Californian winemaker uses sunscreen to protect grapes

  • Monday 11 September 2006

A biodynamic Californian winemaker is spraying his crop with a sunblock concoction to relieve his over-tanned grapes.

Aaron Pott, who makes wine for Quintessa in the Napa Valley, is spraying his Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot with a dilute organic ‘tea’ which includes aloe vera, known for its skin-soothing properties, and yucca, a perennial shrub used in alternative medicines.

Pott also adds marine algae to the mix because of its apparent UV-absorbing qualities, effectively making the spray part-sunscreen, part-after-sun lotion.

‘The grapes face the same summer sun exposure dangers that concern bikini-clad sun bathers,’ Pott told Business Wire. ‘We're all aware of the benefits of algae and aloe vera in protecting ourselves from sun damage. We simply took that evidence into the vineyard.’

The ‘compost tea’, as it is known, is supposed to work in a similar manner to that of homeopathy by transferring the drought-resistant properties of aloe vera onto the vines and grapes.

Aloe Vera is a common component of sunscreens, after-sun skin lotions and soaps but it has not been used on grapes before.

‘Farming experts said it sounded like a first to them,’ said the Associated Press news agency.

The mixture contains around 5 ounces (141 grams) of aloe vera and 3 ounces (85g) of Yucca per acre – a very dilute mixture which is not supposed to affect the taste of the wine.

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