The Land

The Vineyard as Habitat

Preserving wildlife habitats is often an important consideration in vineyard development.  From planning for wildlife corridors to conservation easements, Lake County growers and wineries are working to preserve the beauty of our land and abundant wild life.

Cache Creek Vineyards - Blending Vineyards and Wildlife

Heard of elk at Cache Creek Vineyards

Bill brought in his youngest son, Don Van Pelt, to help with the vineyard project. Don carefully researched, planned, and meticulously prepared before planting the grapevines. In 1994, the first grapes were planted, and over time, a total of 74 acres were planted to several varieties—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Petite Sirah, and Syrah—with about half the acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. Keeping the vision of a wildlife sanctuary in mind, our family has maintained sustainable farming practices from the beginning.
In addition to planting vineyards, Bill and Don put a drainage system in the vineyard to channel the winter rainfall into several ponds around the property that serve as water sources for waterfowl, otters, beaver, wild turkeys, deer, and elk. They also planted a variety of grasses, establishing habitat that feeds the resident wildlife and attracts beneficial insect predators that help protect the grapevines. Owl boxes placed throughout the vineyard provide a natural method of gopher control. All these sustainable practices are healthy for the wildlife that call the property home and are equally beneficial for our vineyards and the grapes.

Other ways of preserving the land - Conservation Easements

Property owners can preserve their land for future  generations with a conservation easement.  Hear Kaj Ahlmann of Six Sigma Ranch talk about the conservation easement on the ranch.


Vineyards provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. Because they can feed on grapes and damage vineyards, some vertebrate species are considered pests and therefore undesirable. However, pest species may attract other more valuable wildlife that prey on them.

Vertebrate predators observed in and adjacent to vineyards include striped skunk, raccoon, gray fox, coyote, bobcat, and mountain lion. Vineyards with cover crops can be islands for wildlife on California’s agricultural landscapes. They are attractive to wildlife for the same reason that alfalfa is in the Sacramento Valley.

Cover crops and alfalfa are resource-rich and available to wildlife for many years. Cover crops and other non-crop vegetation in and around vineyards such as hedgerows, natural woodlands, and riparian flora that provide habitat for wildlife also serve to connect habitat patches on agricultural landscapes. In addition, numerous bird species found in vineyards provide benefits by feeding on insect pests. (California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, Chapter 8 Ecosystem Management,  page 12, Code Workbook, 3rd Edition)