The Piedmont areas of The Langhe, Roero and Monferrato are famous wine growing areas. Any wine producer will tell you the wine is not made in the cantina but in the vineyards, it is of course, the most valuable part of the process.
Something you will notice almost immediately when travelling through these regions is that many of the vineyards, whether they are Monferrato Dolcetto, BaroloNebbiolo or Moscato have the occasional rose bush at the end of a row of vines, usually close to the road. What are they for? In memory of a much missed owner or vinedresser? No, a nice thought, but their purpose is far more functional. Think of the canary in the coal mine. Before modern technology, the only way coal miners knew if deadly gases were building up was to have with them a canary in a cage - if the bird died they knew they had to move fast and get out. The rose has a similar function for the vines. Disease is not uncommon and roses are far more sensitive to disease than vines so the rose is watched carefully. The first sign of illness in the flower and the vineyard owner can move quick to try to remedy the situation before the vines suffer.
The vineyards represent a huge investment of work and care and it is the humble rose that keeps watch over their health!
These photos were taken in Mango, Piedmont, Italy. By Richard A. Edwards.