Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

My eyes spun like T-Shirts in a washing machine.

The words invaded my brain like Russian soldiers ordered to inflict the maximum of damage with the minimum of basic equipment.

The Financial Times headline screamed like a prey-less eagle: The new, deadly disease threatening the wine world.

GTD.

Gotterdammerung? 

Get Thee To Damnation? 

Sadly, it's Grapevine Trunk Disease.

As wine writer Andrew Jefford explained, this is a cabal of fungal pathogens hell bent on disturbing the viticultural ecosystem and wiping out something precious.

The International Organization of Vine and Wine (I Owe VW) declares that 20 percent of vineyards are now affected. 

Which means many vines are breathing their last -- suffering from what the some describe as a heart attack -- leading to the potential of fewer wines being produced and, even more painful, fewer good wines being produced.

Whom can we blame? There must be someone.

Experts suggest lazy -- or even incompetent -- viticulturalists are partly culpable. As are money-grabbers in the nursery business.

Some nursery types apparently don't care whether they're selling diseased plants. Because, well, money.

And once you've discovered your vines are diseased, the best option is to plant healthy ones. Which could mean five years of lost production. And, of course, the potential death of your label.

You can regraft, too, in order to salvage older vines that can produce truly wonderful wine. But it's expensive and laborious.

I was adjusting my mind to cope with this when I read these words from John Dyson, owner of Russian River winery Williams Selyem, whose specialty is Pinot Noir: 

There will be an existential crisis in California.

There already is, but it has nothing to do with wine.

He explained, though, that especially in the more exalted wine world, it isn't just the vines that can get infected. It's the precious land.

And this on top of a new study suggesting not even a single glass of wine is good for you. 

I was already prostrate, the tears slipping into my nostrils, when I learned that Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon are among the worst affected by GTD.

So I did what I always do in such circumstances and turned to Michael Honig, CEO of Honig Winery and last year's Chair of the Napa Valley Vintners Association. 

I'm a Wine Ambassador for his winery, and I wanted to know whether there will still be some wine for the embassy. He told me:

With testing and good nursery practices, we are not seeing the same problems other folks have experienced. I'm not saying the world of vines is perfect, but I do not plan on selling out and moving to Marin because of some pest. 

Marin is a California county with, well, a questionable reputation for many things. (It's also the embassy's location.)

Please, I can't guarantee there won't be some sort of disaster. In just about every area of life, never mind in wine.

I certainly don't take lightly the notion that GTD is serious and growing, nor that one of the best ways to combat it is to breed new varieties resistant to this vile interpolator. (Cue the aghast screams from traditionalists.)

But every industry must fight the incompetent, the unscrupulous and the bringers of bad fortune.

The wine industry is certainly used to it.

Published on: Aug 26, 2018