In the run-up to the harvest, when the grapes are already starting to become sweet and succulent, starlings descend on the vineyards in search of food. Scaring them off to prevent a loss of harvest is often difficult and costly, which is why starlings have been reducing our yield for years, by up to 20% for some grape varieties. The Gramona family had been using sound cannons and recordings of eagle cries, which, although reasonably effective, also disturbed the peace and quiet of the estate and the other living creatures that are so important to the wealth of the ecosystem. Another solution was to place bird scarers in the vineyards and this managed to deter the starlings at first, but they soon got used to them and the problem returned. Nor did covering the vines with nets prove to be very effective. It was therefore decided to add a new member to the family of creatures that already live on the Gramona farm: the peregrine falcon.
We bring some very young chicks of this local bird, which can easily be found in the Penedès area, to the house that we had specially built for them. There, using a very specific methodology, they are taught how to eat and fly. The falcons therefore begin to take their first flights near their home, i.e. flying over our vineyards. They then fly home, knowing that they will find food there. Meanwhile, when they sense or see the falcons, the frightened starlings stop coming to the vineyards and, therefore, stop eating the grapes.
After a month the falcons learn to hunt, so they no longer need to come home for food. They begin their adult life, and so their role as protectors of the vine is over.
Since these birds of prey have been flying over the Gramona vineyards during the ripening period, the loss of grapes has been reduced to 0.4%. This is quite an achievement and one that has had the Peregrine Falcon become our natural ally in the symbiosis of life in the vineyard.