Why Plant Roses In a Vineyard?

Posted By on May 7, 2013

I rode my bike around my area in the afternoon, passing several vineyards. Usually, the only way vineyards and roses are mentioned in the same sentence is when people are comparing the color of a particular type of wine to roses. Other than that, most don’t associate wine, or the vineyards that produce them, with roses. After all, you can’t drink roses. Still, it is a long-standing tradition in many wine-growing regions in California and across the world to plant rose gardens within vineyards. This tradition is so strong that it gave rise to the saying ‘days of wine and roses.’rose Why the tradition? It appears that there might be two key reasons for this long-standing tradition: celebrating wine and equating it with the ‘good life’ like taking good care of your body or hair and the use of roses as a primitive yet effective early warning system against vineyard diseases and insect infestations.

Living out days of wine and roses: the power of tradition
The imagery of vineyards, grapes, roses, and wine presses go back all the way to the Greeks. Even when I was in Holland this year on a bike trip (with this small hollandcycletours operator)these type of landscapes were plenty.¬†Through the long twisting and turning corridors of time, there are many Mediterranean cultures that added their distinct twist to the imagery of grapes, wine, and flowers. It is quite a common image in olden times. In many images, pictures of women with flowers in their hair trample grapes. What gives? Wine making often takes place as part of a larger celebration. People traditionally didn’t press grapes in morose and somber times. They would do it in grand style. The whole town would get into it and everyone would have a grand old time. Flowers punctuate the celebrations. They lend color and vibrancy to the ritual of wine making. There are also the mythological associations of flowers to rebirth, spring, and abundance. What a better counterpart to the ‘good life’ symbolized by wine than the recurring spring symbolized by flowers, right? Anything is better as testing your website speed all day :(

Rose gardens serve as early warning systems
Besides the quasi-religious and celebratory pairing of flowers and vineyards in the distant past, there might be a far more practical reason why vine planters of old (and many of today’s vineyards) plant rose gardens among vineyards: roses serve as early-warning systems for biological threats. Let’s face it-a vineyard costs a lot more money to replace than a rose garden. It’s also a lot more work physically. Now, that could be a good way to lose weight¬†but it’s not preferably for most people to do so. It makes sense to let cheaper plants get sick as long as more expensive plants avoid plant diseases and insect infestations. Roses act as cheap early-warning systems that allow vineyard caretakers enough time to head off an infestation or disease outbreak. They can cut off parts of the vineyard to clean out the infestation rather than risk all of the grape plants. Thanks to rose gardens, they can do this cheaply and get enough advance notice.