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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Can I feed my leftover grape stems and skins to the deer?

—Jayne, Marquette, Wisc.

Dear Jayne,

There are lots of ways to use pomace, the grape stems, seeds and skins that are leftover from winemaking. It can be made into all sorts of things, including spirits like grappa, mulch, flour or even converted into methane gas.

Some folks have investigated using pomace as feed for farm animals, but the consensus is that it’s best as a filler, because pomace is difficult to digest and relatively nutrient-poor compared to other types of feed. It also seems that pomace is best enjoyed when it’s still fresh—just a day or two after the grapes have been pressed—because apparently farm animals can be picky.

You specifically asked about deer, which strikes me as odd considering that deer are vineyard pests. In the spring they’ll eat the young shoots of vines, limiting growth, and in the fall they’ll eat as many ripe grapes as they can reach. While eating pomace might be a way to give deer some fiber, most vintners want to keep deer as far away from their vineyards as possible.

—Dr. Vinny

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