Weather & problems with wildlife have wreaked havoc on Southern Oregon varietals

on 19/10/10 at 11:08 am


Volunteers hand-pick grapes at Weisinger's of Ashland just after sunrise Saturday. Photo: Jamie Lusch

A damp, lingering spring and a late frost followed by a mild summer delayed Oregon’s wine grape harvest by three or more weeks this year. But even as a warm fall has boosted sugar levels, vintners have been plagued by another problem: hungry bears, deer and birds. Starlings and so-called cowbirds have picked away at the gewurztraminer, pinot noir and tempranillo grapes at Weisinger’s of Ashland.

“The birds have come by the hundreds, maybe the thousands,” said General Manager Robert Trottmann. “We’ve put up netting, but they’ve made a huge impact.”

John Weisinger, who planted his east-facing hillside vineyard 33 years ago, has recorded a nocturnal parade of black bears rummaging through his grapes with trail cameras.

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