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North River vineyard cancels harvest after birds eat grapes

Goose Landing Vineyard
Goose Landing Vineyard - Contributed

NORTH RIVER, N.S.

A combination of late frost followed by a hot summer, and large flocks of hungry starlings has resulted in the grape harvest at Goose Landing Vineyard near Truro being cancelled this year.

“Normally, we double net because starlings go after the grapes, but we were busy with the distillery and weren’t able to do that this year,” said Jill Linquist who, with husband Al Bégin, runs the vineyard on their North River property.

“We had the harvest planned for October 6, but with the hot summer we had the grapes ripen early, and with volunteers harvesting, we couldn’t change the date quickly.”

Because of June’s frosts, only about 25 per cent of the crop was expected to survive. To protect the crop, they decided to use a non-toxic spray that humans can’t detect, but makes the grapes appear to be a colour birds don’t care for.

“We tried it and it seemed to work,” said Linquist. “It lasts six to eight days, so we sprayed a second time, but then the rain washed it away and the starlings came in.” 

After that, they decided to let people pick what they wanted for their own use.

“It’s disappointing, and it’s hard for Benjamin Bridge because we sell to them and they lost about 80 per cent of their crop.”

The crop will be protected with nets again next year.

Goose Landing Vineyard was established in 2011 and grows Frontenac blanc grapes.

Linquist is also president of the Raging Crow Distillery Inc., a small-batch, hand-crafted distillery that creates such spirits as brandy, rum, rye, gin and vodka, along with specialty liqueurs.

The distillery is also operated from their North River property.

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