Our High-Altitude Ecosystem
Updated: Aug 17, 2019
This post is about the wild and domesticated animals that we have here at Apu. From ants and lizards to tarantulas and dogs, every animal plays an important role in the ecosystem of our vineyards.
Our domesticated animals create a special dynamic within our family and work environment. Throughout the years, we have rescued 11 animals from the streets of Lima and Curahuasi. We currently have 6 pets. Besides bringing love and joy to our home, our 3 dogs provide security while our 3 cats keep unwanted pests out of our home.
Exotic creatures also frequent our vineyards, many coming from the nearby Amazon rainforest. It is not uncommon to see colorful parrots (Amazona autumnalis), Phoebis butterflies and the long-tailed sylph hummingbird (Aglaiocercus kingii) among the vines. Hairy tarantulas often boldly crawl past us as we work in the vineyard, seemingly unbothered by the presence of humans.
While most animals are harmless to humans, there are some that eat the leaves and grapes of our vines. The biggest threat to our ripe grapes are the “chihuacos” (Turdus chiguanco) who flock to the Curahuasi Valley to eat ready-to-harvest corn. En route to the corn fields, these pesky birds find a perch and peck away at the flesh of the sugary grapes. Despite anti-bird netting and scare tactics, they still consume least 30% of our grapes every year.
In addition to the chihuacos, there are a few creatures that eat our grape leaves. Taruka deer (Hippocamelus antisensis), crickets and ants can demolish the leaves of an entire plant within hours. We keep out the Andean deer with fencing, but crickets and ants can be more difficult to control. Luckily there are many animals here that depend on those insects for food, such as spiders, lizards and mice. In turn, the lizards, spiders and mice are then eaten by animals higher on the food chain. The Andean fox "culpeo" (Lycalopex culpaeus), falcons and condors are common examples. We are fortunate that there aren’t any other predators in the food chain above the Andean fox and the birds of prey here. Anything larger could pose a danger to our beloved pets.
Despite our ongoing battle with ants, crickets and chihuacos, we realize the important role of every creature that roams, skitters, flits and hovers in our vineyards. The animals within our small ecosystem provide harmony among the vines, allowing nature to run its course and making it possible for us to craft a premium high-altitude wine.