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Propane Cannons in Napa Valley Vineyards

So a bit of good news from Napa Valley today. Unlike so many stories that I’ve talked about over the years when it comes to rules and regulations, the board of supervisors in Napa passed a new law, that seems to may have made everyone happy. Normally among the three groups of interested parties (grape growers, wineries and people living in the valley especially those not working in the wine trade) there’s never a way to make everyone happy. Don’t get me wrong, the rule isn’t helping those with young kids……but listen or read on to see how Napa Valley changed the lack of regulation in regard to propane cannons being used in Napa Valley vineyards.

Video Transcription:

Hi all Mark Aselstine and no bottle of wine today just a quick note so we had a major compromise this week with the City of Napa and really napa county on the whole.

So one of the biggest issues that’s kind of occurring at this point is we’re getting close to the raisin the reasons the point of the growing season where Veraison on the vines turned from green to darker it’s one fruit it’s one sugar starts being out into the berries and as you might expect if you’ve ever had a fruit tree in your backyard the birds take notice pretty quickly.

So the compromise was really this so for a lot of places in Napa especially southern Napa you have trees that are protected parts of the environment and then so you have these birds that live in the trees and they’re comfortable kind of going down and grabbing stuff off of the lines that are right underneath the trees where they’re living whereas if it’s an open vineyard they’re not going to find their ways all the way into the middle, so over time you know people have tried to put out boxes in they try to encourage other kind of predatory animals to live in the vineyard and it kind of keeps the birds at bay but it doesn’t solve the problem.

So of course they’ve tried other things that after that and a propane cannon is one of those and it is exactly what you think of so the thing can be kind of motion sensored the thing can go off at a set time interval and it really it sounds like there’s a gun going off in the minute and the idea is to scare the birds off so they can only eat for a minute before they have to fly away and start over again as opposed to kind of eating every last berry often single vine.

So really for a lot of people that aren’t kind of growing grapes or even just living in the region the issue then became these things are going off all night and can’t sleep and so the Napa board supervisors which has long had issues kind of bringing growers, non growers wine producers kind of these three groups that you don’t think we’d necessarily be at odds at all times, but they kind of often are especially in terms of the growers and producers.

You don’t think they would be at odds but that’s where the real drama often lies and so the rule they set up these these rules that basically say that they’re going to limit the amount of times these cannons can be shot off from 30 minutes before sunrise to three hours after and then likewise at sunset so really you know nothing in the middle of the night and so they do there’s this kind of law I would say almost ancient when it comes to the wine industry Napa Valley agricultural preserves set of rules that exist and so they were able to use some of these rules to protect natural habitats to also protect people that live in around Napa Valley and they said that you know these can’t be going off at night you have to move them around every three or four days so their birds don’t focus only on your neighbor’s property etc etc.

You know I think the one thing that I would say that was almost shocking to me as somebody could kind of pay attention to this stuff is that residents who don’t own vineyards walked out of there saying this was a good compromise and vineyard owners and growers walked out of there saying this was a good compromise so hats off to the Board of Supervisors and Napa you guys did good on this one and you know some of us are more shocked than others.

Once again their propane cannons in the vineyard that is a definite thing if you come to Napa Valley during harvest obviously along time by that point because tourists don’t want to hear the things being shot off it’s especially a big problem with Pinot grapes which tend to grow in such a way that they’re more accessible for birds and and so carneros is kind of the southern region that shared between Napa and Sonoma and it’s also a region where there are less vineyards per capita ie there’s more people actually living there so it becomes kind of this pressure point area where the wine industry is coming together with actually normal folks who are living and working in an agricultural region so a good compromise on vineyard cannons and it’s something to watch it’s actually maybe even a better sign than you think it is for the long-term health of Napa Valley.

If they can keep kind of these three groups of people all happy and living together so once again Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures not directly tied to a wine of the month club shipment today but thought a little piece of good news from Napa Valley would be warranted.

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