Question of the Week: “Why Are There Roses at Each Row of Grapevines?”

This week the  Heart of Sonoma Valley Association, sponsored  “Question of the Week”, the winner receiving  a pair of tickets to the  Savor Sonoma event. (I can’t wait!)

To be eligible to win you had to post a question on their Facebook Fan site. (Which I recommend for following event updates, etc.)

Our winner is Jason Klafter. Jason is an avid lover of Sonoma County and their wines.  Sonoma County is where I first started experimenting with wine about 5-6 years ago. I couldn’t acquire a taste for it at first and now I love it! I am a red wine fan and would say my favorite type of wine is an old vine Zin and his wife is a huge white wine fan. For fun we like to go check out different wineries in Sonoma County and find ourselves changing wine clubs ever year or so so we can get a good taste of each winery.

Jason’s selected “Question of the Day” asked:

Why are there flowers/roses at the beginning/end of each row of grapevines?

Excellent question Jason.

First, it stems from tradition, started in the  wine regions of France. The philosophy was that roses were more susceptible to disease and insects than grapevines, and more visibly affected, thus making them like a miner’s canary, or an early warning system.

More specfically, Roses and grapevines are both susceptible to a fungus called powdery mildew. If a grapegrower noticed that the roses had powdery mildew, they knew it was immediately time to spray sulfur on the grapes to prevent them from getting the same disease. It was believed roses also warn of other diseases and growing problems before they affect the grapevines, and they serve as a habitat for some beneficial insects that eat other undesirable insects.

They certainly aren’t bad to look at either, and one could even match the color of the rose to the grape, red or white.

I have read several rebuttals to this theory, that believe that if this theory was true, then the roses would be like advertising “come here for a treat” to bugs, drawing in bugs that might normally have trundled along towards a flower garden. Sharpshooters,  a known threat to vineyards,  and who purportedly like roses.

Either way, substantial improvements in viticulture, soil and pest management, and other practices have far exceeded this, but then wine is about beauty and enjoyment, so roses sometimes remain.

I hope to see many of you at the event this weekend, or at my Sonoma Wine Meetup in Downtown Sonoma – 80-100 people wine industry, consumers.

For more details on the event, check out the article from earlier this week. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for a special article on featured sales promotions by wineries – cheers!

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