Falconry is the ancient art of hunting with trained birds of prey. Falcons play an integral role in the vineyards, protecting the grapes from starlings and other birds. John Hawley first became a licensed falconer as a teenager. His career as a winemaker didn’t allow enough time to practice falconry until sons Paul and Austin began taking over the business. In the past few years, John has become very involved in the falconry community and has rehabilitated injured falcons for re-release to the wild.
Falconry is more of an obsession than a hobby and now that John's sons have taken on more of the production duties, John has reinvested himself. As a licensed falconer, John has trained a Kestral, Red-tailed hawk, Coopers hawk, Goshawk and rehabilitated a Peregrine falcon. He spends hours every day with his birds. An average day includes a morning training session, an afternoon bath, and in the evening he takes the hawk out to an open field to fly free.
Falconry is used in the vineyard for bird abatement. As harvest nears, flocks of marauding starlings descend upon the vines to feed on the sweet berries. When a falcon is in the air, the birds are nowhere to be seen. Flying falcons over acres of vineyard for a few weeks is much more cost effective than covering the vine rows in bird netting.