Shamrocks in the Vineyards and Other Green Rites of March

March came in smiling this year in Sonoma County with much sunshine and bright green grass on the hillsides.  The vineyards are still dormant, but I am beginning to see more clover (shamrocks) as a cover crop between my vines.  If you weren’t aware, many vineyard owners plant specific plants between the rows to protect the soil from erosion, to improve soil fertility, and regulate vine growth. Common cover crops include not only clover, but winter peas, mustard, oats, and fava beans.

Besides shamrocks in my vineyard, the month of March brings St. Patrick’s Day which is held in reference by college students across the nation as a great day to party.  Thus when I accidently scheduled my mid-term exams on St. Patrick’s Day this year, there was a rather loud uproar from some students.  However, when I reminded them the exam would only last 30 minutes and they would be getting out of class early that day, this appeased most.

I also love St. Patrick’s Day and anything to celebrate being “green” and “sustainable.”  Therefore, this month’s wine quote comes from Paul Dolan, CEO of the Mendocino Wine Company, the first carbon neutral winery in the US.

“Like children, vines need a good environment and nutrients to grow.  Our responsibility as wine grape growers is nuturing the environment so the vines and grapes can express themselves.  Adopting sustainable winegrowing practices makes this happen.”

Paul Dolan, p. 91, How to Launch Your Wine Career

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