A personal perpsective of life in our Virginia vineyard... Christine Wells Vrooman



Know Thine Enemy!

I have immersed myself into the study of the sinister life of the despicable, Guignardia Bidwellii... the malcious, despot known as "Black Rot"!..... that loathesome, evil fungal disease that is intent on destroying future crops. (Can you tell it is therapeutic for me to use as many disgusting adjectives as possible)? This multi-faceted, repugnant beast might think it will get away with such plans, but I think not!! I have learned of terms like acospores, pycnidia, conidia, spermagonia. I read of words not studied since my days of Microbiology class decades ago... mycellium, parasitic, saprophytic. I know the times of incubation, infection, sporulation.. yada, yada... And we are having the perfect season (rainy and mild) for "BR" to have its way. But I will NOT let it have its way with me! No sir! As mentioned before, if we cannot eradicate it with environmentally gentle ways, then next year we will have no choice but to use chemicals. But... I have something up my vineyard shirt's sleeve...heh heh....

The Damnation of the Sporulation??
I am working with a fantastic individual ( a plant/food scientist) from CA whose company established a patent years ago that I discovered online. He is willing to work with me on some field trials in our vineyard on a product that we think holds great promise. Trials will begin in the next couple of weeks and run through the rest of the growing season. And it seems the weather will actually now be cooperating with us, as we will need some rainy weather to test the effects of the product. sooo... Stay tuned, my friends. Progress reports will follow!


From the palm of a vine, new growth rises

He Thinks He's a Bear

We found him four years ago on our cabin porch upon our arrival one weekend.. skin and bones, about 3 months old.. a crossbreed that I figured was a combination of the ten most popular breeds of that year. Weighing just about eight pounds at the time, he has since grown and become the most loyal, faithful, smelly breathed 110 lb. dog an owner could hope to find. When people meet Boomer (aka Boom-Boom), they are struck first by his size, then by all his other redeeming qualities. People often ask if he is a bear-cross, and until now I never thought he was ;), but after seeing his love for wild blackberries, I am having second thoughts.


A Perfect Storm

Days and days of rain, the rains coming just as we entered the time in a vineyard known as "bloom". The rains continued as the caps fell off the miniscule fruit, leaving them exposed to the splashing spores at their most vulnerable time. Warm temperatures. Damp, humid nights. No chemicals. And a daughter's wedding in the midst of it all.
Black Rot. Will it be the demise of our dreams for an organic vineyard in the East, as it has for others who have shared the same dream? Or is now finally the time for the discovery of an organic treatment for this nemesis?

It was good that we were not raising a "crop" this year, for alas what little we had allowed to grow on the vines is now gone. Nearly 99% of the fruit had to be cut away. The dried up grapes looked like large peppercorns, each little grape covered with the spores of Black Rot, just waiting for the next rain so they can spread yet even further! They, along with the spotted and drying up leaves, were all removed from the vineyard. But the damage was done.

I have been in contact with major universities and with research scientists around the world. I have researched patents and contacted their owners. I have written to vineyards in the East who say they are organic. From those who have responded, no one has offered much hope. But one scientist has written to me and thinks he might be onto something. At least I have his interest.
We shall see. We are thankful and others impressed that we have managed to keep Powdery Mildew and Downy Mildew at bay in this very wet season. So we must be doing something right!

Back to the vineyard now. The fruit might be gone, but the skies, the clouds, the vines, the birds, the mountains, the wind, the dripping, sweet honey... all still here.