Mealybug, You Put The Leaf Roll Into My Vine

Learn About Grapevine Diseases Only someone fascinated by the music genre of the 1980s would even remotely gather what song I parodied in the title of this post, but after doing the piece on Phylloxera last time I decided to take a moment to reflect on other vine nuisances that can cripple a vineyard and that’s the title that came to mind. I am by no means a ’80s music fan, just an unfortunate soul caught in the riptide of the 80s that hasn’t ebbed since my teens. I remember when “Video Killed The Radio Star” came out. MTV was to intelligence what Phylloxera was to the world’s vineyards. Neither has fully recovered since. Let’s look at some of the vine diseases caused by invading pests and organisms. Viral Diseases Leaf Roll Virus: A colorful display of gold and red leaves with a curling downward leaf blade. Mealybugs deposit a sugary excretion as they feed called honeydew, a sticky mess that resembles soft candle wax and supports mold that grows on the leaves. This causes the pigment that would normally transfer to the grapes to remain in the leaves resulting in defoliation, bunch rots and spur and cane death. The [...]

The Rooting Out Of Phylloxera

Learn About The Origin Of Phylloxera Remember the tale of Phylloxera and the three grapevine roots? Yes you do: Phylloxera came over and ate everything in their house but nothing satisfied her, so she ate the three grapevine roots. Then she and her parasitic horde devoured the rest of Europe’s and the world’s grapevine roots nearly driving our precious nectar of the gods from this great big ball of dirt we call home. Then came the Americans to save the day with their rootstocks which were immune to Phylloxera’s appetite for destruction. What no one knew, though, was it was the Americans who introduced Phylloxera to Europe in the first place. Then communism fell and Wal-mart opened a new store in Suburbia. In the mid 1800s native American vines were shipped to France for experimentation and Phylloxera, unbeknownst to anyone, stowed away on the roots. Once called Phylloxera vastatrix, or the devastator, but now known as Daktulosphaira vitifoliae, Phylloxera is a small greenish-yellow aphid that feeds on the roots of grapevines, thus strangling the plant as its water and nutrients source is cut off. In a little under three decades the majority of Europe’s vineyards were gone. Growers were confounded [...]

Anatomy Of A Grape Vine

Learn about Vitis vinifera: The Anatomy Of A Grape Vine The common grape vine has been dated to be about 200 million years old and has been noted in the annals of history from the time of cave drawings depicting the great wine parties of the Neolithic era to The Epic of Gilgamesh in Ancient Mesopotamia to Wine Spectator’s monthly wine reviews of today. And regardless of the scribe the message has always been clear: wine good. For some of us that basic wine knowledge is enough, but there are others who crave more. So let us turn our eyes to the root of all wine: the grapevine, Vitis vinifera. Vitis Vinifera: Common Grape Vine Vitis vinifera is the only commercially planted variety of grape vine used for wine on a global scale. North America has native vines: Vitis labrusca, Vitis riparia, Vitis rotundifolia, and some of these are made into sweet wines and have a “foxy” characteristic like musk. But their production is limited to regions in North America. That is not to say they have no influence on the rest of the wine world. On the contrary, much of the vines in the world are planted from the [...]

It Was An Act Of Terroir!

Learn About Terroir Have you ever wondered if Jesus attracted such a large following because of his ability to turn water into wine? How good could the wine have been? Water doesn’t have much body. What percentage alcohol do you think it had? Do you think he had a preference of terroir in mind when he made it? How come there’s no historical reference to Jesus anywhere but in the Bible? You’d think someone who made nearly 150 gallons of wine out of water at a wedding would have made the headlines. Which brings me back to my first question; What is terroir? Okay, so that wasn’t my first question. But what is terroir? Soil, slope of the land, how the sun hits, how much sun hits, elevation, rainfall, wind, fog, temperature, how many cow farts pass through the vineyard after so many poundage of cud passes through the cows; these are all parts of that French word that means everything that affects the grapevine: terroir, pronounced Tair-WAHR. Let’s look at a few aspects of terroir. Climate Climate determines the very existence of grapes. If a vine can’t endure its clime, it won’t produce any berries. It won’t grow at [...]

Learn About Wine

Wine Attributes So you already learn about wine enough to know that wine is made from fermented grape juice and if you didn’t, you do now. To get to the point where grape juice turns into alcohol might stump you, so let’s look at a few key attributes that determine the structure of a wine. These attributes are Alcohol Acid Tannin Fruitiness Sweetness/Dryness Alcohol In Wine Why drink wine if you’re not going to gain from it? On its own wine for beginners can be a pretty hard thing to swallow without some incentive. It’s only after you’ve developed an appreciation for wine that you will drink it for what it is. Then you will appreciate the benefits of its charm fully. Aside from the affable mood it evokes, alcohol in wine is also a determinant to a wine’s quality. Sugar in wine grapes converts to ethyl alcohol in the fermentation process, so the riper the grape at harvest, the more natural sugar within the grape and the higher the alcohol content in a finished wine. This also means that the alcohol in wine has a sweet taste to it. A high alcohol wine will seem chewy as alcohol content [...]