I have been selling bird netting for vineyards for more than 10 years and I have yet to find a vineyard manager or owner who enjoys applying vineyard netting. And of course no one would spend money to buy vineyard bird netting (even at Wilson Orchard & Vineyard Supply’s low prices) if they felt they had a viable, lower cost alternative.
And yet these same vineyard managers use vineyard bird netting year after year. Why?
Here’s the sequence of events that I have seen played itself out countless times over the years. (I’m telling you this so you can skip the first few items, which entail years of reduced crop volumes and diminished wine quality, so you can skip right to the end!) You’ll notice that the key word here is “realization.”
1. Realization by the vineyard owner or manager that crop loss is causing a significant, measurable loss of yield
2. Attempts to use an array of partial control measures – from sound cannons to falconry – to alleviate the problem… and the (often not discussed) reliance on fatal shooting
3. Realization that these methods do not provide adequate control
4. Realization that for most bird species fatal shooting is a) completely ineffective as a means of reducing crop loss, b) illegal under federal law
5. First purchase of vineyard bird netting
6. Initial frustration with installation, followed by a steep learning curve so that installation becomes very fast & easy (this is especially true of Wilson Orchard & Vineyard Supply’s knitted vineyard netting)
7. Realization that the netted yield is much larger than expected (which is followed by the corresponding realization that pre-netting crop loss due to birds was much bigger than estimated
8. Realization on the part of the wine maker that the netted grapes have few off flavors than need to be overcome by expensive chemical processes in the winery (which is followed by the corresponding realization that pre-netting off flavors were caused by bacterial and fungal pathogens harbored by bird-pecked grapes – in other words, the grapes that birds peck and leave behind are more costly than the ones the eat completely)
This chain of realizations – from “we have a problem” to “wow, now that I have solved the problem with vineyard netting I realize the problem is a lot worse than I thought it was” is what why vineyard managers who try bird netting keep on buying it year after year.
So no, no one enjoys buying and applying bird netting (as much as Wilson Orchard & Vineyard Supplies tries to take the pain out of both). But vineyard and managers sure do enjoy the larger-than-expected yields and absence of off-flavors.
The only downside? Using bird netting means you’ll need more picking tubs and gondolas!