Fungal disease is our main pest in the Finger Lakes. Several diseases are always present in the region and a comprehensive approach is needed.
Our first line of defense is to strengthen the vines to reduce their susceptibility to disease. This is achieved by fostering healthy soil and populating the vineyard canopy with beneficial native microbes.
Secondly, we use cultural practices such as leaf pulling and canopy management to improve air flow around the ripening grapes. This helps them stay dry and reduces fungal infection. Also, netting is used to protect varieties that are attractive to birds and mammals. By protecting the grape skins from being punctured, the nets reduce entry points for fungal disease.
If, despite our prevention efforts, fungal infection is detected, our first preference is a biological spray. This method inserts a “good microorganism” to consume or out-compete a “bad microorganism.” If a biological method is ineffective or unavailable, our next choice is an organic chemical spray such as sulfur or copper (used sparingly). Finally, if absolutely needed to preserve the crop, we use non-organic chemical sprays. We pledge to use highly-targeted sprays whenever possible, to reduce impact on the environment, the lake and our employees and visitors. Many next-generation fungicides are both highly-targeted and biodegradable.
Consider the human health analogy. People try to keep healthy by eating well, exercising and other habits. But occasionally, everyone gets sick. A mild illness might call for extra vitamin C and rest, while more serious conditions require prescription medication. We care for the vines in a similar way, only introducing chemicals (i.e. medication) as a last resort to save the crop.