You can't make great wine from shoddy fruit. One of the benefits of owning a small, hand-tended vineyard is that you can do many things to improve fruit quality, and hopefully that shows up in the wine. Just go look at other vineyards, and you almost always see weeds/grass growing right up to the grapes' trunks. Not mine. I work hard to keep the "vinerows" weed-free and mulched.
Heavy rains aside, I've been weeding and mulching the Epona vineyard this week. First, I weed each row by hand, then spread mulch from the trailer, by hand. The ground is so wet that even on a rare sunny day, it is making bubbling/leaking sounds, probably relating to the little passageways carved underground by the earthworms. The mulch helps the grapes in many ways: it prevents weeds that compete for nutrients; it holds moisture in the soil on hot sunny days; it keeps the soil cool on hot days, which the roots like; it eventually decomposes and adds nutrients to the soil. The mulch would last for 2-3 years if it weren't for the moles, which throw huge piles of dirt on top of the mulch (the moles are after the worms that I'm trying to grow--the worms are the big secret in an organic vineyard). I've tried metal mole-traps--they occasionally work and are a big pain to set correctly. I've not tried the shotgun-shell traps. I have tried using road flares to fill the mole tunnels with sulfur gas, which sometimes makes the moles leave for another home.
But the best mole-trap is one invented many millions of years ago: It's this thing called a "gopher snake" ;) . I was lucky enough to see the back half of one, here, once, as it desperately fled me into a big logpile--I said, "You cannot be a rattlesnake--no way, not here." So I researched what those rattler-like splotches were, and the answer was clear: Gopher snake! They have all my best wishes and support. I am fairly sure they are active in my vineyard, even though I've never again seen one. I know this because many other nearby places have thousands more mole mounds than we have. I know why other places don't have gopher snakes: Those other property owners are killing animals, including snakes, with inorganic fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides. Just go organic! and let Nature help you.
We also have a few black racers, but 99% of our snakes--and we have many thousands of these--are garters, which eat many bugs but alas can't control moles. 80% of the garter snakes are "yellow-stripes," and about 15% are "red stripes," and 5% are "blue stripes"--vivid teal-blue stripes and I can prove it ;)
(Photo credit of non-venomous, "scaredy-cat" gopher snake (and doesn't it look a bit like a rattlesnake?): desertusa.com)