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Birds of prey slash pest damage at Caliterra by 30%

Published:  26 February, 2016

Chilean winery Viña Caliterra is celebrating the success of an innovative pest-control project in its vineyards.

The estate, which has pioneered sustainable practices in Chilean viticulture, suffered a range of damage to its vines caused by rabbits, rodents and other creatures.

To control the problem, it turned to natural selection for the solution.

The project, dubbed the Birds of Prey Programme, involved conserving and encouraging birds of prey on the estate by building nest boxes and feeders made of recycled materials.

A team from the winery studied the routes, nesting biotopes and hunting grounds for a range of birds, including eagles, hawks, vultures, kestrels and owls.

As a result of the study, 10 feeders and 15 nest boxes were installed. 

Since the programme was launched in 2012, damage to vines has decreased by as much as 30%, while the rabbit population has declined 18%.

Sophie Wren, brand manager for Caliterra, said: "The philosophy at Caliterra has always been to preserve the environment surrounding the vineyards and this project has proven extremely successful. 

"Caliterra is also currently developing an educational programme with local communities to generate awareness about the preservation of their rich flora and fauna."

Caliterra was established in 1996 as a joint venture between Chilean wine producer Viña Errázuriz and the Robert Mondavi family.

The estate extends for some 2,681 acres through the heart of the Colchagua Valley.

Viña Errázuriz bought out the Mondavi stake in Caliterra in 2004.

Its wines are available in the UK from Hatch Mansfield.