Was it a result of playing golf on Sunday instead of vineyarding? Was it the revenge of the Three Priests for skipping Church? Did three weeks of unseasonably cool weather, thick fog and drizzle create ideal conditions for it?
There are simple rules in this life: eat your vegetables; check the dog's toes for foxtails; spray your vineyard. Two out of three ain't good enough.
At daybreak Monday Bluey & I went to the lower part of the vineyard where I hadn't been for a while and noticed a bunch of Petit Sirah with white frosting. I cut it off. Then noticed it on another bunch. Mission control, we have a problem: Powdery Mildew.
My experiment in not spraying the vineyard has been terminated with extreme prejudice.
The temperature stayed below 70 degrees today so the infestation did not spread, much. I should have been out in the vineyard holding hands this evening with my sweetheart watching the midsommar sunset and the full-moon rise but instead I was rushing to cut leaves to open up the canopy and scrambling to the top of the hill to fill a backpack sprayer with 4-gallons of water and X-amount of wettable sulphur. The directions said to apply 2 lbs. - 10 lbs. per acre of grapes and we have two acres planted but it doesn't say a thing about how many grams of sulphur to add per liter of water or how many ounces per gallon. So I took my best guess and stirred in the brown powder which disolved nicely in the water and put the sprayer on my back and pumped the handle to build pressure and nothing came out. What next? Momentarily deflated, but not defeated, I sent out an SOS to Coyote Karen to borrow her sprayer and I suggested to the Queen that we call Fidel to help us spray and she started singing her song:
That Fidel I am
That Fidel I am
I do not like that Fidel I am
And the Kabuki play continued about how it's her vineyard and if I think for a minute I have anything to do with it or if it's half-mine then she's leaving or "you should go to China" and she's carrying on about Fidel this (it's his fault the valves are leaking!) and Fidel that (he owes me $2,000 for the work he didn't do!) while the Man in the Moon is coming up and Bluey (bless his heart a dog without a tail) puts his stub between his legs and finds a corner to ride out the storm. This is why hurricanes have female names. Peace is restored when I lie that it's 100% her vineyard, pour her a glass of wine (instead of cutting her off) and promise not to call Fidel, that rascal.
The good news is that the mildew is located in the lower part of the vineyard and we can still save most of the Tempranillo, all of the Zinfandel and all of the Grenache. I have tasted award winning Tempranillo wine made from 3-year old San Diego vines and our vines are ready and willing to give us grape. Philosophically, my wanting to save the grapes is a good thing but if I loose them then I should just give them up because it's just a possession and possessions are temporary and in the end we're just ashes and the vines wither. I'm a mother with a baby inside and despite what the queen says it's my vineyard too and I'm fearful of a miscarriage and so I'm fighting.
Questions: If a bunch of grapes have a little bit of Powdery Mildew can they be saved? How much wettable sulphur powder should I add per gallon?