had raccoons getting into his corn. He discovered that the raccoons did not like a certain type of music (jazz or rock) and set up a radio to play in the middle of the corn. It discouraged the raccoons quite well.

  4. Frightened Turtle says:

    If you use materials used in chain link fencing (lighter weight top bar metal poles with standard connectors and brackets (not sure if those are the technical terms) you can frame out your vineyard and enclose with 48 inch rolls of chicken wire. No more need to net in the summer. The vines can grow through the enclosure while the grapes hang inside. Its not conventional but…

    • SUAMW says:

      That is way more than I can do. I am contemplating removing 20 vines – one from each end of each row and putting in Mr McGreggor’s Fence with a solar powered charger.

  5. Pingback: Good Reads Wednesday « Artisan Family of Wines

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