Vineyard Practices With a belief that the best quality wine starts in the vineyard, Blue Mountain uses several sustainable practices in the vineyard that continue the commitment to creating the smallest “footprint” possible. The overall goal for the viticulture is to produce the highest quality of fruit that is possible in the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan region is ideal for minimal input viticulture due to a very favourable climate. The extremely dry climate (average of 300 mm precipitation annually) leads to a minimum of disease pressure such as threats like Powdery Mildew or Botrytis. Pest pressure is also small, leafhoppers being the only threat. This all means that the need for chemical spraying is substantially low and has a minimal impact on the fruit. Several soil fertility concepts have been developed which are unique to the vineyard; diversification of cover crops and use of on-farm composting. Cover crops are used to: maintain a diversity of flora and fauna in the vineyard, protect the soil from erosion and compaction, and improve the overall soil fertility. The cover crop includes a selected blend of grasses, legumes and flowering species. The objective is to have a cover crop that is not too competitive with the vines for both nutrition and water resources. Composting of cow manure, wheat straw and winery marc is also used. Organic fertilizers are used to improve the nitrogen availability in the vineyard. A continuing evolution exists to determine the best fit for the local environment and management system. Labour intensive cultivation is required to obtain the highest quality of fruit that is available in the vineyards. Most of the plant work is completed by hand in the vineyard from suckering, shoot thinning, shoot positioning, and fruit thinning. The grapes are hand harvested to preserve the integrity of the fruit. Weed management is primarily obtained through mechanical operations under the vine. The series of actions includes hilling up and ploughing back under the vine. The timing is coordinated to minimize the number of passes required through the vineyard. Lower powered tractors are used to minimize impact on the soil.