MICHAEL FRIDJHON: Grapes battle their own viruses
Containment works against infections in vineyards too
As we batten down and plan survival-in-isolation strategies with Covid-19 now a reality in SA, the recent history of wine industry pandemics is interesting. There are two useful comparisons: the great vineyard catastrophe of the 19th century that caused the arrival of phylloxera in Europe, and SA’s perennial problem of leafroll virus.
Phylloxera is an aphid endemic to the US. It dines on the roots of grape vines (mainly Vitis vinifera), the source of most of the world’s table wines.