WARNING: If you’re in the wine business, this is only viticulture 101.  This blog story has been created for people just learning about vineyards. Please judge accordingly.

VIT 101: Bunny Boxes… When new vineyards are planted, or when just one plant needs to be replanted (as in this picture), those vines need protection from critters. This includes bunnies in the vineyards that love baby grape leaves, hence the name. The boxes that are used are like milk cartons… tall and protective from small critters, who roam the vineyards looking for succulent leaves. (Remember, these leaves receive irrigation, so they’re juicier than dry farmed greenery.) I don’t have a brand new vineyard image with lots of boxes to show you (but I’ll find one, when I’m out driving). Meanwhile, this one bunny box of a replanted vine will do for now.

From Jayme Silva: The inventor of the bunny box milk carton was Brother Timothy Diener, renowned cellar master at Christian Brothers.

VIT 101: When you’re out and about looking at grape vines, or if you see pictures of grape vines that look like this one with brown edges, it means that the grape vine has Pierces disease. It doesn’t affect the flavors of the wine. I just means that a tiny louse (literally and figuratively) is sucking the life out of the vine, and the grape production is on the wane. This can go on for many, many years.

Meanwhile, if it looks like this one with gorgeous red and orange colors, it has leaf roll. It isn’t affected the first year. But, as time goes on flavors and yield are affected.

Normal vines, not yet affected by disease have pale yellow leaves,which drop to the ground each fall. It’s these vibrant ones that having us loving autumn in the vineyards. It’s a ‪Love/Hate‬ relationship.

Dan Kleck: Vine vira such as stem pitting or fanleaf can also result in this foliar response.

[Dan also helped with this blog post about which disease is which.]

VIT 101: Every single grape variety has it’s own very distinct leaf. Many of the white grape varietal leaves are less notched, like this first one. Notice how it seems more rounded. It’s a Chardonnay leaf.

The next one is what a lot of the red grape varietal leaves look like, with notched edges. They look more like Maple leaves. This one is a Syrah leaf.

If you’re ever in Sonoma County, Kendall-Jackson Winery has a demonstration vineyard at the front of their tasting room, with 30 different grape vine rows. You not only get to see the leaves, but you also can see the difference between all of the grape clusters. It’s similar to citrus fruit. Each one is unique and recognizable by its distinguishing features. Winemakers and viticulturists know the unique differences of the vines they – most especially – are growing and tending.