In this guest blog post, Viticulturist Aaron Fishleder talks cover crops—one of an organic farmer’s most important tools!
Come springtime, there are more than grapes growing in our vineyards. In fact, if you’ve got a gardener’s eye, you’ll spot various vegetables and flowering plants growing between the vine rows. More than a source for your next salad or just a pretty view, these plants actually do a lot to get our soils—and vines—ready for a great harvest. Using these cover crops is one of the more important aspects of our organic farming program.
We use these extra crops for a variety of reasons, but the most important is to improve organic matter and nutrition in the soil. Plants such as bell beans, peas, vetch, and barley use seasonal rainfall and nitrogen from the atmosphere to grow and add biomass. Incorporating this blend into the soil adds nutrients important for vine development and increases beneficial microorganisms that help the grapes mine nutrients from the soil that would otherwise be difficult to pull out on their own.
Cover crops are also a great way to control pest problems in the vineyard. White sweet alyssum, California bluebell, and California poppy are three of the more than ten flowering plant species we plant to attract beneficial insects to our blocks. Since we started using this blend in 2007, the populations of problem insects have dropped off significantly. Radish and mustard are used to help control nematodes, a microscopic worm that feeds on grape roots—a common problem in many vineyards. When these plants are mowed and disked into the ground, they act as a biofumigant and release a gas that kills the pests.
So the next time you’re in the valley in spring, take a look around you and know that the bright yellow mustard, red clover, orange poppy and spiky, green barley plants are doing more than adding to the natural beauty of this region—they’re helping keep our vines healthy and resilient. And, as we know, healthy vines produce wonderful wine!
In anticipation of our annual Cave Collection release, we sat down with Winemaker Nicole Marchesi to talk about Far Niente's Cave Collection and the keys to making age-worthy Napa Valley Cabernet. Read on to hear what she has to say. Then mark your calendars for the January 17 release from Far Niente's Cave Collection. This year’s allocation is one of our most limited to date, with less than 100 bottles available for our most sought-after vintages.
"Each vintage is our opportunity to make our greatest wine. It's what inspires us in the vineyard and winery."LEARN MORE
Non-malolactic fermentation. Although the phrase doesn’t roll easily off the tongue, Chardonnays made without it certainly can. And it’s essential to our Far Niente Chardonnay house style.LEARN MORE
Meet Six Women Shaping the Far Niente Family of Wineries & Vineyards.
Two winemakers. One CFO. Two VPs. And the woman who helped launch Far Niente more than 40 years ago. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we sat down to talk with just a few of the women shaping the way we grow, make, sell and share our wines. From the cellar to the board room, these daring innovators and leaders share a passion for human connection and a sense of adventure.LEARN MORE