Monday, November 6, 2017
Angelica McGoogan has been a bartender and server on the Napa Valley Wine Train since 2014. Knowledgeable about diverse aspects of viticulture and the process of making quality wines, Angelica McGoogan enjoys sharing this information with guests.
One curious tradition of grape growing is the custom of planting rose bushes at the end of rows. Long ago, growers realized grape vines and roses were prone to mildew and other fungal diseases. This includes powdery mildew, which can set on the vines’ green parts and ultimately cause splitting and rot. Downy mildew, by contrast, is characterized by a preference for damp conditions and deposits oily stains on the leaves, which inhibit photosynthesis and cause the leaves to fall out. By planting roses at the end of rows in the vineyard, growers thought that mildew would attack the roses first, thus acting like an early warning system.
Both types of mildew are addressed by applying antifungal sprays. Those containing sulfur solutions are used on powdery mildew, while sprays with lime and copper sulfate are used to treat downy mildew. Today, rose bushes are purely for aesthetic purposes, as modern technologies allow funguses to be easily identified and treated, before they become an issue.