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vested interest Print
Written by Nikitas Magel   

Salvestrin Team

NM:  So, to some extent, you're actually allowing some pests to stay on the vines as long as their prevalence remains below a level you've established as acceptable.  Given that, do you find that there are certain parts of the vineyard or even certain vines that tend to have significantly more or less of a pest prevalence?

RS:  If there's an area that has a bigger problem, for one reason or another, it's out of balance — and this is another feature of IPM — we would specifically treat, say, a corner near trees or other vegetation that might have a higher pressure of insects.  And we would want to look at that: if there are areas that have a different or higher concentration of pests, we treat those differently.  But we're actually fortunate here in that we have a very uniform vineyard; things are in relative balance.  We've been farming since 1932 and have been doing so sustainably all these years.  Over the last six of those years, we've been using certified organic practices and things are going well in that way.  We're not having to do anything other than preventative treatments for mildew.  We use no insecticide treatments because we have no insect problems.  Of course, there are insects here that are prevalent in most vineyards, but they're not at a population to cause us a problem that we would need to treat for.

Monitoring the Macro Climate: a Land Mass of Strength in a Sea of Change

NM:  Focusing now a bit more broadly, how have changes in the wine industry at large affected your own business practices, not only as a grower but as a winemaker?

RS:  Winemaking is a very popular venture.  And it has become more popular just alone in the last ten years, to the point where there is a lot of brands in the marketplace and a lot of competition for brand identity.  The real trick is to figure out how you maneuver through that, having to be a sustainable business — versus other brands that don't have as much pressure to be commercially sustainable.  There's been a lot of brands developed over the years that take attention in the market… and a lot of those are not — how shall I say? — they're not the primary source of income for the people involved.

NM:  I understand exactly what you're getting at.  You're trying to use your words very delicately, but I get it.  {laughter} Especially in Napa!  People have different priorities.

RS:  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

"It's not something that you can start one year and then the next year have all of this plus some fantastic product to bring to market. It takes years — often at least ten — before you can start to build something and see it really come to fruition."

NM:  When there's little or nothing — personally, professionally, or financially — riding on a wine-producing venture, it definitely changes one's priorities.

RS:  And the thing that makes this all so difficult for us is that it's a very long-term business.  We've got to really be strategic and plan years in the future, and that takes a tremendous amount of capital.  It's not something that you can start one year and then the next year have all of this plus some fantastic product to bring to market.  It takes years — often at least ten — before you can start to build something and see it really come to fruition.  Ten years in winemaking terms is a very short amount of time.  [During that time] you've haven't even figured out if your first wine is going to last twenty or thirty years.  And if you do taste a wine you made twenty year ago, now you've seen what it can do in that span of time — but what have you changed along the way to get to your current winemaking practices, and how long is that newly made wine going to last?

NM: Of the changes you have seen in the Napa Valley, as part of a family of longtime winegrowers, which are you pleased to see and which are you concerned about? And how have those affected Salvestrin?



 

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