Do not be afraid, Vinoland has not been overrun by marauding, undead creatures with names like Kharis, Imhotep and suchlike. Having said that, there are indeed mummies ominously lurking amongst the vines.
My New Year's Day walk through the vineyard was delayed due to rain. Today was sunny, an almost balmy 57 degrees, and was the perfect day to get out in my wellies with the Vinodogs and have a look-see in the vineyard in order to evaluate the pruning to be done. Everything looked good, but now that all the grape leaves are on the vineyard floor the mummies hanging about, in the tangle of last year's wood, could be clearly seen. Oh no...the curse of the bunch rot!
The primary pathogen causing bunch rot is the fungus Botrytis cinerea. Botrytis overwinters in the vineyard in a structure called a sclerotium which is associated with mummified clusters of grapes left over from the previous harvest, and thus can be an important source of inoculum in the spring. In a well-managed vineyard (mine), these mummies are completely removed from the vines at pruning time. The mummies fall to the vineyard floor where soil microorganisms attack the sclerotia and kill them. Yikes, that actually does sound a little scary!
I saw perhaps a dozen such clusters in the Cabernet sauvignon...no big deal. The best control of Botrytis is achieved through good vineyard sanitation and the disposal of grape mummy clusters in the winter dormant period...which is now.