Few wine drinkers are in the market for Cabernet Sauvignon with hints of asparagus or green pepper — herbaceous or "green" characters prompted by overly vigorous vines. Fewer still want utterly tasteless wines that have been drained of their flavors by spider mites.
In the vineyards of California's North Coast, consultant Zach Berko-witz's clients know that their wines will inevitably tell the tale of how their grapes were grown. During his three decades of advising grape growers, Berkowitz has learned that some pest management methods favor flavor while others put it at risk.
Berkowitz, who calls himself a "first-generation farmer," earned a degree in plant science from the University of California-Davis in 1980. Long committed to sustainable production, he says what he learned there about integrated pest management "immediately struck a chord." Now working with 10 or more growers and 1,500 or more acres — mostly in Napa and Sonoma counties — he tries to encourage beneficial organisms to keep production systems in balance while he manages for superior wine quality.
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