Why Biodiverse Vineyards Matter
Spend any amount of time with winemakers and you will undoubtedly hear about the effects of climate change. Between late-season frosts, violent storms, fire and unprecedented drought, their profession often sits on the frontlines of the issue.
In order to stave off disaster while maintaining the quality of their wine, producers are increasingly turning to nature for answers. Biodiversity not only creates the natural checks and balances to keep a vineyard healthy, it also can help provide better tasting grapes for the winemaking process.
Baked into biodiversity is a sort of insurance policy against maladies and massive climate swings. For instance, allowing a variety of cover crops between the vine rows can attract different insects to the vineyard while regenerating soil nutrients and keeping ambient temperatures at ground-level cooler during the day. Preserving forest around the vineyard can also act as a "cool air reservoir" that releases at night, a process that can help preserve acidity and aromatic compounds in ripening grapes. And let's not forget about the genetic diversity from one vine to the next within the vineyard. Rather than planting row upon row of the same genetic clone, growers can guard against massive die-offs from pests and extreme weather events via massal selection.
Certainly, it is not a path without its bumps. Biodiversity can also mean added labor costs, as well as welcoming unwanted visitors that can reduce a vineyard's yield (birds and deer love easy pickings!). But by fostering the systems of biodiversity to a net positive, producers can build resiliency in their vines and endurance in their business.