"The rose and the thorn, and sorrow and gladness are linked together." ~ Saadi
The vineyards in Tuscany are breathtakingly beautiful. Rose bushes grace the end of each row, adding to the picturesque scenery of the vines that caress the fields. The roses serve as shepherds of the grapes, standing vigilant to warn of danger.
One of the key diseases that vintners face is the possibility of powdery mildew infecting the grapes. Roses are exquisitely sensitive to powdery mildew and will show active fungus before the fungus occurs in the grape vines. They serve as guardians of the future wine and alert vintners of a possible peril coming for the crops. Healthy roses are indicators of healthy grapes and that all is well for the future of the wine to come, at least in regard to diseased vines.
Now days, most large vineyards have more modern methods of monitoring their grapes. The use of roses as a warning system is considered outdated. However, many vintners consider that a thing of beauty protecting valuable crops cannot be overlooked, if for no other reason than the added loveliness that the roses bring to the fields.
There is also the desire of the Tuscan vintners to maintain the tradition of keeping roses in the vineyards. In the heart of Tuscany, you will see the roses, especially near Montalcino, which sits in the heart of the vineyards that produce Brunello wine, and also near Montepulciano, the home of Vino Nobile. This is so typical of the culture of Tuscany, to preserve traditions that are no less meaningful today than they were hundreds of years ago. It is one of the many reasons that we love Tuscany and the Tuscan people.
When passing by these vineyards, my thoughts often turn to the roses and how they are like many of the friends in our lives. A true friend might say, "This is where I am flawed. This is where I failed. Learn from my mistakes and don't let this happen to you." Who are your champions, those that are willing to show you their faults and share their failures, so that you can more clearly see and prevent your own? Who are the roses in your vineyard?