Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Vineyard coda.

A little while back, I did a post on the goings on in the Opus One vineyard in Oakville. At the time, I thought they were perhaps simply replacing their wooden vineyard posts with metal stakes. But, the old posts remained in disarray for what seemed an awfully long time for such a relatively uncomplicated vineyard operation, if that is indeed what the folks at Opus One were up to.
Shortly after budbreak, I noticed that all the new shoot growth had been cut away from the cordons, except on a few vines, here and there, that still had foliage on them but were surrounded by stakes and caution tape. I still wasn't quite sure what was going on in this vineyard.
More recently, I observed personnel from Napa County Agricultural Commissioner's office digging large holes around the vineyard, obviously in the process of removing samples of something for testing in the lab. I could only conclude that this vineyard had such a severe infestation of whatever was ailing it that it was only a matter of time before this particular block of premium winegrapes was history.
This morning, a very wet January 1st, sorry, I mean June 1st, when I passed the Opus One vineyard on a work errand, the vines had been ripped out and were now heaped in two enormous piles, and the vineyard floor was being disked.
I have emailed the folk at Opus One and asked them what particular creepy-crawly (as it seems most likely that this would be a pest rather than a virus) their vineyard is suffering from, and what exactly their IPM programme entails. However, I don't expect to hear back from them.
At $205 a bottle, whilst Baron Rothschild and Robert Mondavi may not be turning in their graves I'm sure they are at least a little restive.


Thud said...

One of my fav tipples...they had better get it fixed.

About Last Weekend said...

Interesting, yes I have Opus I lot at my friends house. Hope all is well with them...

Vinogirl said...

Thud: Some of those vines in that pile might have produced that delightful '94 we drank a few years back.

ALW: You have nice friends. And I'm sure Opus One will be just fine.
When I was taking a Cover Crop class a few years back, on a field trip to Sawyer Cellars the teacher pointed out a nearby Opus One block that had been treated with methyl bromide and covered in black plastic. It surprised me as the use of this pesticide had been phased out, I thought, several years earlier. My teacher apparently had recommended a biological control to the folks at Opus One (such as wild radish), but apparently they chose to nuke the little devils instead.

Jamie Goode said...

hmm, very interesting - could it just be that they were virused to buggery? Or is it something in the soil?

Vinogirl said...

Jamie: Well, they were digging right next to some of the vine's trunks, nematodes perhaps? Or God forbid, phylloxera?
At first, when I saw that all the foliage had been cut back to the cordon, I was thinking that something that creeps and crawls amongst the canopy was the problem, but excavations surely meant the problem was subterranean.
What is curious is that the piles of vines were still there as of yesterday (they are usually burnt in place), so maybe it's not as serious of an infestation, of whatever, as it first seemed.

phlegmfatale said...

The sight of the ruined vines is shudder-inducing, indeed.