Wine |

Sexual confusion in the vineyard

The fight against grapevine pests and diseases has taken different forms throughout history. As winemaking became industrialized, production had to increase exponentially in order to stay competitive. This resulted in systems to control grapevine diseases that were mainly based on industrial insecticides and weed killers applied in bulk and without phytosanitary considerations.

 

Nowadays, chemical products and treatments have largely been cast aside in favor of sustainable viticulture and very strict regulations on organic farming. Thanks to ingenuity and science, this has led to pest control systems that are both harmless to the environment and extremely effective.

 

One of the most common vineyard threats is the European grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana). This “critter” attacks the vine in different ways and at different stages of the plant’s growth cycle.  

 

During the winter months, it lies dormant beneath the vine’s bark. Between April and May, first-generation adult moths lay eggs on the flower clusters. The resulting larvae will then destroy the flowers.   In summer when temperatures are warm, they directly attack the grapes, breaking the skin and hollowing out the berries. This allows other unwanted guests, such as the fearsome Botrytis Cinerea, to sneak inside.

 

So, what do we do at Jean Leon to fight this pest? Well, we attack the most vulnerable point of all living things (vertebrates or not): sex!

 

This goes as follows: We install a type of transmitter in the form of mating disruption dispensers throughout the vineyard. The dispensers are small capsules, about 4 cm in size, which release a combination of female pheromones, which confuse the male trying to locate the nonexistentfemale, thus preventing the moth from mating.

 

We use about 350 dispensers per hectare, which emit pheromones constantly, from the moment they are placed in the vineyard until their removal.

 

Better to “confuse” than exterminate, right?

 

The vineyard needs its ecosystem, and we have to respect it. Only by caring for the Earth and heeding its cycles can we make sure that the Earth will take care of us. The way it should always have been.