Fun Fact Fridays: Cover Crops

Hey y'all.  It's Friday, or as I like to call it:  Fri-Yay!  The weekend is here, there's wine waiting for you for when you get home from work, or for many these days when you move from one room of your house that is your office to another room of your house that is not your office... hahahaha.   

I'm going to be starting some blog series, including one called Fun Fact Fridays.  This can be about anything related to the wine from growing grapes, to making wine to the finished product that we all love and adore.   So here we go!

If you are every around vineyards or really any farm for that matter, sometimes you'll see other "things" growing in between the rows or directly under the grapevines.  These are called cover crops.  

Every year that grapevines are grown, the vines draw nutrients from the soil.  Those nutrients need to get back into the soil so that the grapevines have all those delicious nutrients again for them the following year.  

Here's where cover crops come into play!

A cover crop is a crop you grow for the soil and can also come with some protection for the grapevine.  There are a variety of cover crops that have the unique ability to "fix" nutrients such as nitrogen from the atmosphere and return them to the soil, making them an incredible and useful helper to increase soil fertility without chemical use, yay!

Cover crops for grapevines also helps control weeds between rows (kind of like a battle to see who's the fittest!), they help prevent erosion especially on vineyard slopes and help retain and maintain soil moisture. 

Certain cover crops can also be little fighters again insects and diseases and help promote and maintain healthy amounts of beneficial fungi.

I would like to also mention that you will often not see cover crops in newly planted vineyards as it can be too difficult of a competition between young vines and the crop.  

Cover crops can look messy, wild and a little weird.  But we love weird, right? 

They're powerful tools to help make sure those grapes are the best versions of themselves come harvest, year after year.  

Types of cover crops include:

  • Alfalfa
  • Grasses
  • Legumes
  • Mustards
  • Rye (of various types)
  • Vetch 
  • & indigenous plant species growing in the area 

Here's a picture of rows of Zinfandel (yes we grow that and it's amazing!) at Covert Farms Family Estate in Oliver, BC.  

Rows of Zinfandel with cover crops growing underneath at Covert Farms Family Estate | Farm to Glass Wine Tours


So next time you see some grapevines that look a little messy or vineyards that look like they need a lawnmower, think to yourself, "Those grapevines got it going ON! Peace out weeds, bugs and drought!"   

If you'd like to see these particular vines pictured above, you can visit them on the Regenerative Roads | The Oliver & Osoyoos Tour.  

And all the wineries we visit on wine adventures with Farm to Glass Wine Tours does some form of cover cropping.   Because farming is the first step to great wine and I'm looking forward to guiding you from farm to glass.

And as always...

Be Kind, Drink Wine.

xoxo Jess




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