Portfolio Naples April 2018 - Page 36

SHAFER 3 0 YEAR S OF SUSTAINABLE FARMING irty years ago each of our vineyards looked as clean as a pool table: not a blade of grass, not a weed, no sign of bird or insect life, just knobby vines were sticking up out of the soil. “e only way to achieve that super clean look was by using heavy duty chemicals,” says Doug Shafer. “We realized it was the wrong direction.” It meant tainting the soil with rodent poison to kill gophers, spraying potent herbicides to kill unwanted foliage, applying pow- erful insecticides to vanquish pests such as the blue-green sharp- shooter, and by relying on chemical fertilizers to feed stripped-down soil. Today we are 100 percent solar powered, we reuse and recycle our water, make our own compost for fertilizer. We partner with owls, songbirds, hawks, bats and other wildlife to cultivate successful vineyards and rely on cover crops to help control insects that would otherwise blight our vines. 34 PORTFOLIO MAGAZINE