On Predators and Patriots, Ladybugs and BBQ

There are good and bad predators. As the Wine Predator, I’d like to think that I’m one of the “good” ones.

Likewise, ladybugs are a good predator — unless you’re an aphid which is destructive to crops including wine grape vines! As this blog post from June 2015 for the biodynamic Beckmen Vineyards in Santa Barbara County  explains,

“Lady­bugs are selec­tive preda­tor bugs and usu­al­ly only like to eat aphids. How­ev­er, when the leafhop­pers are new­ly born nymphs, they become a wel­come treat for the lady­bugs. I could have used an organ­ic spray to man­age the increas­ing leafhop­per pop­u­la­tion, but why not use lady­bugs? Just because a spray is organ­ic, doesn’t mean it’s always safe to use, or is the best solu­tion. At the end of the day, the spray is still poi­son, but in a nat­ur­al form (I could’ve used a spray derived from chrysanthemums).

“Rein­tro­duc­ing lady­bugs is a form of inte­grat­ed pest man­age­ment – essen­tial­ly man­ag­ing pest dam­age in the most com­mon-sense way pos­si­ble. Lady­bugs are ben­e­fi­cial to our envi­ron­ment and they help decrease anoth­er pest issue, so it’s a win-win deci­sion for me.”

Last month, radar showed a 80 mile wide by 80 mile long swarm of lady bugs flying across San Diego county at an elevation of about a mile above ground:

The radar actually looked more like a light rainstorm but none were predicted so the weather service called a spotter in Wrightwood who reported that it was ladybugs.

Not long after that swarm of lady bugs headed out from SoCal, three bottles of Predator wine adorned with ladybugs arrived at my door.  Since I am one of those who think ladybugs bring good luck, I was triply blessed!

As we near July 4 aka Independence Day here in the United States, I can’t help but muse about good and bad predators, and what it means to be a patriot.

Being a patriot means taking care of the people and the place where they live.

To be a patriot is someone who chooses predators over pesticides and people over profits.

A patriot pays attention to the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit.

Predator Wines are made by the Rutherford Wine Company which is family owned, family farmed and sustainably operated with a commitment  to sustainably farming, producing and bottling their wines: “Our commitment to sustainable growing practices helps ensure the health and vitality of our select vineyards. “Natural Predation” is an eco-friendly strategy to control harmful critters in the vineyards. Ladybugs, a natural insect predator, along with predator mites, feed on destructive aphids.”  I don’t know enough about the company and their farming practices to say that they are a paragon of virtue, and I didn’t see anything about regenerative agriculture, organics, or biodynamic practices beyond using integrated pest management like ladybugs, but it sounds like they are making an effort across their various brands.

Our Wines

  • 2017 – Old Vine Zinfandel – Lodi – 15% alcohol SRP $15
  • 2016 – Cabernet Sauvignon- Lodi – 13.5% alcohol SRP $15
  • 2015 – 6 Spot, Red Wine – Lodi – 13.5% alcohol SRP $15

Our Menu

  • Appetizers:
    St Augur Blue, Wine soaked Gouda, Herbed and Regular Brie, Turmeric spiced almonds, Italian sausage, IPA salami; puff pastry stuffed with sausage would be an excellent choice
  • Assorted locally sourced sausages
    Splurge and go to your local market where they make them fresh. It really does make a difference.
  • Potato salad
    You can buy this but so much better if you make your own and it really isn’t that hard plus you can make it ahead of time
  • BBQ pork ribs
    You can buy these already cooked, ready to cook or go homemade all the way!
  • Grilled corn
    We don’t recommend this pairing; corn is too sweet for any of these wines. Instead go for a green salad — think fresh tomato, and a basil, garlic and parmesan cheese dressing. But hey, summer corn is yummy — everything doesn’t have to go with everything! Just cleanse your palate after having corn before you go back to wine for your best experience. 

2017 – Old Vine Zinfandel – Lodi – 15% alcohol SRP $15
sample for my review 

What they say on the label: “What food best compliments a lush Zinfandel? Ladybugs prefer fresh aphids and mites. That’s why we encourage them to dine on harmful insects in our vineyards. ” Natural predation” is just one of many eco friendly strategies we are committed to, and for you non ladybugs, try a glass of Predator Zin with short ribs or a juicy burger.”

We found they were right on with their suggested pairing of the short ribs. This wine handles the sweetness of the BBQ sauce and loves the char of the meat. The sweet and the sour, the tart and the bright. Also went perfectly with our spicy venison sausage.

Color: Magenta, dusty rose at the bottom of the glass when swirling

Nose: Dusty rose, dusty earthen, with a lot of fruit, strawberry jam

Palate: Oak is present right away, bright tart red cherries, very acidic like fresh fruit is acidic. The finish is like the tartness of a skin of a plum, or cherry phosphate, citric acid. There seems to be a darker toast to the oak. Toasted grilled bed with a bit of jam on it.

Pairing: A great BBQ wine, with  just enough sweet and sour to go with your favorite grill meats and sauce. Great pizza or burger wine. This brings out nice fennel notes in the Italian sausage. If you were to find this wine at a resturant serving pizza, it would be pair so well with a sausage one. So nice with the blue cheese (St Agur); it works so well with the toast of the wine. What a perfect pair. We wanted a turkey burger with blue cheese and this wine. The earthiness from the tumeric in the nuts paired nicely with the earthiness in the wine and it likes the potato salad as well.

Great all around people pleasing BBQ wine. Go to the beach, lake, river or even your backyard and pull out this wine to perfectly accompany a hometown BBQ.

2016 – Cabernet Sauvignon- Lodi – 13.5% alcohol SRP $15
sample for my review 

What they say in the label: What food best compliments a fine Cabernet. Ladybugs prefer fresh aphids and mites. That’s why we encourage their dining on harmful insects in our vineyards. ” Natural predation” is just one of many eco friendly strategies we are committed to, and for you non ladybugs, we recommend you enjoying this lush a hearty cab with a juicy steak or tender prime rib.

Color: Ruby red, very red all the way through, even the rim.

Nose: Cherry, vanilla, cherry vanilla cola, sweet vanilla oak,

Palate: Smooth and easy to drink, cherry jolly ranchers, menthol or eucptlyptus mid palate.

Pairing: Another amazing pair with the St Agur blue cheese. It loved the nuttiness of the whole grain sourdough, and with the blue cheese, it totally slays the fruitiness of the wine. The nuts were just a little too sweet for the wine, but it loved the earthiness of the turmeric. Sue thought it would be great with a beet salad with the blue cheese and the turmeric almonds. I found that it also worked with the brie as well. Not everyone likes blue cheese, but a bit of brie on a steak with this wine would be divine. Sue felt the short ribs with the Zin, I felt that they also went well with this wine. Very nice with the grilled Italian sausage.

On a subsequent evening, I paired it with salmon. I did NOT expect it to work but work it did!

2015 – 6 Spot, Red Wine – Lodi – 13.5% alcohol SRP $15
48% Petite Sirah, 30% Zinfandel and 22% Malbec
RS 1%
sample for my review consideration

On the back of the bottle they say: Do ladybugs bring good luck? Some farmers believe that finding a ladybug with 6 spots signals a bountiful harvest. And, since ladybugs consume crop damaging aphids, even the least superstitious grower welcomes them, six spotted or not. When it comes to crafting our wines, we don’t rely on luck. For each vintage we blend Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, and Malbec to create a wine loaded with varietal character and delicious flavors.

Color: Deep red garnet with a violet rim

Nose: Oak toast, underlying fruit, mixed red fruit pie, little bit of cherry, little bit of blackberry, little bit of blackberry, with caramelized sugars, a pie with the juice spilling over in your oven. There is also a bit of herbal notes as well. More sage than mint, maybe even more eucalyptus than sage.

Palate: Right away there is a “bing” of happy fruit, then there is a caramel finish. Very toasty, vanilla toasty, dulce de leche kind of toast. Toasted bread and jam. It is very fruit forward with nice acidity.

Pairing: Sue immediately wanted to go back to the blue cheese with this wine, and wasn’t disappointed. It does bring out all the intensity of the blue, and follows with the fruit of the wine. The blue blooms in your mouth and the wine just explodes. The caramel goes right out the window. Great with the little bit of aged gouda we had on our cheese plate. This wine can definitely handle aged strong cheeses. I don’t recommend you trying this wine with an herbed brie. It was tough to get over. Tamed the spiciness of the venison sausage. This wine also was great with the sweet BBQ sauce and char from the grill on the short ribs.

Happy Independence Day!

Have a great July Fourth!

A toast to our country! Cheers!

PS Wondering where all of those ladybugs were going?

Obviously, the Ladybug picnic!




One thought on “On Predators and Patriots, Ladybugs and BBQ

  1. High marks on use of natural predators upon the aphids. 6 Spot Red Wine sounds like it may just hit the spot for me.


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