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Our Commitment to the Vineyard: It All Starts Here

Every vineyard, every grape type, every location is different, of course. And for Warren, who will see his 19th harvest this fall, that means knowing and understanding 1,600 acres of wine grapes. The grass you see growing down some of the rows is called a “cover crop” and can actually be one of dozens of different types of plants. Selecting the right cover crop depends on what the vineyard needs.

“One of the main purposes of using a cover crop is to adjust vine vigor,” explains Bogle viticulturalist Bibiana Guerra, “vines can grow too much, producing grapes that are not as concentrated or flavorful as we want. Cover crops compete with the vines and use nutrients and water that the vines would otherwise soak up. This helps us manage the vine growth and the quality of the grapes.”

“On the other hand,” Warren says, “sometimes you want to improve soil texture or composition, so for instance, you would plant a cover crop that might impart nitrogen into the soil.” Discing the cover crop under at the end of the season also helps, by adding organic matter to the soil like mulch. “Every field needs something different, and not only does that change from variety to variety, but year to year as well.”

Fine tuning this has taken many years, but the family has been using cover crops since the very beginning, even if unknowingly. There is a tale that involves the first 10 acres of Chenin Blanc and Petite Sirah planted in 1968. The 3rd generation farmer, Warren Bogle, apparently didn’t like the idea of waiting around three years for grapes to grow and be harvested from the vines, so he planted corn in between the rows of wine grapes. He did this so he could harvest something off the land while he waited for the grapes to mature. Unfortunately, we don’t have a picture of that first cover crop, but we sure wish we did!