Meet Julie Johnson and Tres Sabores Vineyard and Winery

Julie Johnson has a love for wine, dogs, and birds. From the moment you drive onto her certified organic vineyard, Tres Sabores, you are transfixed by the beauty of the farm, and then you are greeted by her golden retriever ambassadors who happily run up to welcome you.


Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores Vineyard and Winery in St. Helena, California.

Tres Sabores sits on an alluvial fan of rich soils. Over half the property is still covered in oak woodlands, with most of the rest in vineyards, 200 olive trees and 150 pomegranate bushes. A hedgerow lines the driveway.

Other larger birds want to appropriate these boxes too, so to stop them from enlarging the entrance holes, Julie uses metal hole ring guards. This keeps non-native European Starlings from moving in, and later in the season, lessens the chances of them eating her grapes.

Natural cavities and nest boxes also support two raptors with different feeding strategies. Barn Owl nest boxes help increase the numbers of these birds hunting at night.

As Julie reflects on providing ecological niches, she plans to install American Kestrel nest boxes so these aerial hunters can cruise over the fields during the day. Typical problem birds for vineyards such as sparrows, finches, starlings, and grackles are present here as well. With the kestrels in residence all year, they may help to reduce the pest bird populations.

Cavity nesters are not the only bird species that Julie supports. Wanting as many beneficial birds as possible in the vineyards, she instructs her vineyard workers not to disturb songbirds’ woven nests. Julie’s vineyard was one of the sites where research was conducted on the pest-control abilities of the Barn Owls. She would like that research and more on other birds to continue, fine-turning the understanding of what the birds are eating and when.

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