NEAR EUGENE, Ore -- Deep in the heart of the King Estate Winery, dangerous predators lurk.
They are predators with a purpose: to prey on insects and rodents that threaten these precious grapes.
"About 3 years ago, there was a vole explosion up further north in the valley," said King Estate marketing manager Sasha Kadey.
The winery looked for an organic option to reduce the number of pests. They've teamed up with the Cascades Raptor Center and recently released six orphaned raptors into the vineyard, three barn owls and three American kestrels. Both native to the Willamette Valley.
"This is organic here," said raptor center Education Coordinator Kit Lacy. "There is going to be lots of prey for them to hunt."
Lacy said barn owls eat at least five rodents every night and kestrels love little bugs.There is no guarantee the raptors will stay in the vineyard. Just to make it a little more enticing, they installed nine boxes in hopes that the raptors will call King Estate their permanent home.
"We do our best," said Lacy. "There is lots of food here. There is places to live if they want. We cross our fingers and hope that some of them do stay."
It's an idea that impressed a group of wine distributors visiting from New York.
"This is the first time we're hearing about this," said Robert Wall. "It's unbelievable, especially for the winery to be doing something like this and something for wildlife. It's incredible."
Or perhaps it's the perfect predator-prey-pinot partnership.