When Kathy Klopp of Klopp Ranch Vineyards in the Russian River Valley region of Sonoma found herself over-run with gophers in her vineyard and rats in her chicken coop, she introduced “vineyard cats” to patrol her property.
“We have 25 acres of vineyards,” reports Kathy, “and even though we have an owl box program, it was still an issue. We also had a problem with rats eating our chicken food. We didn’t want to use poison because we don’t want to harm the environment, so we called Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County and they helped us introduce two feral cats to our property. Happily, they have eliminated the rats from the chicken food area and barns, and we occasionally glimpse the cats with a critter from the vineyard in their mouths.”
Gophers, moles, and voles have always been a source of concern to Sonoma County grape growers as they often eat the roots of grapevines. Finding a safe and humane method to deal with the issue has always been a challenge. The introduction of feral cats to be vineyard and winery cats is a useful solution.
Bill Frick of Frick Winery, located in Dry Creek AVA, agrees with Kathy:
“I was having a problem with rodents in my winery barn,” he explains. “I didn’t want to use poison or traps, so when I heard about the opportunity to adopt feral cats I jumped at the chance. Now there is very little evidence of rodent activity. The cats are a great natural organic rodent control! One of them has become less shy and sometimes follows winery visitors from the tasting room to the parking lot. They seem to enjoy our winery cat.”
There just aren’t enough cat-related wine stories in the news, so I had to jump on this one, even though I have no more creative input other than to say cats are awesome, and every winery needs at least one. That’s all I have…