Taking Care of the Planet
At Wild Horse Winery’s 50-acre estate vineyard in Templeton, California, we are committed to innovative winegrowing methods and sustainable agricultural practices that will maintain and enhance our vital natural resources for the long term. Water conservation, recycling practices and preserving nearby habitats are a core value of the Winery.
The Wild Horse vineyard is blessed with two underground water sources, the Salinas River water formation, located approximately 120-feet below the surface, services the winery and domestic uses of the property. The agricultural well, which draws from the 350-foot deep Paso Robles formation, supplies water to the vineyards.
The drip system on this vineyard is elaborate. Water is drawn from a reservoir into a sand filter system to remove potential emitter-clogging sediment and then delivered to the drip system, which is set up in five-acre blocks of the vineyard. A positive displacement pump for compost tea injection and fertigation is in line to the drip system. The drip irrigation system is typically put to use in June, as winter rainfall and frost protection runs provide ample soil moisture for early season growth.
Wild Weed Eaters
The Wild Horse Winery four-legged weed abatement program includes our llamas, named Floyd, Dolly, and Salvador Dali, who protect the weed-eating sheep herd.
Graywater is recycled in two aeration ponds. The aerators maintain a healthy aerobic bacteria digestion of winery wastewater. The recycled graywater is then combined with well water and used for irrigation of the vineyard property. This practice dramatically improves water usage efficiencies.
Clumps and Mounds
Wild Horse uses grape pomace — the combination of grape skins, stems and seeds left after pressing wine from the grape — mixed with manure to produce a high-quality compost material. Spread among the vine rows, this compost adds beneficial soil material while smothering weed growth.
Steeped in the Vineyard
Compost tea is brewed at Wild Horse for use in the vineyards. High quality compost is added to water, and brewed or aerated with other organic components. Application of compost tea to growing vines allows the beneficial microflora to out-compete undesirable fungi, such as powdery mildew.
Since the mid-1990s, Wild Horse has adopted a novel preventive measure against insect pests such as leafhoppers and mites that prey on vineyards. This method involves the aerial seeding of beneficial predacious insects. A remote-controlled miniature airplane carries the Insects — lacewings and predacious mites — over the vineyards and releases them to feed on the insect pests. The method has proven effective in limiting pest damage to crops and eliminating the need for and use of artificial abatement measures.
Cover crops provide a home for beneficial insects while controlling erosion and conserving soil. Nitrogen-fixing legumes and clover are cultivated in vine row centers, building nitrogen and biomass into the soil horizon.
Critters on Patrol
Owl boxes strategically placed around the property promote the habitation of nesting barn owls, which in turn, suppress gopher and rodent predation of the grape vines.