A common sight in vineyards around the world, rose bushes are often found planted in front of rows of vines. But whenever you ask a wine maker for the answer, you’re likely to get a different response.
An obvious one is that many people find roses so beautiful. Vines themselves don’t have spectacular flowers of their own, so the rose bushes, when flowering, in front of the rows of vines adds an extra dimension of beauty. But that in itself probably wouldn’t explain the ubiquitousness of the custom.
At some vineyards, different flowering rose colours are used to designate the different varieties of grape grown. A range of red roses for the red varietals, obviously. And the white and yellow ones for the white.
Traditionally grape growers used the rose bush’s susceptibility to the Powdery Mildew fungus to aid in early detection of the fungus in the grape vines. The rose bush will be affected earlier than the vine and show symptoms before, so a vigilant vintner will be able to detect the presence of this fungus in time to successfully control it before too much damage is done. Interestingly enough, the rose bush and the vine are affected by a different species of Powdery Mildew. But the important thing is that the environmental conditions for both to infect the rose and the vine are very similar, making it helpful as an early detection tool.
Another reason for roses and vines being grown together is that the conditions for their flourishing are very similar. Both do very well in similar soils and climates. There is no extra work or cost needed to maintain the roses.
Lastly, an interesting possible explanation might be found in the fact that before the mechanization of tending to the vines, horses were used for these tasks. The prickly rose bushes at the ends of each row would ensure that the horse would do a wide turn before going down the next row, without damaging vines at the front of that row.
If you wander through most vineyards today, though, you won’t see rose bushes in front of all the rows of vines. They’re usually only in the most conspicuous locations, where the visitors can see them. So it looks like today’s custom of planting roses in front of the rows of vines is probably a remnant of traditional methods of vine protection, and because they look good…