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Red roses and vineyard in Vipava valley, Slovenia. Sunset shot with lens flare

Why are rose bushes planted in vineyards?

Have you noticed on your visit to a vineyard that there are roses at the end of each vine row? It may seem they are just a beautiful addition, but actually they alert the winemaker to the presence of diseases or pests that often attack the vines.

As the wise old saying goes, ‘Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.’ Nature offers winemakers simple solutions to solve problems in the vineyard. Grapevines are prone to certain diseases and they can get attacked by different pests that can do serious damage to the vines.

For winemakers, grapevine diseases can be devastating. However, they can use such simple solutions as plants and flowers that act as an early warning of diseases and give information on the climate or phenology. Both roses and grape vines are susceptible to the same fungal diseases. Roses, however, show signs before vines do, and so they can act as an early alert. And as soon as a disease is detected in roses, the proper treatment can be applied to save the crops.

Fungal diseases

Both grapevines and rose bushes are susceptible to oidium or powdery mildew, an infectious disease with devastating consequences, and by downy mildew too. In either case, the disease becomes apparent in roses at an early stage.

Powdery mildew appears on the leaves and grapes as if they have had ash sprinkled on them. If the disease advances, it can result in major losses in crop size and quality. The disease first came to Europe in the nineteenth century. It set foot in England first, attacking and harming the vineyards on the island. It was in Burgundy that French monks realised that the rose bushes they planted close to the vines would show the marks of the disease before the vines did.

Days of wine and roses

While roses are mainly planted because they are an effective alert system, they also add beauty to the vineyard landscape. Blooming roses surrounding the vineyard create a lovely image.

The bright colours of roses are a feast for the eyes. Many winegrowers even plant roses of the same colour as the grapes they grow: white roses for light-coloured grapes and red roses for dark-coloured buds.

In Finca Valpiedra, we have planted rose bushes along the perimeter of the vineyard. Besides their practical purposes, they add beauty and contribute to create a romantic atmosphere. Vines and roses make a postcard-like view, which you can experience first-hand on your tour of Finca Valpiedra.

In Finca Antigua, plants such as asphodels that grow wild on the estate give information about the current season’s rainfall and the estimated bud break time. The reason for this is that asphodels bloom when the growth cycle begins in the vineyard.

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