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Farmlife + Wildlife

Farmlife + Wildlife

Douglas Gayeton for Lexicon of Sustainability

Farmlife + Wildlife

Location: Medlock Ames Winery, Healdsburg, CA

Featuring: Ames Morison

Medlock Ames works with nature rather than against it by acknowledging the presence of animals and respecting their habitat. By doing so he allows both the vineyard and the surrounding wildlife to thrive.

Ames utilizes the sheep’s natural love for eating weeds to clear beneath the vines each year. Without sheep, a weed that dies and falls on the ground takes a long time to decompose and return its nutrients to the soil. If that same weed passes through the gut of a sheep, it returns its nutrients to the soil immediately and adds much greater soil fertility.

Winter is the dormant season here. When Ames prunes he has to carefully consider how the vine will develop 1-2 years out.(These are split-second decisions for an experienced pruner, but this quiet time in the annual cycle of the vineyard, sets the tone for this very important work.)

From the animals’ point of view, the wildlife corridor provides unimpeded access to food, water and much larger habitat: the 3,000+ acre Pepperwood Preserve just to the East. From Ames’ point of view this means that they won’t have hungry deer invading the vineyard as it allows them to pass through the expansive preserve without issue.

Medlock Ames protects the wildlife here by creating a balance between the vineyard and the surrounding natural habitat. If every acre of this vineyard was planted there would be no habitat for wildlife. These beasts would be forced to invade the vineyard...with negative consequences for all. By carefully preserving and promoting natural habitats, Medlock Ames works with nature, rather than against it. Hawks roosting in nearby trees and rattlesnakes in the rocky hills keep rodent population under control. Wild boar forage and root on hundreds of acres beyond the vineyard. And deer use wildlife corridors instead of exploring the vineyard.