My friend and colleague Dale Cullins and I have worked together for longer than either one of us would probably like to admit. In that time I’ve found Dale’s knowledge of wine and all thing happening at the Wine Center to be inexhaustable. Just the other day he was commenting on the wild turkeys that live on the property. I thought it’d be nice to share his stories, information and photos with you, so I asked him to write a post for us. -Jim.
If you stop by the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center in the morning or late afternoon, you’re in for a treat. For the last several years, we have been seeing growing flocks of turkeys strutting about, foraging on some of the food we grow in the culinary garden. Some of their favorite snacks are our delicious estate grown grapes, as well as our organic produce.
One other item that makes up a large portion of their diet is walnuts that drop from our 11 acres of orchards here on the property. Our estate English walnut orchard is one of the last remaining walnut orchards in the Russian River Valley. Due to economics, most walnut orchards have been replaced with vineyards. For comparison, one ton of walnuts may give you about $400 per ton compared to Russian River Pinot Noir at an average price of $2,000 per ton.
The male turkeys are usually seen courting in groups, often with the dominant male gobbling and spreading his tail feathers. The theory behind the team-courtship is that the less dominant male would have a greater chance of passing along shared genetic material than if it were courting alone.
Turkey nests are shallow dirt depressions engulfed with woody vegetation. Hens lay a clutch of 10-14 eggs, usually one per day. The eggs are incubated for at least 28 days. The baby turkeys (called poults) leave the nest in about 12–24 hours. Needless to say, our property makes a great place for the poults to grow. The turkeys here are a variety of ages, but are wild animals and wary of people. Feel free to practice your turkey call, but be aware, as they are not known for having their PhDs.
Needless to say we have some very happy turkeys, as well as squirrels and birds. Of course, we do not allow hunting on our property, and treat the ranch as a nature preserve. It is not uncommon to see deer, coyote, foxes, and many other animals that use our property as a sanctuary. So if you like wild life, stop by and try a few wines while taking in the view with a couple new winged friends.
Dale Cullins has been a part of the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center for over 13 years. Born in Northern Maine, Cullins learned to knit at an early age due to the inclement weather associated with New England, which has led to him winning a few Blue Ribbons in competitions. His passion for travel is only matched for enthusiasm for wine and Kendall-Jackson.