That’s a photo of a grape cutworm above, a caterpillar that winters quietly until the spring arrives and it surreptitiously begins gnawing away at the stalks and shoots after bud break. It literally cuts them down, hence the name.
One of the Scarpa vineyard team managed to catch a glimpse of one the other night in the vineyards.
Currently, the region of Piedmont, like every other Italian region, is on lockdown. That means that you can only leave your home to go food shopping or visit a pharmacy or medical facility. You’re not supposed to travel more than 200 meters from your house or apartment. That’s about the length of two (American) football fields to give you some perspective. Even parks are now closed across Italy as the country continues to grapple with the spread of Covid-19.
The Scarpa winery is still 100 percent operational. Right now its functioning with a skeleton crew of essential workers who see to day-to-day winemaking. The rest of the staff, like the marketing department or the tasting room team, are all currently working from home.
Piedmont is one of the regions least affected by the novel coronavirus but times are still challenging here as well: We are all trying to what we can to ensure that this crisis passes as quickly as possible.
And that’s what brings me to the hungry caterpillar.
Seeing the cutworm in the vineyard reminded us that the vegetative cycle — the cycle of life — continues even though the human world has come to a complete stop. No lockdown or quarantine can stop that hungry caterpillar once the buds have begun to appear on the vines as the weather gets warmer and winter melts into spring.
The cutworm helps us to remember that this crisis, like all the cycles of life, will someday be over. It may take weeks and even months before it passes. But it will be over — someday. And all the while that cutworm will just continue doing what it does best, as it nourishes itself on its path to become a moth — its cycle of life.
We’re still on lockdown here in Nizza Monferrato where the winery is located. But we haven’t given up. No way. Not there was ever any chance that we were planning to throw in the towel.
We’ve decided that this is the week we need to start interacting with our community again, albeit virtually and not physically.
Starting this week, we are going to be doing some virtual tasting with staff at the Scarpa winery online. And we are going to be asking some of our favorite wine educators and wine lovers to dig into their cellars and pull out a bottle of Scarpa to taste with other social media users online.
It was as if that little hungry caterpillar was waving a flag when we spied it in the middle of the night. And on that flag was written, dum vita est, spes est. Where there is life, there is hope.