Art of the Vineyard

Best Selling Stories

Image thumbnail

Phylloxera The Black Plague

Phylloxera The Black Plague

Who knows anymore about Phylloxera destroying almost every vineyard and every grape vine in the world, but, more than amazingly, not touching the Carmody McKnight vineyard?  That must be repeated — every grapevine known except for Carmody McKnight’s West Paso Robles Estate Vineyard!

Phylloxera, yes, Phylloxera – turned out to be the bleakest of maladies roaring into our civilization, beyond scary, out of the blue, and blindsiding.   Phylloxera, the “black plague,” relentlessly destroyed all vineyards worldwide.  In the 1990s, while fully planting our Carmody McKnight vineyard from fence line to fence line, Phylloxera laid claim as the most cataclysmic crisis to ever strike agriculture not only in California but everywhere else.  Each major region in the world ultimately replanted to Phylloxera resistant rootstock, including all of California, all of the Central Coast.  Phylloxera hit one and all like a thunderbolt from hell.

For us, though, to engage in a protective replanting we would distressingly destroy the greatest heritage one could have at that time — our original flourishing non-genetically modified or non-GMO vines – the “natural” grapevine! As soon as the threat attacked everywhere on earth, most all replanted to genetically engineered (GMO) rootstock. This mutant rootstock vine took over the vineyard world.

Although Carmody McKnight prospered with no Phylloxera appearing at any time in the middle of momentous scientific earth studies, we nonetheless would resign ourselves to a rootstock GMO grapevine replant.  We created a rootstock nursery and much later planned to replant slowly, allowing the studies of “natural” grape vines to continue and to be viticulturally significant.