Aaron Pott Uses Aloe on Grapes

Aloe vera, yucca and algae—oh my!

If sunblock protects human skin against the sun, why not try it with grapes?

That's what Aaron Pott wondered. The winemaker at Quintessa, in Rutherford, has been as concerned as everyone else by the heat that hits wine country every summer, shriveling grapes and often giving raisiny flavors to wine.

Pott didn't go out and buy 50-gallon vats of Coppertone. Instead, he relied on a twist to the emerging science of biodynamics: a compost tea, sprayed on the grapes, composed of aloe vera, yucca and algae.

"The yucca alleviates stress in the vine due to heat," Pott explains. "The algae brings in moisture and acts as UV [ultraviolet] protection. The aloe is for post-treatment. Once we've gone through a heat spell, we put it on, to soothe and correct any damage."

Pott thinks the spray helped protect his plants during July's record heat, when the mercury spiked at 113ËšF in Napa Valley. "A lot of other guys really got nailed," Pott says, adding, "We came out just fine."

Steve Heimoff is Wine Enthusiast Magazine's West Coast Editor.

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