Lions, tigers and bears do not roam vineyards, but the dangers that lurk are numerous and ever-present. Here in the Walla Walla Valley AVA and surrounding AVAs, we, the brave, run against dust allergies, goat heads, rattlesnakes, earwigs and coyotes and only the most valiant of us survive vintage after vintage.
Dust allergies: Between 10—25% of people annually are affected by dust allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis
Goat Heads: For those of us who walk the vineyards daily, these are enemy number one. The Latin name for this plant was tribulus, or “spiky weapon.” The fruit precedes the flower which precedes the nuts that wind up with two or three sharp spikes. They are sharp enough to puncture bike tires, human feet, puppy paws and crocks or flip-flops and they are absolutely everywhere.
Rattlesnakes: These guys are less common but are the most dangerous reptile in the vineyard. They like hiding in the vines and sunning themselves in the dust and if interrupted by a harvester in either sport, they will attack. They have what is known as hemotoxic venom, destroying tissue, degenerating organs and causing coagulopathy (disrupted blood clotting).
Earwigs: are tough to come by in a dangerous sense unless you are sleeping in a vineyard at night. They are nocturnal, live in desert climates and love to find warm, dark, humid small spaces. They have been called some form of “ear wiggle” throughout the centuries in German, Dutch, French, Danish, Slovak, Persian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian and English.
Raccoons, coyotes, red tail foxes and truck drivers make up the list of larger but sparser dangers.