A Hawk’s Eye for Wine
At Cooper Hawk’s Vineyard (CHV) in the Windsor-Essex tourism region the winery is named for one of the unofficial staff members.
Cooper hawks nest near the vineyards and patrol the fields around the winery. These crow-sized raptors are fearsome predators with a taste for birds like starlings and mourning doves. They rely on stealth to sneak up on prey and have been known to drown its catch before ripping it into bite size pieces. Knowing a Cooper’s hawk is in the neighborhood is enough to scare away birds that like to feast on the grapes.
Because the habitat surrounding the vineyard supports a healthy hawk population, Tom O’Brien, Founder and President of Cooper Hawk’s Vineyards, and his team does not need to place nets over the vineyard, something few wineries in the region can boast.
Wildlife doesn’t punch a time clock so to make sure birds think twice about visiting the grapes CHV staff have made recordings of the Cooper hawk calls and play them in the vineyard when the hawks aren’t around. They also have fake hawk kites that flutter above rows of grapes.
O’Brien and his staff like sharing their 70-acre property with birds. “I love wildlife!” O’Brien enthused. “We have planted over 7,000 trees. When we do (wine) tours people ask about the name. We encourage them to walk out (around the vineyards) and look at birds.”
Assistant wine maker, Anthony Miller, was an environmental scientist for more than ten years before he became a vintner. Now he shares his bird sightings with his boss. “He tells me we have some unusual birds,” explained O’Brien.
Judging by environmental ethic that includes installing solar panels and constructing a wetland, this is a winery that makes going to the birds part of the wine tasting experience. O’Brien observed, “When people leave the winery they are happy!”
To learn more about this bird-friendly winery click here.
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Originally published at Carol Patterson.