Driving up the road to Naggiar you may have noticed quite a few of the signs pictured above. They are there for a good reason and that importance peaks at this time of year. Summer time is prime season for mite infestations. Mites are tiny little bugs that are hard to see without a magnifying glass. They live in the vegetation surrounding the vineyards but when it dries out and the heat kicks in, they start looking for greener pastures, i.e. the lush green leaves of the vines. Because the mites are so tiny, it would take a long time to reach the canopy by themselves so they hitch a ride- here’s where the signs come in- in the dust that is kicked up from vehicles traveling too fast.
So, what’s so bad about the mites? Mites feed by sucking the sap out of the leaves, leaving yellow and rust colored spots on them. With severe infestations, the leaves completely dry out and fall off the vine. With no leaves, the fruit doesn’t ripen properly leading to green flavor, high tannins and other undesirable notes in the resulting wine. The two species of mite we generally get up here are rust mites and spider mites. We can try to combat the mites with either miticide or by releasing beneficial predacious mites or wasps. The former is expensive and with the latter way, your timing of releasing the beneficial insects has to be spot on. Both ways are utilized at Naggiar but the best way to keep the mites out is to SLOW DOWN so they never get there in the first place. An ounce of prevention is literally worth a pound of cure.
So if you are driving up to Naggiar and you see the vineyard manager or winemaker give you the stink eye, ease off that accelerator and bring it down to 5- everyone but the mites appreciate it.