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Netting the Reds at Aurora Cellars

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The growing season at Aurora Cellars is in full swing and our fruit is coming along very nicely! There are many important steps taken to grow and protect our fruit before it is harvested and that includes putting nets around some of the vines to protect the fruit.  Join us as we take a look into how we do it in our vineyards and learn a little more about the practice. 

At Aurora, our vineyard crew uses an RTV that has a vertical bar with a platform at the bottom. The rolls of net used in the vineyard sit on the platform and unwind while the RTV is driven up and down the rows of vines. One crew member operates the RTV while other crew members walk along the vines and hook the net over the fruit zone – the area in which the fruit is growing on the vine. Sometimes the sections will be stapled together to hold the netting tight.

There are a couple of different types of nets used in vineyards. These include:

  • Overhead Vineyard Netting – An alternative used for protecting crops against birds in a full enclosure system. This option allows harvesting and crop management without exposing your fruit.
  • Vineyard Lay-Over Netting – This type of netting protects the vines from insects, birds and hail. 
  • Zone Netting – This is a netting panel that goes along the side of the vines with reinforced edges. It is designed to protect the fruit from wasps, large insects, hail and bird pecks through damage.

The type of netting used in the vineyard at Aurora Cellars is zone netting. 

Vineyard Manager Nick Florip explains that the animals that we are worried the most about getting the fruit off the vines are birds and deer. When it comes to raccoons, they can reach under the netting and get the fruit if they really wanted to. 

“There is a possibility of the fruit being damaged from animals with the nets on but having the netting greatly reduces [the chances of it happening],” says Florip.

Typically, only the red varieties receive netting since they tend to hang later into the season. But in some areas, our vineyard crew will hang nets on our Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay vines, depending on how long into the season the fruit will be hanging on the vine. 

Aurora Cellars Co-Owner Sam Simpson explains that another purpose for netting the grapes is to protect our investment. If animals get into the fruit, there is a potential of diseases spreading to the vine from the broken berries. One way to look at it is this: You can get about 190 cases of wine per acre of vineyard. Even if we can save 30 cases per acre, we are still able to save money in the long run without having to treat diseases.

Netting vines is a practice that not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of our vineyards but also contributes to their overall health and productivity. By providing support and structure, we can also maximize our yields of fruit.

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