Long Island’s 1st Vineyard is not for the Birds

Alex Hargrave established Long Island’s first winery back in 1973. Today the winery is named Castello di Borghese, but the owners face the same problem as in the beginning: it’s man vs birds.

The North Fork winery estimates that it loses 15% of its crop every year to robins, starlings, thrushes and sparrows. But the winemaker believes that the pests have been banished forever from the winery.

They’ve accomplished that by turning the vineyard into what looks like an enormous open air discotheque. There are strobe lights flashing on the ripening bunches of Cabernet Sauvignon, silvery ribbons of plastic glinting in the sun above the rows of Chardonnay and heart shaped plastic balloons floating near the Sauvignon Blanc.

They’re all for the birds who seem to enjoy disco lighting considerably less than socially active singles do in the nearby Hamptons. The winery believes that the flashing lights confuse the birds and they pass harmlessly by en route to someone else’s unlighted vineyard.

While the lights work well at night, in the daylight, strips of plastic mylar reflect the sun, having the same effect as the strobe lights. This may have been a worldwide first in bird control and it’s all because of the creative thinking of Alex Hargrave.

(The above article is reprinted from a radio broadcast first emitted on WELI in New Haven.)


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