CASE STUDIES > Eco-Friendly Bird Repellents for Wineries: A Case Study
Eco-Friendly Bird Repellents for Wineries: A Case Study
Material used: Hot Foot InvisiNet exclusion netting (custom-sized to contractor's specs)
Hot Foot customized strip and net doors
Find out more about Hot Foot InvisiNet Exclusion Netting or contact us to learn how Hot Foot can help you get rid of pest birds for good.
Bird exclusion and bird deterrents are crucial for the wine industry. Not only do birds love eating the grapes, bird droppings make for an unwelcome addition to the vintage... Eco-friendly bird repellents are the best ways to ensure a contaminant-free operation.
It's a beautiful Saturday morning out on the balcony of an inn nestled in Napa Valley. There's a mist in the nearby hills which is starting to burn off already. Light breeze, sounds of the vineyards waking up, birds chirping.
Seems idyllic - but birdsong is a needle-scratch if it's your vineyard and your grapes the birds are chirping about!
In fact, birds damage thousands of tons of grapes every year. But it gets worse. The crush pads - the semi-enclosed area where vintners crush and de-stem the grapes - are perfect nesting and roosting areas for pest birds including finches and pigeons that invade the structure. Nests are built high up in the steel beams that support the ceilings and roofs, and their droppings and other contaminants splat onto walls, floors, and equipment below. This causes quite a problem at harvest. As you might imagine, bird fecal matter in freshly squeezed grapes cannot be tolerated.
That's why bird exclusion is so important for vineyards and wineries.
In 2015, Hot Foot America visited three wineries in Napa and Sonoma to help them find appropriate bird repellents and bird deterrents. The essential objective of this bird exclusion project was to prevent birds from nesting or roosting near the wine production process. This was tricky due to the high number of potential nesting and roosting areas. In the pictured crush pad for example, you can see sprinkler pipes for fire control, light fittings, pipes associated with winery operations, and so on. Not only did the job have to be done right to reduce ongoing costs associated with bird exclusion, aesthetics was very important.
Normally, Hot Foot Bird Repellent Gel along roosting areas would be enough to get them moving. This long-lasting gel works because it gives the birds the sensation of being stuck - much like sucking boots through mud. It's a feeling they hate, though it is totally harmless. But as effective as this bird deterrent is, the gel was not a practical solution given the area that needed protecting.
That's why we suggested our bird exclusion netting, perfect for enclosing whole areas and deterring birds from their old roosts. Our InvisNet knotless exclusion netting doesn't stretch or sag over the years like some inferior netting solutions. And since the InvisiNet system can withstand the harsh climate conditions including heat in the summer, freezing rain and snow in the winter, and high winds, it will be effective in the relatively mild climates of Napa and Sonoma for years to come.
As mentioned above, a prime consideration of these wineries was the final appearance of the net. Color selection and installation method were extremely important. The installation of the netting had to be done with considerable expertise in order to enclose as many of these fittings as possible while still allowing for future access when pipe maintenance, etc. was needed.
Another obstacle to be overcome was that the height of the canopies which were beyond the safe reach of ladders. To ensure safe access to the ceiling areas and to allow the workers to move around obstacles such as wine barrels on the floor, we used a high lift boom. Here you can see the boom with the articulating arm providing flexible access for even the trickiest corners.
What these photos don't show is the considerable prep work that was undertaken beforehand. Once the birds were shooed away, we thoroughly cleaned the whole area using an EPA-registered sterilizing agent that also contains a true odor neutralizer. Besides the fact it kills bacteria, mites, and other infections that can harm humans even after the birds are gone, birds are attracted by their own feces and nesting materials, and will try to return if the scent is still there. Cleaning the area to remove attractants is an important part of the bird exclusion process.
The end result of netting both canopies was nothing short of spectacular. When viewed from the ground the netting is totally invisible and stretched tightly to avoid movement in strong winds. Access panels have been cut to provide access to lights and fixtures, and structures below the netting such as sprinkler pipes and steel beams were treated with Hot Foot Repellent Gel.
The crush pad isn't the only area that requires bird deterrents. To protect the visitors in their tasting rooms, Hot Foot installed metal mesh to the balcony corners and painted that the same color as the woodwork. Spikes were installed in the high steel beams, painted black to further minimize visibility.
Other areas where birds present a major nuisance are on pipes, under catwalks, and on top of the wine storage silos. Hot Foot has come across all of these problems at other facilities and has a system that can take care of each and every possibility.
The photo below shows pipes that are supported by a steel framework. Previously, birds had nested in the steel beams and on the pipes themselves, so we enclosed the entire pipe with a raised netting system.
In the above photo you can see how we enclosed the catwalk and ceiling with a connected netting system to stop birds from roosting on the hand rails and under the walkway, fouling the areas below.
A series of storage tanks outside the facility created another great nesting area on their support brackets and even right on top. The solution to this was to enclose the entire series of tanks and install access doors at ground level for staff entry.
As you can see, these bird exclusion and repellent measures keep a very low profile - hardly noticeable, unless you're looking for them. Hot Foot provided a 100% effective bird deterrent solution that will protect these wineries for years to come.