When one thinks of the wine industry and owning a vineyard, chances are one thinks of the classic I Love Lucy sketch with Lucy and Ethel stomping grapes. Or for a younger generation, perhaps movies such as A Walk in the Clouds comes to mind. But, there is much more to a vineyard than the romance of grapes being stomped and sunsets.
For the average vineyard owner there are a variety of obstacles and challenges that they often face – being it equipment needs or concerns due to nature. It is these natural challenges that can be the most frustrating! Currently, there are some Georgia vineyards that are dealing with a challenge due to nature: Red Blotch Disease.
While Red Blotch Disease began in vineyards on the West Coast, it has begun to make its presence known here on the opposite side of the country. So far, there have been more than 65 strains of the viruses identified in grapes, and it is affecting anywhere from 15 to 25% of the vines. And, while Red Blotch Disease (also referred to as GRBaV) seems to be predominantly in red grape varieties, it is also affecting some white. It is identified by red blotches on the leaves, while the veins remain green.
To add insult to injury, identifying Red Blotch Disease can be difficult, as it looks similar to other viruses vineyard owners must watch for. However, indicators of GRBaV are irregular blotches in the leaves, a reddening of the leaf while the veins stay green, and the rolling down of the leaves.
On the website, Salinas Valley Agriculture, a grape expert states the following regarding the effects of Red Blotch Disease:
“Research has shown that when comparing GRBaV infected vines to ones that have no known GRBaV, leafroll-associated viruses, vitiviruses, or Nepoviruses that Brix were lower and malic acid in the juice were higher at harvest for Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay but not Zinfandel. For Chardonnay, yield was also reduced for infected vines. A study looking at the effect of dropping crop to improve quality on infected vines saw little beneficial effect from that practice. For most cultivars, there is a decrease in total phenols, tannins, and anthocyanins (for red wine cultivars) for vines infected with GRBaV.”
Currently, the experts have not yet identified a cause for GRBaV, but they have determined that those vines infected with Red Blotch are producing fruit of a lesser quality due to a decreased amount of sugar accumulation.
Owning a vineyard is more than just pressing grapes. It is a job that is filled with challenges, yet these challenges are embraced because we are dedicated to crafting a perfect wine, that will delight you. We are being especially diligent in watching forGRBaV, and will do our part to see that our vines are not affected.
It is our goal to see that our wines are produced on schedule and to ensure that every bottle is of the highest quality. We are looking forward to serving our Bear Claw Vineyards wines to you and we can’t wait to show you our vineyard.
Be on the lookout for more news about progress made at the vineyard, and don’t forget to book a stay at The Blue Ridge TreeHouse!