In wine regions around the world, roses are frequently planted at the perimeter of vineyards. Roses typically require the same type of soil and sun requirements as grapevines but did you know there’s a good reason for them to be here.
Rose bushes as alarm system
The vine is often prone to certain diseases, including powdery mildew (Erysiphe necator) and mildew (Plasmopara viticola). These formidable microscopic fungi appear as soon as temperature differences are felt between night and day. Their spread is boosted by a moist atmosphere and a mild weather.
The symptoms of powdery mildew on the vine are characterized by a white felting on the foliage, the contours of the blade are tensed, the flowers dry up quickly compromising the harvest. If powdery mildew appears later, it covers the grains with a whitish powder, the skin of the grape seeds cracks and bursts. The vine shoots are covered with brown spots that will take the shape of a star once the stem is august. In the autumn, cleïototheces, with large brown blisters, spread over the branches. This is a very unpleasant picture which can cause considerable damage in a vineyard.
Similarly for mildew which causes oily and discolored plaques on the upper side of the leaves. A white down is the next step in the progression of the disease. The flowers deform into sticks and then fall. A white felting develops on the clusters. Young twigs show whitish streaks.
That’s why the presence of roses is important! Indeed, some cultivars are very sensitive to powdery mildew and mildew, their planting at the top of the row makes it possible to know if the presence of these diseases exists on the plot long before it can develop on the vines.
Treatments will then be considered very quickly by the vine grower on the crop to prevent diseases.
Roses for ancestral cultural reasons
The presence of roses at the head of rows of vines was once justified by the technique of cultivation which employed plowing animals such as horses.
The pink rose was then bypassed by the animal avoiding to pull the last vine plant from the row. With the habit, the horse understood that the row was thus finished and then proceeded directly in the following row by starting a turn as soon as it crossed the rose bush.
That being said, many winegrowers would smile at this quaint romantic notion. Their job is more sophisticated than watching the roses bloom. In these days of modern technology roses are planted at the rows end for purely cosmetic reasons, but don’t let that spoil another great story…
Also published on Medium.