Utility and fascination are the cornerstones of Italian landscape tradition and it is from this union that one of the most original views of this territory was born.
It is not uncommon to bump into it, you simply need to reach the rural areas of which Tuscany, in particular, is well-provided. These zones are mainly dedicated to crops of grapes and it is precisely the right place to contemplate the heads of the vineyard rows more closely, where wonderful bushes of roses have been planted for centuries.
What has now become an enjoyable habit was once used by farmers to monitor the maturation of vines. Roses are, in fact, biological indicators of any potential disease caused by pests and fungi (among the most common we can find Oidium, also called “powdery mildew” and Downy mildew). They are called “spy plants” because they reveal the symptoms of these diseases before, they are a sort of sentinel.
When vines are attacked, the damage may consist of a slowdown in the development of clusters (if the grapes have already formed) or, in the worst-case scenario (if the attack is premature), the loss of the entire crop.
In the past, thanks to the presence of roses, wine growers were able to intervene in time with specific treatments to save their vineyards, one of which includes, even nowadays, the use of sulphur from the mines.
At the present time scientific methods of analysis and prediction are obviously used to prevent aggressions. However, the custom of planting roses is still deeply established amongst the most “nostalgic” farmers who set up their vineyards year on year with these attractive flowers that also give the grapes a natural perfume recognisable in the wine itself.
Their presence does not come from a purely aesthetic choice but acquires a ritual value, so to speak, outlining the deep relationship between man and nature. Traditions like this persist over time, they are a historic heritage which has been handed down from generation to generation with passion.
What makes this custom evocative is also the scrupulousness that some winemakers have about diversifying vineyards of red wine and white wine by placing red and yellow roses or giving roses the same name as vineyards to underline the bond of belonging to the same territory.