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Drinking organic
Three Hoots is an organic direct-sales vineyard

It has become nearly impossible to find a wine maker that does not have, or claims to have, an aggressive strategy for sustainability, carbon footprint reduction and a slew of organic practices.

For some, that message becomes an integral part of the wine’s label — generally in the form of celebrating vineyard predators that feast on vine eating pests or grape stealing varmints.

While my general advice is to avoid “animal” labels, there are some tasty critter labels worth your attention.

Most recently, I stumbled on direct sales vineyard Three Hoots. The family of premium wines stands solidly behind its devotion to the Barn Owl, which feasts on destructive gophers and eliminates the vineyard’s dependency on chemical solutions.

After all, wine grapes are mirrors of their terroir — soil, sun, water — and adding chemicals will ultimately affect the flavors of the grape — and the wine.

I like that the labels depict the barn own as a wise and respected creature — and don’t reduce it to a cartoon version of itself. The website ( includes beautiful video about the owl program and does a stunning job of telling the wine’s story. As in many wine business models, Three Hoots sources grapes from top rung Napa vineyards. It has focused on Cabernet, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Pinot Noir.

The vineyard’s Owl Club offers discounts and shipping deals — and depicts profiles from many of its members. On about my third visit to the site, I stumbled on a video of former Savannahian Michael Gottlieb, now chef de cuisine in New Orleans. In the video, Gottlieb says he’s writing a cookbook from his family’s long–time Savannah bakery — stay tuned for more.

Other wines that feature natural vineyard pest control labels include:

Predator Zinfandel: I wrote about his luscious, heady Zin a few weeks ago — it celebrates the unrelenting nature of the ladybug to seek and destroy aphids and other insect pest. Apparently, the ladybug is the honey badger of the vineyard.

Ladybug Red or Ladybug White: These blends from the venerable Lolonis wine making family are economically priced blends that are fun to drink and enjoyable. The Lolonis family was among the first in California to adopt ladybugs, as far back as the late 1950s. After almost 50 years, the practice is effective and, according to the Lolonis family, it altered the grapes’ taste within the first three years of abandoning chemical treatments.