As mentioned under the post on organic farming, we do everything we can to prevent bad things from attacking our vines. Ensuring that the immune system of our plants is at 100% is key to avoiding pests and diseases. We do this by working with nature rather than against it. This includes careful soil preparation and maintenance to protect natural life in the soil and thus the biodiversity and natural balance in our vineyards.
However, sometimes we are forced to help Mother Nature a bit to protect our vines. As we are certified organic we have much less "ammunition" at our disposal, but with a lot of careful attention and MANY hours of work in the vineyards we manage in keeping our plants clean and healthy.
The two things we do use is ozone and sulphur.
Ozone (O3) is used as a "sanitizing" agent and is used to control microbial growth and infection. This molecule decomposes spontaneously to oxygen upon application and the use of ozonated water is for us the perfect alternative to chemicals for the control of pathogens in the vineyard. The ozonated water is applied in the early morning hours before the temperature rises and really helps us protect the plants, especially against fungi. It however rains off easily so in a summer like 2023 where we had frequent rainshowers early in the season we had to spray certain sectors of the vineyards almost each morning.
Sulphur is another natural agent we use in the vineyards. It helps us protect against and cure powdery mildew which is one of the most frequent illnesses in our vineyards. It is produced by the fungus Uncinula necator and affects the green parts of the plant: leaves, shoots and tendrils. It is also known as rust, whiteness, powder, blight... These are names which refer to the main symptom of this illness: a very thin white powder which covers the grapevines.
For organic growers like us, who cannot use modern fungicide sprays, sulphur remains the most effective weapon against powdery mildew.