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Barn owls have long been one of the secrets to Napa Valley’s world-class wines. Rather than relying on chemicals and pesticides, winemakers work with owls—nature’s best pest control—to ensure that the best grapes make it to your wine bottle without rodent interference.

Over the last two decades, farmers throughout the United States have increasingly turned to raptors to reduce the rodents that damage their crops. Replacing pesticides with barn owls for rodent control was one of several innovations that marked a new appetite for more environmentally sustainable production.

Today, owl boxes rise out of row after row of vineyards like skinny sentinels protecting precious purple gems. In a survey of 75 California vintners, four-fifths say they use the boxes and are convinced that owls help to control rodents.

Barn owls eat rodents — voraciously. During the four-month nesting season, when the Napa barn owls spend roughly one-third of their time hunting in the vineyards, a single family gobbles up about 1,000 rodents.

Source: Bay Nature