At DANCIN Vineyards, sustainability is not just a “feel good” word, it’s woven into the fabric of who we are and therefore is a natural extension of what we do. Our Bottom Line? Be a steward of the land who is totally accountable to future generations.
We believe that one of the keys to sustainability is not to react haphazardly to issues that present themselves in the vineyard. We have been taught, and experience confirms that if you maintain an overall healthy vineyard and surrounding ecosystem, nature will resolve most issues that arise in due course. We understand and appreciate the role of nature’s natural assistants; the birds, insects, and animals and the role they play with keeping things in balance…naturally.
At DANCIN Vineyards, we have twenty-five resident chickens whose diet consists mainly of fresh local organic feed, fresh cover crops and water. These chickens are hand held on a daily basis and reside (after daybreak) in open bottom mobile chicken coops, known as chicken tractors that we move through the vineyard rows several times throughout the day. The chickens assist in the vineyard by helping to manage insect pest populations, leaving behind manure in the process, which is rich in nitrogen, a benefit to the vines. They also provide amazingly sweet brown eggs each morning that will be available for sale in the Tasting Room, another aspect of sustainability! And quite frankly, believe it or not, they make pretty cool pets too!
We also sow a new cover crop each autumn throughout our lower eight blocks consisting of Austrian winter peas, fall cereal ryegrain, crimson clover, annual ryegrass, vetch and buckwheat. At our much steeper upper block we have sown a mixture of perennial ryegrass, creeping red and hard fescues with micro clover. These cover crops attract the insects that are beneficial to our vineyards. By late spring or early summer, we gently incorporate alternating cover crop rows along with the chicken manure into the soil, which provides an organic fertilizer for the vines. Throughout the growing season, we mow (on a very high setting) the cover crop and allow the clippings and additional “chicken-made” fertilizer to work its way into the soil naturally. And the process is repeated the following autumn.We have built owl boxes to encourage residency for owls to use while they are hunting for ground squirrels, moles, and gophers during the overnight hours. In addition, we have installed bat houses, which assist with keeping the nocturnal insects in balance. Our vineyards are located in a natural setting that attracts hawks, particularly red tails who are regularly seen on our vineyard end posts or fence posts perched and on patrol for those mammals who are pests in the vineyard. We have also maintained native forested areas around and between our vineyard sites, which provide a natural habitat to birds, insects and animals that assist with biodiversity and balance.