Gophers are troublemakers They damage the roots of our grapevines. Their tunnels make a vineyard stroll precarious with the risk of a sprained ankle. And their burrows channel winter rains leading to erosion.
Our solution is to encourage local owls to patrol the vineyard and keep the gopher population under control. We installed four owl boxes in 2006 and the little mound of gopher bones beneath each box leaves us pleased to provide residences to these nocturnal predators. Bill Murray would be proud.
Sustainability at Husch is an ongoing process that began in the 1970s. At that time vineyard manager Al White became concerned with erosion on our hillsides and concluded that a no-till groundcover would solve the problem. That process of making improvements continues to this day.
Our five goals are: 1) reduce erosion, 2) conserve resources such as water and fuel, 3) protect the natural ecosystems that border our property, 4) use organic applications whenever possible, and 5) preserve the legacy grapevines on our properties for future generations.
Because these goals can be in conflict with each other we adapt our practices for each field. For example, erosion is a much bigger concern on our hillside fields. With fields closer to rivers and creeks we want to avoid chemicals - even those produced organically - that are potentially harmful to aquatic invertebrates.
As a result, we have a patchwork of practices. Some of our fields are farmed organically. Most of our fields have a permanent cover crop. All of our fields are certified "Fish Friendly." And we take pride that our farming practices, as a whole, require a minimum use of diesel fuel for each acre we farm.