We absolutely have to get our bird netting on the grape vines this week.
The grapes have been turning purple very quickly and are getting sweeter by the day. That whole process of ripening is known as veraison in the winemaking world. But for me and the neighborhood birds, it’s just plain ripening.
The birds are starting to sample the grapes and I can tell more fruit is missing every day. They are not eating a lot of grapes just yet. Even though the grapes are becoming a deep purple color, they are still not sweet enough. Birds start eating grapes when the sugar content reaches about 15 percent. Grapes need to be around 22 percent in order to make wine. A little simple math tells us the grapes will be long gone before they ever get sweet enough to make wine or even grape jelly for that matter.
Really, the only way to keep birds from decimating a grape crop is to install a barrier so they can’t reach the fruit. That’s where the netting comes in. This year we invested in new, premium polypropylene bird netting. The netting is 14 feet wide and 45 feet long — two panels will cover the row.
We unroll, then drape the net over the vines. Then we fold the bottom edges up and fasten it back on itself to enclose the entire grapevine.
Once we get the vines covered and they are protected from the birds, we’ll be able to taste test the grapes at our leisure and pick them once they have sweetened up to our liking.