Vineyard Pests: And You Thought Birds Were Bad

Pests. They are the things that give grape growers fits. They tend to be insects, birds and even the occasional wild boar. However, you rarely here folks who grow grapes in CA, or nearly anywhere, make this complaint:

"One of the pests that we have to contend with are baboons"

All in the service of a good bottle of wine, I presume. Apparently baboons are big fans of ripe grapes.

The folks worrying about Baboons are the Leakey family. Yes, THAT Leakey family…among The most famous paleoanthropologists in the world. They have vineyards in Kenya and make wine there. Hugh Johnson called their wines "certainly the most drinkable red we’d tasted in the tropics".

Their label is IL MASIN.

But Baboons? In order to keep the baboons from eating their ripened grapes they’ve put up an electric fence that does not merely stop the critters but apparently throws them 15 feet up into the air when it is touched.

The daughter of Richard and Maeve Leakey maintains a blog about her grapegrowing and winemaking experiences in Kenya: ZABIBU. It’s fascinating. After reading through it I can’t tell you have much I’d love to taste one of their Kenyan Pinot Noirs.

Tip of the hat to Amy Lillard of La Gramiere Winery Blog for the heads up on ZABIBU


7 Responses

  1. Louise - March 13, 2007

    Thanks Tom for the write up and will have to get you a bottle somehow but you might have to come to Kenya to get the real taste of it.

  2. winehiker - March 13, 2007

    Before I would buy the Il Masin, I’d want to study some of the paleoanthropology on that seemingly rather inhumane “shock the monkey” fence….

  3. Cru Master - March 14, 2007

    The ‘shock the monkey’ fence isnt much different than the electric collars that dogs are sometimes forced to wear…
    on an organic note, Tulbagh Mountain Vinyards in South Africa had a similar problem with the monkey’s eating the grapes. Being organic, they wanted to find an organic method of keeping the monkeys away from the vineyards.
    In the end, after trying a hundred different things, they threw lion dung around the perimeter of the vineyard and amazingly it kept the monkeys aways from the grapes!

  4. Louisa Hargrave - March 15, 2007

    I was just in Kenya, helping the Leakeys with their outstanding wine project. Having inadvertantly touched their electric fence, I can assure you that the jolt is gives is not “inhumane”–it’s just enough to convince the baboons that there are better places to find fruit (and me to lower my head entering the vineyard). If someone thinks lion dung is a better solution–well, let them gather it.
    It’s challenging making wine on the edge of the Rift Valley, but the fruit quality is incontestably there, especially with pinot noir. At the Leakey’s elevation, the climate is Sonoma-like (maybe a bit cooler in the day). Soils are volcanic, and yields are low. What a valuable undertaking for inspired wine lovers!

  5. Louisa Hargrave - March 20, 2007

    Please note that the posting about winemaking in Kenya was mine, not Crumaster’s–and greetings to him, too!

  6. dee - November 30, 2007

    Boric acid can be used for getting rid of plant pests. From

  7. KATANA - August 14, 2008

    I want to try plant to just plant a few grapevines, but I don’t know where to get them. However, after visiting this website I have come to discover their grapeyards here in Kenya.Therefore, I needed to know where exactly are these Kenyan vineyards and if it is possible for one to buy these grapevines for planting.It will also be glad if you can direct me to these vineyards.

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