Wine Talk

Snooth User: jamessulis

Roses and Winery's

Posted by jamessulis, May 15, 2013.

While traveling through Napa Valley last month I noticed that all the Vineyards I visited had roses planted around their crops. They're planted and watched closely for any early signs of infestation on the land. They monitor the Roses closely and upon early signs of problems, protective measures are taken to make sure the grape vines receive a solution. Pictured here is Mario Andretti's Wine crops.

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Replies

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Reply by JonDerry, May 15, 2013.

Awesome pic, James!

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Reply by EMark, May 15, 2013.

Thanks, Lefty.  I've noticed the roses in multiple trips to wine countries.  I knew there had to be a rationale for it, but I never asked on one of my trips or here on Snooth.

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Reply by gregt, May 15, 2013.

Roses get a lot of the same diseases. Don't forget, they're fruits too. 

I don't have a winery but I have had a few roses and that's the only reason I know about the Bordeaux mix (doesn't work), powdery mildew, blackspot, downy mildew, botrytis, and a host of other problems. For many years people bred roses only for the bloom and they didn't care what the plant looked like. Eventually people stopped growing roses, considering them a lot of work. But they're not as long as you get the right roses for your environment. If mine get diseased, I rip them out and try something else.

OTOH, with wine, people want their Cabernet. So you can't rip it out and plant something more appropriate, because nobody wants anything new. They only want grapes that already exist. Otherwise they couldn't have all their conversations about Pinot Noir over and over and over and over. All interesting wine grape varieties have already been produced so all further research should cease.  

Meantime, in the rose world, there is finally a huge movement to breed disease-resistant roses and there is one man who has done so in such magnificent fashion, he has become a legend. That's Bill Radler who bred Knockout and all the sports of that rose. Great work. 

The funny thing is, most of the rose diseases out east aren't problems in the drier wine country of the west coast. So I'm not sure how useful those roses are. I think a lot of times these days they're just planted because they're pretty. And that's a perfect reason for planting them!

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Reply by archieloft, May 16, 2013.

Wow! That is truly beautiful picture of roses.

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Reply by jamessulis, May 16, 2013.

@ GregT. I appreciate your comments to my post. Your last statement about the Winery's planting just because they're pretty is erroneous. They do it for a reason, this is not a speculation, it is a fact.

Appreciate your info on roses although

 

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Reply by JenniferT, May 16, 2013.

Interesting!

Roses are traditionally seen as canaries in terms of mildew....I'm sure there must be good reason for that. And mildew is still a huge problem many growers. Since mildew and moisture presumably go hand in hand, I can imagine it becomes less applicable in the hotter/drier areas farther inland.

I read that one of the ways they deal with mildew is to apply sulfur, and some of the application systems are actually temperature based. 

I'm not sure if they talked about roses specifically, but I went on an interesting tour of the biodynamic Benzinger winery and they talked about how the flowers helped attract/support butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, etc...which collectively interact to build a stronger and more supportive ecosystem in the vineyard. I don't think its just biodynamic hocus-pocus - they gave some compelling examples, but I just can't remember them. (full disclosure: I may have had some wine to drink at this point)

 

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Reply by JenniferT, May 16, 2013.

Lovely picture, btw!

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Reply by gregt, May 16, 2013.

James - of course you're right. I was just venting because roses out east are nothing like roses on the west coast.  You guys out there can even grow Bourbons and Hybrid Perpetuals that we don't even think about here.

Most roses for sale commercially are grafted onto rootstock, usually a rose called Dr. Huey. The reason is because most rose producers are in CA these days and that particular rose grows well in the CA soils. So if people buy grafted roses, and that's what most people are getting whether they realize it or not, they're getting a time bomb. Dr. Hue.blackspots to hell out east, and since the scion tends to die off, it's actually the most widely-grown rose in the US. I can spot it far away and once you learn what it is, you can too. It's defoliated by disease come mid-summer. 

So the reason they plant roses in vineyards is exactly as Jennifer suggests - they're the canaries. But in the rose world, which has declined dramatically even as the population of the US has increased, there's finally a backlash and in the future, the roses won't be such good canaries. Since I know considerably more about roses than I do about vines, I'd be propagating and distributing the most susceptible roses there are. Not sure at all if that's what people do - I don't think so because when I've asked, they just look at me.

Funny though, rose people are just as fanatic as wine people, but they rarely cross over. I go out to dinner with rose people and when the waiter suggests a wine, I ask what vintage and the people start smiling. It's all the same to them! Something red in the glass.

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Reply by JonDerry, May 17, 2013.

Rose people...something I never considered!

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 17, 2013.

I beg to differ with GregT on the rose and wine people not overlapping.  I grew up with a mother who always had roses in her yards.  Not one or two, but whole gardens.  (We had some big lots back in the day.)  She also likes wine, but no one in my family is as into it as I am.  Still, she and my father, who was a full partner in raising roses, have good if more forgiving palates. Rose lovers develop a good sense of smell--after all, the aroma is a huge part of why we grow them.

Forward one generation: I'm not a rose breeder by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a rose bed with epic roses.  Last Sunday for Mother's Day, we had my mother over and we drank wine and looked at and discussed my roses.  (She has miniatures now that she and my father have a townhouse rather than a dedicated yard.) I don't read extensively and to some degree neglect my roses (rather intentionally), but I designed my yard to have a very specific feel that focused on the rose bed.  I used to have lavender around the rose bed, but it never did well and--surprise!-- I am fiercely allergic to it, so I replaced it with Salvia, which looks a lot like lavender and attracts lots of desirable pollinators.  Attracting pollinators is probably also a major reason that roses are planted around the vineyards.  They have strong scents that attract the bees and others, who can then fill up on the weaker nectar from the grape's flowers.  My guess, anyway.

Mildew isn't as big a problem here, although it exists.  I definitely get spotting on my leaves, too, but I don't do anything much about it.  Why not?  I made a big commitment to raise everything in my garden as organically as possible.  I've kept to it except for about one spray bottle of Roundup over fifteen years to keep the weeds from pushing the walkway up (downside to living in a perfect growing environment:  extremely large, robust, aggressive broad leaf weeds in your dry-laid brick patio.) Organic composts, manure, neem oil to control the mites and aphids, and that's it.  Right now, the roses are just full of dead heads because we couldn't keep up with cutting them, but we'll snip them and get another, oh, 500-1000 blooms in a couple months.  Since they kept blooming for a dozen years, I only got around to replenishing soil in their bed earlier this year, and they just all bloomed at once.  Greg, the only way to overcome your jealousy is to move out here as soon as you can. 

That said, when I lived back east (Massachusetts and New York State in the late '70s, early '80s) you could still buy roses from nurseries back there, and the rootstocks (yep, they are all grafts, pretty much) were appropriate to the environment.  In fact, roses really like to go dormant in cold weather--they are related to apples, which want the same.  (Sorry, OT, but Sonoma County apples never held a candle to NY and MA apples.)

It's not the mildew but the insect pests, I bet, that the roses serve as a bellwether for.  That and the pollinator attraction are reason enough for planting them around vineyards.

Finally, I do agree with GregT that rose afficionados are much more interested in ongoing breed development and hybridization, but for good historical reasons.  Most wines made from hybrid grapes haven't been very good--often times the traits desired don't materialize.  Take ruby cabernet, a cross between Carignan and Cab Sauv.  It got some of Carignan's ability to grow in high heat and yield a lot of wine, but very little of Cab's structure and potential for complexity.  It's been an "improver" for jug wines, but overall a disappointment.  Hybrid roses, on the other hand, have seen a lot of success.  And though they take a good deal of time to propagate, getting a result from roses is a lot quicker than from grapes, which don't bear fruit (esp from seedlings, as opposed to cuttings) for years, and then cannot be judged very well for more years.  Pinotage may be better than Cinsault, but it's no match for its other parent, Pinot Noir.  (GregT would beg to differ, but ignore his bleats about PN--his only real weak spot as a wine expert.;-) )

If you ever want to combine rose garden visiting with wine tasting, I recommend the Sierra Foothills around Grass Valley.  Wallace Stegner set much of  "Angle of Repose" up there, and one protagonist, a mining engineer, ends his career there, where he takes up hybridizing roses.  Stegner took some liberties with his character's biography--he based it on a mining engineer who ran the North Star Mine, but the rose garden he is describing is actually at Empire Mine, a state historic park, and it is maintained in its 1905 form.  (Coincidentally, both were later purchased by Newmont Mining Company, so there was a link. There were also lawsuits between the mines prior to the merger.) 

Lefty, thanks for starting this thread with the gorgeous photo.  Rose and wine lovers like myself couldn't ask for more.

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Reply by EMark, May 17, 2013.

It is so interesting what you learn about the people on this site.  And how much information they are eager to share.

At the EMark Rancho we gave up on roses years ago and moved to bearded iris.

 

The roses always seemed to be considered by aphids to be exclusively their turf.  Don't tell me about ladybugs.  That did not work at all.

 

 

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Reply by gregt, May 19, 2013.

Fox - who knew. Another rose person.

Star may be the only commercial operation that still has a commercial bed near the east coast - with the consolidation of the companies, almost all are now out in CA. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden had the hill of death at one point - they'd just plant things up there and see whether they lived or died. Most didn't thrive!

In my own small garden, I can only have like 50 roses and I've thinned them out over the past two years because they're just too big. And that's a perfect example of microclimates. The BBG, only a mile away, can't grow many of the Noisettes and Teas because they're too tender. So I expected small roses and planted those because I like them. Well, they're over 10 feet tall in some cases. I suspect it's because my small plot is protected from the winter winds that can be deadly, although this last winter I think I lost Crepuscule, which was one of my favorite roses of all time.

Aromas are really hard to breed for and many roses have no aroma at all. Knockout, for example, for all of its virtues, is scentless. David Austin has bred for aromatic qualities, but like many other breeders, has all but ignored disease resistance until very recently. The best way to find out what thrives in your area is to visit old cemeteries and churches, particularly in small and out of the way places, and see if something is thriving there. Sometimes you'll find a rose that's been growing since the Civil War. There's a group of Rose Rustlers that does exactly that and they've reclaimed many "lost" roses in that way.

As far as diseases on the east coast - cold wet winters and humid summers can be deadly. Most roses won't thrive in such conditions so people spray the hell out of them. I don't want to because I grow herbs interplanted with them so I just rip them out if they blackspot and I plant something else. Neem oil doesn't work all that well here. We just add compost every year and that's pretty much it. Regarding aphids - they used to be a horror. But one year, when I was about to give up, I looked out and a swarm of birds came in, dozens of birds flying from one rose to another and snapping up the aphids. They just gorged on them for an hour or so and when I went out, the aphids were gone. It was perfect.

Main problem now is Japanese Beetles, which are heading farther west every year and there's really no way to eliminate them. People pour milky spore on the ground to kill the grubs, but that doesn't work if your neighbors don't do it.

In England they love roses but they spray a lot. Went to Kew Gardens a few years ago - an exciting thing for me although my wife was pretty indifferent, and I noticed that some of their roses were mislabeled. It's not like I know what I'm talking about but Marie Pavie is related to Rose de Rescht like a Kistler Chardonnay is to Chateau Catenac Brown. Anyhow, I told one of the park people and she laughed. Said the kids are always trying to change the names that weren't on chains and most people wouldn't know.

Back to the canaries though - down in Texas, people like Chamblee's Roses and the university are putting together a list of what they call the Earth Kind roses. Been working at it for around ten years or so. Those are roses that won't need spraying in the region. Many of them seem to be pretty good in different regions as well, but we have our own list out east. Eventually, if people push the issue hard enough, the vineyards will have to seek out roses that are specifically disease prone. Unlikely in my lifetime, but one can hope.

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Reply by gregt, May 19, 2013.

BTW emark - nice iris.  Mine are in bloom right now and I'm not home to see them.

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Reply by EMark, May 19, 2013.

Another very interesting post, Greg.  Thank you very much.

For what it's worth, I had no idea how aromatic bearded iris were until we started planting them some years ago and would cut the blooms to bring them inside.  Within an hour or so room would be filled with a heavenly aroma.  WIthin a few more hours, though, both of us would be sneezing like crazy.  So, now we just enjoy them outside.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 20, 2013.

Emark, that is hilarious.  Turns out we are allergic to many varieties of lilies.  ("We" being my kids, wife and me.)  We bring them indoors, then we have to cut out the reproductive organs as soon as they bloom.  If we leave the roses too long, we also have some reaction, but less.  Luckily, as soon as they get tired looking, we have more. 

GregT again knows way more than I do, but I want to point something out in what he said that might escape notice:  It's hard to breed for aroma.  It's true that many breeds of roses have no smell, which to me is a shame, but breeding experiments have led to some amazing appearances. This seems to have something in common with why hybridizing grapes hasn't led to many desirable results.  Remember, taste and aroma are very closely linked, and aroma works with molecules in the parts per million and billion ranges, so it's exceedingly hard to control, even in labs. 

Amazing aphid stories.  We've got lots of little bugs of all kinds, and I just try to manage things with intercropping stuff that repels them, or other natural methods, but recently I had to deal with an amazing number of slugs on my strawberry plants.  (We're having a terrific strawberry year, btw.) I think they migrated when I "pruned" an enormous Calla lily that had been harboring anything that likes moisture.  For about a week, I picked off slugs manually every morning--something you can do in the microgarden, not feasible for the commercial outfit.  Finally, last week when I went out to pick our morning berries (between a handful and half a pint each day  for the last few weeks), I noticed they were gone. Shockingly, the plants were also mite and aphid free.  So now I am wondering what's happening that I am missing. 

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Reply by EMark, May 20, 2013.

The first few years we lived here we had some issues with slugs and snails.  We have some agapanthus and some aptenia, and they like both of those.  Then I started noticing a lot of shells from deceased snails.  It turns out that the local opossum and raccoon populations do a pretty good job of controlling them.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 20, 2013.

I'd rather have slugs and snails than possums.  But our local skunks keep the possums out anyway.  Too bad they haven't got more of a liking for snails themselves.

Frequent sight in our backyard: Squirrels and birds feasting on figs.  When we grew corn (my oldest insists she can grow corn) and sunflowers, the squirrels would climb up the plants to eat seeds.  This put them right at the level of and right outside our bathroom window.  No respect for privacy at all.

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Reply by EMark, May 21, 2013.

Interesting, it seems that the skunks and opossums of Diamond Bar have a mutual tolerance pact.

Black bearded iris. This is probably the last bloom of the season for us.

 

 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 21, 2013.

I don't know about peaceful relations, but we have raccoons and skunks (and squirrels and the neighbor's f***ing cat) coexisting in our yard at different times, but we haven't seen a possum for a while.  Last time I saw one, he had crawled under my tarp when I was composting on top of the beds one winter.  Either he was sick when he crawled there or suffocated by getting himself stuck in the compost, but when I lifted him out with a shovel, he wasn't just "playin' possum."  He was an ex-possum, to paraphrase John Cleese.

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Reply by gregt, May 23, 2013.

Cripes! Now animal stories.

We don't have much wildlife here in Brooklyn, but the squirrels and now raccoons simply dig things up or in some cases, just destroy them wantonly. I watched a squirrel stare at a tulip one morning, and finally in a fit of fury he scrambled down the fence, ran over to the tulip, sat back on his hind legs and knocked the bloom right off with his front feet. It was almost like watching a boxer work out on a speed bag.

"WTF!" I exclaimed to myself as I opened the door and threw a brick at him. 

That was his sole reason for stopping by that morning. He seems to hate red tulips the most - they don't last more than a day once they open and I find the petals scattered.

Roses are in bloom right now, as are the irises. If I can figure out how to post a pic, I will. 

 

 

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