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Pressure in the Home Vineyard: How to measure and mitigate fungal disease

It is not lost on the well-informed winegrower/winemaker that fungi — ancient, single-cell organisms that have been on this planet hundreds of millions of years longer than humans — are our best friend in the winery and our worst enemy in the vineyard. How is that possible? Yeast are fungi, and the strains that ferment beer, wine, and even the base material for spirits are the most important industrial microbe the world has ever seen. Fermentation can be seen as “controlled spoilage,” whether making pickles or booze — it’s a way that humans have preserved agricultural harvests that are too bountiful to consume in a fresh form. But then there’s fungi like powdery and downy mildew, black rot and Botrytis — the scourge of both pro and amateur vineyardists the world over. Let me suggest that a conversation about yeast strains and winemaking might be a shinier and happier subject for an article, but helping you ferment is not my job here at WineMaker magazine. The last twenty years of this column has been dedicated to helping you grow clean