We often get caught up in the romance of wine, making it easy to forget that first and foremost winemaking is a business.
And there is no business of winemaking without winegrapes.
And there are no winegrapes without men and women who are in the business of growing them.
So much for romance, huh?
This all came to mind when the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported that a “new” pest has been found in a vineyard in Napa Valley’s Oakville neighborhood.
It’s a moth called Lobesia botrana, a.k.a. the European grapevine moth, and it can do a great deal of damage with its little chompers.
The Press Democrat quoted Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, as saying: “If it did get here (in great numbers), it could be pretty damaging. So it certainly is a concern to growers.”
The European grape moth is particularly scary because it isn’t real particular about what it eats. It can (and does) feed on both the flower and the fruit of a grapevine, which makes it a problem virtually year-round.
Furthermore, its presence can lead to other problems with grapevines. For instance, if it decides to feast on a ripened winegrape, that grape can experience further damage in the form of botrytis.
Controlled botrytis can be a good thing, as vintners use the ultra-ripe (and ultra-sweet) grapes for making dessert wines. Uncontrolled botrytis can simply (and tragically) mean bunches and bunches of grapes rotting on the vines.
Traps have been set in various vineyards in an attempt to gauge how prevalent this potentially industry-threatening moth is in California’s North Coast wine country.
You can read the Press Democrat’s full report here: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20091012/ARTICLES/910129924?Title=New-vineyard-pest-detected-in-Napa-County