Edelzwicker is Navarro's version of flowers in a glass. It is a mixture of three of our favorite grapes: Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris, beloved varieties from Alsace, the region that first came up with this tongue-twisting name. Next time you visit Navarro take a look at the various cover crops that adorn alternating vineyard rows. Glenn McGourty, Mendocino County Farm Adviser, advocates cover crops because they "protect the soil from erosion, regulate vine growth, improve soil fertility, improve soil structure and water holding capacity, enhance biological diversity in the root zone, provide a habitat for beneficial insects, allow for a firm footing for harvest and cultural operations as well as improve air and water quality." Navarro's cover crops vary with season and location. On flat land and weaker soils we grow fava beans, vetch and Magnus peas that have lots of biomass to till in as summer green manure. On steeper hillsides we are concerned about erosion; annual rye grass and chewing fescue form a living root mat under the vines and hug the soil.
Glenn McGourty (left) is the Winegrowing and Plant Science Advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Mendocino and Lake Counties. He has been a long time champion of planting cover crops in vineyards.
Bill celebrates the winter cover crop in the vineyard as well as his twenty-third year working at Navarro. Got a question? Bill's got it covered.
For new, young vines Jeff, Navarro's viticulturist, likes to use clovers, especially subterranean clovers because they are low growing, don't compete with the vines and are nitrogen fixing. Edelzwicker is as pretty as the flowering cover crop beneath the vines: intensely aromatic with a touch of sweetness and a bit of lime, it is the quintessential wine to envelop summer's pleasures.
Many beneficial insects are pollen eaters during part of their life cycle; flowers in the vineyard are an important food source for our tiny friends. Maintaining a diverse population of flowering plants in the vineyard supports a diverse population of insects.