Practical Winery
65 Mitchell Blvd, San Rafael, CA 94903
phone: 415-453-9700 ext 102
&J Gallo Winery’s Sonoma vineyards received a 2011 Integrated Pest Management Innovator Award from the state of California. The state cited Gallo’s long history of IPM practices in the winegrape industry, and the company’s efforts to stay on the cutting edge of sustainability practice and worker safety, in the announcement.
Two Rock Ranch [photo] (between Petaluma and Cotati, CA) is Gallo’s southernmost Sonoma county vineyard with 382 acres planted to Pinot Noir (222 acres), Chardonnay (90), Pinot Gris (49), Sauvignon Blanc (14.4), Riesling (5.9), and Gewurtztraminer (3).
Vine rows are planted to various orientations. “The majority are east/ west. Some vine rows run at other orientations; somewhat northeast to southwest to fit the topography,” explains Jim Collins, senior director of coastal winegrowing.
Production is 4.5 to 5.5 tons of Chardonnay per acre and 4 to 4.75 tons of Pinot Noir per acre. Some vines have been removed from the 8 x 4 vine spacing, to be 8x8 in some heavier clay soils. Leaf removal on both sides of the vines begins at set, to achieve maximum sun exposure on the fruit
zone. Machinery includes a blower for quadrilateral-trained vines, and suck-and-cut machine for bilateralcordon vines. More leaf removal is performed at veraison, and postveraison if needed. The 2011 season required late-season leaf removal to control botrytis and powdery mildew.
Early-season powdery mildew control includes an oil application after budbreak. Fungicides are rotated through the growing season. For botrytis, leaf removal keeps pressure down, and Pristine was applied in 2011 on some blocks.
In 2009, Gallo converted a Spectrum sprayer into a two vine-row weed sprayer for winter herbicide application. The sprayer has an internal fan to blow weeds off the berm in front as it passes. The converted equipment reduces spray passes, and increases the efficacy of chemicals applied.
The PRiME (Pesticide Risk and Mitigation Engine) program measures pesticide use, runoff, and environmental impacts, and is being beta-tested at Gallo’s Sonoma ranches, with 2010 and 2011 data collected and loaded into the “engine” and new budgets created for Gallo management to review the effects of current spray
regimens and adjust accordingly. “Gallo is one of the first large growers to adopt PRiME, and its use of the system is allowing the PRiME team to make it more effective for other growers,” says Collins.
Falconry has been employed to prevent starlings from eating ripe grapes at Two Rock Ranch since 2006. The falconeer arrives in mid-August or at about 18° Brix each year, and works until late October when harvest is completed.
Two Rock Ranch has three raptor perches and six owl boxes for gopher control.
A pocket gopher study at Laguna Ranch began in 2009. Vineyard managers worked with the University of California to evaluate the best methods for gopher control, studying Rodenator, bait, trapping, and fumigation methods. Trapping and fumigation were determined to be the most effective methods.
“This is a partial list of practices we have worked to continuously improve, or where we have been innovators in our field,” concludes Collins. “We continuously strive to be leaders in this field, and to help educate other vineyard operators to be successful and sustainable at what they do.”