Free Range, Grass Fed Vines

Everything here is so clear, you can see it
And everything here is so real, you can feel it...
Grazin’ in the grass, can you dig it?
— Friends of Distinction

One of the more exciting things we are doing at Karma Vista is experimenting with the conventional wisdom of what vineyards should look like. We have eliminated herbicide, or weed spray use on the vineyards completely.  Instead of a bare strip of ground underneath the vines, we have grass all the way up to the trunks.  If you look at the vineyards with fresh eyes, the beginner's mind, you begin to realize the folly of spraying poison in the root zone.  What could possibly go wrong with that? Right?  Weed sprays became all the rage sometime around the 50's when we decided that hoeing and mowing was too much work.  Better living through chemistry and all that.  Those strips of bare ground underneath the vines and trees became the definition of what good horticulture looks like.  The grower would decide what would live and what would die on his land. You are the master and the soil is your servant.  Bare ground meant there was no competition for moisture for the trees, vines and fruit and everything would be bigger and healthier.  Unfortunately, there is nothing natural about bare ground.  A bare strip of ground should be cause for alarm.  There is something causing the ground to be barren.  There is no life in the soil.  Nature abhors a vacuum.  Even nastier, more pernicious weeds pop up in the bare soil, so you spray again, often with even nastier more pernicious chemicals.  What could possibly be wrong with that?  Right?   So just for the heck of it (and to drive all the university experts added bonus), we've decided to just deal with the grass rather than the weeds.  After all, we are caretakers of the whole thing, not just the vines.  It's about the soil, the space between the vines, the whole vineyard ecosystem we are called to take care of.  It is a lot more work than blissfully driving around spraying poison in the root zone, but the vines look happy and the wines taste great.  Unlike our vineyard buddies on the West Coast, we have the embarrassing problem of having way more water than what we need.  The grass underneath will help wick away much of that moisture and leave our hillsides intact.  When the fall comes and we hit the real rainy season, less of the moisture will be drawn up into the grapes which will make them stay smaller and sweeter.  We like to think that at Karma Vista we are on the cutting edge of doing nothing. Can you dig it?!